Fastpitch Friday Ep. 17 Should Softball Players Stretch Their Shoulders?

On this week's episode of Fastpitch Friday I discuss a common question I receive from youth softball players regarding stretching. Here's a quick explanation why I prefer not to use the cross body stretch with young softball players. 

 
 

On top of strengthing your posterior cuff here are 3 tactics to aid in getting rid of those nasty trigger points behind your shoulder. 


1) Incorporate warm-ups drills to gradually build up your range-of-motion

One of the two biggest culprits that limit shoulder flexion is poor tissue quality. By spending extra time performing self-massage on your lats, pecs, and triceps you can reduce stiffness and gain back lost shoulder flexion. The second culprit tends to be poor movement quality.
 
-Locking your shoulder blades down and back while rowing
- Moving through your lower back to get up overhead
- Forward head posture
Try throwing various drills in your warm-up that challenge you to move through your core first and move your limbs around a solid core position. 

 
 

 

2) "Owning" your center of gravity

A good amount of softball players will  live in a state of gross extension. Meaning their chest/rib cage are pointing up at the horizon and the front of their hips are pointing down to the ground. By using various bridge and deadbug variations with an emphasis on creating high tension and full exhales you can; 
- gain body awareness
- get out of a state of gross extension
- gain back lost range of motion in your hips and your shoulders
- improves lumbo-pelvic stability
- teaches good posture 

Gross Extension Pattern 

Gross Extension Pattern 

Here, Tony Gentilcore demonstrates a pretty perfect example of how to create high tension along with using  full inhales (nose) and exhales (mouth).

 

3) Cement good movement patterns with strength

It's not uncommon for a softball athlete to present with a flat thoracic spine, shoulder blades tipped forward (anterior tilt), thus resulting in forward translation of the humeral head. Taking steps to implement drills that target the lower and upper traps to help stabilize  the shoulder blade on the rib cage can help gain back some good relative stiffness.