In episode 7 of the @Topvelocity #pitchingtips show we discuss how overhead lifts are crucial for shoulder strength and stability. Not only does strengthening and stabilizing the shoulders help you throw harder, but it is critical to keeping the arm healthy as well. High velocity pitchers put a lot more load on the arm then low velocity pitchers. That is why at Topvelocity we stress that you must build a powerful upper half as well as a powerful lower half. If you have a powerful lower half, but are extremely weak in the upper half, especially the shoulders, you are putting yourself in a bad situation that could potentially lead to injury. Strengthening and stabilizing the shoulders through overhead lifts is extremely important to pitching velocity and maintaining health in your pitching arm.
Building Strength with Overhead Lifts for Pitchers
There is a lot of discussion around baseball that lifting overhead for pitchers is bad for them. That is probably why pitchers have some of the weakest shoulders in sports. Combine that with pitchers trying to throw harder than they ever have before and it’s fairly obvious why we are seeing such a dramatic increase in pitching arm injuries. Pitchers need to start building strength in their shoulders and there is no better way to do that than by utilizing overhead lifts. However, as always, just strengthening the shoulders is just one part of the equation. You need a full body developmental approach as well as learning how to use your body efficiently with the kinetic chain to minimize the risk of injury and increase performance.
At Topvelocity we use a few different strategies to build stability and strength in the shoulders. The power jerk is phenomenal exercise to help develop strength and stability in the shoulder and we have all of our athletes perform this exercise. Clock push ups are another one we like to use to develop some stability in the shoulder. We also use another controversial exercise in baseball that helps to develop strength and stability in the shoulder. You may have heard of it, it is called the bench press. There are a lot of ways to attack the shoulders and build some strength and stability. The main thing is that you don’t completely ignore it and find some exercises that you can do for your shoulder to keep you healthy.
In conclusion, baseball pitchers are throwing harder and getting injured more often than any other time in history. Pitchers have some of the weakest shoulders in sports because they are constantly told to avoid lifting overhead and lifting in general. However, stabilizing and strengthening the shoulder is a huge piece of the puzzle to keeping your arm healthy and developing velocity. We recommend doing power jerks, clock pushups and even bench press to develop strength and stability. That is not all the exercises we do for shoulder strength and stability, but it will get you going in the right direction. Obviously, pitchers need to be doing a fully body strength and conditioning program to minimize the chance of injury and maximize performance.