Most sports strain the shoulders. Throwing and hitting balls involve powerful arm movements that put a great deal of strain on the rotator cuff muscles.
It is important to keep these muscles fit, to be able to withstand the stress. Exercise your shoulders with gentle range of motion, stopping the arc before feeling pain.
Bending over the edge of your bed, gently swing the arm side to side, back and forth using a 1-pound weight. Resistance bands may be used for swinging the arms out into abduction and in a backwards butterfly motion for scapular stability.
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Begin with green bands if you are an average weekend type of athlete. Use blue if you have been playing three to six days per week, and progress through the series of increased resistance – green is moderate, blue is strong and black is heavy-duty resistance for therapy bands.
Many athletes are out in “full swing.” Proper biomechanics are needed to fully maximize your swing. Improve both form and function with this exercise to correct your posture: Beginning by standing three inches from a wall, with your buttocks and back and the back of your head touching the wall. Next, flatten your shoulder blades back so that they lay flat against the wall and then try to bring your heel a little closer to it, while keeping your body against the wall.
Notice what good alignment feels like; it may be difficult to maintain this, meaning that you may have excessive rounding of the middle back and shoulders. Chiropractic can gently improve posture using adjustments instruments and devices versus the “manual” method.
Twisting to hit and throw balls requires lumbar flexibility. Spinal misalignments cause the back to lose ability to twist to the maximum and then other body parts compensate for this and suffer over-use. For instance, the shoulder may begin to hurt and wear out faster.
Sports that involve twisting put a lot of stress on knees. The knees suffer strain from quick changes of direction, especially turning the foot and leg inward (medial rotation), which creates stress that strains the medial knee compartment of ligaments and meniscus.
This motion occurs during swings of the club, bat and racquet. Practice squats and lunges to strengthen the knees. If your knees are unaccustomed to this workout, you will find it helpful to use a handrail or a countertop for balance. Work up to three sets of 10 reps, gradually increasing the depth of the knee bends.
You can put a stability ball behind your waist and lean against a wall, then roll up and down against it while doing squats. Chiropractic can increase hip flexibility as well; I often see hip extension ROM triple after an adjustment. Many athletes come in for a “tune up” prior to competition.
Dr. Cheryl McFarland-Bryant has been practicing in Citrus County for 26 years. She is licensed as a doctor of chiropractic and medical laboratory scientist and has more than 10 years of experience in functional holistic integrative medicine. Contact her at 352-795-8911 or visit 6166 W. Gulf-to-Lake Highway, Crystal River, or betterhealthchiropractic.us.