Grip Strength and Shoulder Stability
In many overhead sports such as softball, training grip strength is commonly overlooked as an area of development. Recent research has found that forces on the shoulder and elbow during pitching in fast-pitch softball were around 70-95 % of the forces found in baseball overhand pitching (Hill, 2014). Training grip strength not only has a great impact on shoulder stabilizers (upper, middle, lower trapezius, rhomboids, levator scapula, serratus anterior, pec minor and the rotator cuff muscles) for handling these forces but is also a great way to build camaraderie between players.
The positive relationship between grip strength and shoulder stabilizers can be explained by a cool mechanism called Irradiation. Irradiation is the ability of one muscle when it tenses strongly to recruit the tension of nearby muscles. Here are three different ways you can add grip training to your current training program.
Rope Pull Ups
Pull-ups are classic exercises to build stronger lats, shoulders and arms. Many female athletes can correctly perform multiple pull-ups in a set; however, when they progress to weighted pull-ups their elbows can flare up. Performing pull-up variations with odd objects, such as ropes and handles will increase grip strength while making the bodyweight pull-up a lot harder.
Farmer carries are simple. You just pick up heavy dumbbells, kettle-bells, or other heavy objects and go for a walk while applying your strongest death grip on the object. This exercise has a cluster of benefits including activation of the rotator cuff muscles ( teres minor, infraspinatus, supraspinatus and subscapularis) through irradiation, increased core strength and hip stability, and beastly triceps.
Fatz Gripz can be utilized with many rowing, pressing and carrying variations and is a useful tool if you have access to them. If you do not have access to Fatz Gripz, you can always wrap a towel around the handles of dumbbells or kettlebells making this movement more difficult.
Start Mixing It Up
Using these grip strength variations, you can make a lasting positive impact on not only your body but on your mental toughness as well. Give these challenging variations a try and I am positive you will not be disappointed.
Hill, J., Humphries, B., Weidner, T., & Newton, R. (n.d.). (2014). Female Collegiate Windmill Pitchers: Influences to Injury Incidence. J Strength Cond Res The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 18(3), 426-426