Throwing is a complex motion that involves the coordinated movement of multiple joints and muscle groups throughout the upper body. The throwing motion starts with the feet and legs, which provide the initial force and power to the throw. The force then travels up through the hips, trunk, and shoulders, and finally to the arm and hand, which release the ball.
During the throwing motion, multiple joints and muscle groups are involved, including the hips, trunk, shoulders, elbow, wrist, and fingers. The movement also involves a combination of both concentric and eccentric muscle contractions, which means the muscles are contracting and relaxing at different stages of the motion. The article will specifically address the importance of forearm and rotator cuff strength in the throwing/overhead athlete.
The muscles in the forearm that are important for throwing include the wrist flexors and extensors, as well as the pronators and supinators. The wrist flexors, such as the flexor carpi radialis and flexor carpi ulnaris, are responsible for wrist flexion, which is the upward movement of the hand. The wrist extensors, such as the extensor carpi radialis and extensor carpi ulnaris, are responsible for wrist extension, which is the downward movement of the hand. The pronators, such as the pronator teres and pronator quadratus, are responsible for turning the hand downward, while the supinators, such as the supinator and brachioradialis, are responsible for turning the hand upward. These muscles work together to control the movement of the hand and wrist during a throw.
Forearm strengthening can improve the power and accuracy of throws in athletes by increasing the strength and endurance of the muscles used in the throwing motion. This can also help to reduce the risk of injury to the forearm and elbow. Additionally, stronger forearms can also improve grip strength, which can be beneficial for athletes in sports that involve throwing or gripping (such as baseball, football, and tennis). Overall, forearm strengthening can lead to improved performance and reduce the risk of injury in throwing athletes.
Along with the shoulder, the elbow is commonly injured in throwers, and particularly in baseball pitchers. Strengthening the forearm muscles can help to protect the elbow in throwers by improving the stability and function of the elbow joint. The muscles of the forearm, such as the wrist flexors and extensors, brachioradialis, pronators and supinators, work together with the muscles of the upper arm, such as the biceps and triceps, to control the movement of the elbow joint during a throw. A strong forearm can help to improve the mechanics of the throwing motion and reduce the stress on the elbow joint and the ulnar collateral ligament, which can help to reduce the risk of injury. Additionally, strengthening the forearm muscles can also help to improve the stability and function of the elbow joint, which can help to reduce the risk of overuse injuries such as tennis elbow, pitcher’s elbow/little leaguer’s elbow and ulnar collateral ligament (Tommy John) injuries.
Rotator Cuff Strengthening:
The rotator cuff muscles play a crucial role in throwing because they are responsible for stabilizing the shoulder joint during the throwing motion. The rotator cuff is made up of four muscles: the supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, and subscapularis. These muscles help to keep the head of the humerus (upper arm bone) in the socket of the shoulder blade (scapula) and provide stability to the shoulder joint.
A strong rotator cuff can help to improve the power and accuracy of throws by providing a stable base for the arm to generate force. A strong rotator cuff allows for better control of the humerus, which can help to improve the mechanics of the throwing motion and prevent injuries by providing better stability of the shoulder joint. A weak rotator cuff can lead to poor throwing mechanics and can increase the risk of injury to the shoulder.
Additionally, a strong rotator cuff can also help to improve the endurance of the shoulder muscles, which can be important for throwers who need to perform repetitive throwing motions over an extended period of time.
It’s important to note that a comprehensive strength training program for throwers should include exercises for both the forearm and rotator cuff muscles, as well as exercises for other muscles involved in the throwing motion such as the shoulders, scapula, upper back. It’s recommended to consult an orthopedic surgeon and their therapy staff to design a proper strength training program. Dr. Lawrence Li, and his therapy staff have helped hundreds of injured throwers/overhead athletes recover from their injuries and improve their performance, as well as prevent further injury.