Mobility & stability


#1

I know I am probably being a pest about this - but it seems all our discussions around here are about

  1. Strength training
  2. Long tossing

Seldom is there a discussion of stability or mobility and the implications of these two on pitching performance (read velocity). I read somewhere - that the transition point for the transfer of energy from the lower half - to the shoulder occurs in the thoracic region (consisting of the scaps & shoulder) and that many physical problems associated with wear & tear on the both the shoulder (rotator cuffs) and lower back can be traced to lack of mobility in the thoracic region.

I wonder why no one talks as much about exercises to increase mobility or stability. How does long-tossing assist in this; how does pitching from a mound assist in this. Considering that one of a nautilus machines biggest benefit is how it isolates a muscle & also stabilizes it (so you can train to failure with minimal risk of injury) how does such a machine help to build strength & stability in the scaps - so you don’t get injured when you are pitching and through fatigue having your mechanics fall apart? How does using free-weights and compound lifts help address this same question?

What I am saying we are overly focused on strength - whether it be strength-speed (heavy weights/relative long loading-time) or speed-strength (light weight (think throwing a baseball)/relative short loading time). While they are both important they are just one part of the equation. There are other aspects of training the should receive equal if not greater focus.


#2

Strength training isn’t my forte but I will say that it is important to recognize the stability/mobility chain and train parts of the body specific to their purpose. Randy Johnson’s back problems when he was with the Yankees were reportedly due to the Yanks having him train the low back - a stable “joint” - as a mobile joint.

It’s also important to understand that when one joint (e.g. a shoulder) is injured, adjacent joints are recruited to perform what the injured joint can’t. In this example, an injured shoulder (a mobile joint) will cause the elbow (a stable joint) to be asked to be a mobile joint. This is the nature of cascade injuries.


#3

[quote=“kidmullen”]I know I am probably being a pest about this - but it seems all our discussions around here are about

  1. Strength training
  2. Long tossing

Seldom is there a discussion of stability or mobility and the implications of these two on pitching performance (read velocity). I read somewhere - that the transition point for the transfer of energy from the lower half - to the shoulder occurs in the thoracic region (consisting of the scaps & shoulder) and that many physical problems associated with wear & tear on the both the shoulder (rotator cuffs) and lower back can be traced to lack of mobility in the thoracic region.

I wonder why no one talks as much about exercises to increase mobility or stability. How does long-tossing assist in this; how does pitching from a mound assist in this. Considering that one of a nautilus machines biggest benefit is how it isolates a muscle & also stabilizes it (so you can train to failure with minimal risk of injury) how does such a machine help to build strength & stability in the scaps - so you don’t get injured when you are pitching and through fatigue having your mechanics fall apart? How does using free-weights and compound lifts help address this same question?

What I am saying we are overly focused on strength - whether it be strength-speed (heavy weights/relative long loading-time) or speed-strength (light weight (think throwing a baseball)/relative short loading time). While they are both important they are just one part of the equation. There are other aspects of training the should receive equal if not greater focus.[/quote]
The issue with people focusing too much on one side or the other, is they are uneducated. It is very hard for you to know what your deficiencies physically are, you need to have someone else to find them, no mattered how qualified. Otherwise if you go through and give someone ways to work on mobility or stabilization without knowing what you are doing, then you risk injuring yourself.

I personally can attest to this. I hurt my arm my HS senior year (it hurt all the way through fall ball, which was last october). I was hypermobile, and it was in multiple places, because genetically, I am very different from most people. My shoulders are disproportionate to the rest of my body, and there is a great amount of laxity throughout my upper back and shoulders. So much, my scapula could come completely out of place. This isn’t the only place I have been hypermobile, but it was the only place hurting me. I had to have an athletic trainer take a look at it, and work on therapy with me. It is an ongoing process that you yourself cannot fully do on your own. You need someone who can see your bodies complexity from a different set of eyes.

With that said, weight training, myofascial foam rollers, stretching, and everything else, when done properly, keeps most people healthy. If you feel pain, don’t be like the majority and push through it. Have someone look at your arm, take care of your body, listen to what it says and you should stay healthy.


#4

We do tons of self-myofascial release (SMR), mobility work, and stability work. Hopefully I can put up some videos soon of that.


#5

I also believe that mobilty and stability should be important to a pitcher.
Pitching requires not only strength, but also balance- right?
Pitchers need to be flexible, they need to have good body flexibility.
Strength is important, but so is mobility and stability.


#6

And then—there’s THE SECRET.
I learned it many moons ago. As a kid I would go to the original Yankee Stadium every chance I got, and I would watch the pitchers in particular because I was getting into that. And I noticed that the team’s legendary Big Three—Vic Raschi, Allie Reynolds and Ed Lopat—were all doing the same thing, in practice and in games. They were all driving off the lower half of the body, using the legs, the hips and the torso in one continuous (and, it seemed to me, seamless) motion, and that was how they were getting the power behind their pitches—even Lopat, who was not a fireballer by any means. Not only were they getting that power, they were also taking a load off the arm and the shoulder, throwing harder and faster with less effort because the arm and the shoulder were just going along for the ride. And not a sore arm or a sore shoulder or a sore elbow or a sore anything else in the bunch!
I saw just how they were doing this, and I made a note of it and began working on it on my own. As I practiced this essential—and believe me, it is essential—element of good mechanics, I found that I was doing the same thing they were. I was, indeed, throwing harder and faster (not that I was particularly fast) with less effort, and my natural sidearm delivery had a lot more snap and sizzle to it. And later on my pitching coach (one of those three guys) helped me refine it.
Yes indeed, balance—mobility and stability both—must factor into the equation. And learning, and making use of, THE SECRET helped me attain this balance. :slight_smile: 8)


#7

Some things to consider:

Mobility without stability results in vulnerability.
Stability without mobility results in inefficiency.

CSOleson: With your hypermobility, strength/stability training in the right places is definitely called for to reduce vulnerability.


#8

[quote=“Roger”]Some things to consider:

Mobility without stability results in vulnerability.
Stability without mobility results in inefficiency.

CSOleson: With your hypermobility, strength/stability training in the right places is definitely called for to reduce vulnerability.[/quote]
Exactly, and it is something I have to continuously work on. That being said, people need to be especially wary of trying to move towards one part of the spectrum or another, because either way can have consequences.

Kid, my question for you is why are you looking for ways of specifically training a side of the spectrum?


#9

[quote=“CSOleson”]

Kid, my question for you is why are you looking for ways of specifically training a side of the spectrum?[/quote]

More of a response to all the chatter about which weightlifting program is better or worse, don’t long toss, don’t long-toss over 120 feet, etc, etc… The mobility/stability side of the spectrum often is just ignored, not just overlooked. Laxity-strength is a continuum - you gain one at the expense of the other - so shouldn’t you manage it? Often in this forum - the focus is on getting stronger and the most efficient way to get stronger. I believe we have this focus to gain velocity and avoid injury. Well strength can mask inefficiencies in mobility/stability - which can lead to injury. So by gaining strength are you also risking injury if you don’t work on at least maintaining or improving the other end of the spectrum? Why get strong if you are inefficient with transferring that power through the kinetic chain?

When a guy asks how his workout looks - we all say I like this I don’t like that - use nautilus no use barbells - but no one asks how he is trying to maintain or improve those other qualities of athleticism - mobility & flexibility. Sometimes we find out he stretches - before he works out - but how - I think we could provide some better guidance here and help to educate younger players about the importance of training - beyond squatting, benching, and deadlifting (don’t get me wrong strength training is a good thing - but it isn’t the only thing)

I could go on & on - but this is just a response to all the arguing about my weight program is better than yours; long-tossing isn’t important, etc., etc… I’d like this thread to show some mobility exercises, number of repetitions done, frequency of doing them, why we do them, etc. - I suspect there isn’t much being done out there outside of folks like Kyleb and maybe some college players.


#10

Great posts in this thread.

I want to contribute a lot more, but I suspect that videos will be a lot more effective than words in this regard. I definitely plan on filming a bunch of mobility/stability work - we have some on our YouTube channel, but not enough.

I don’t agree that strength - laxity is a continuum where you move across it. You can develop joint laxity and still be quite strong. Stability - Laxity is the continuum, IMO - but depending on the joint, one side could be better and the other could be worse!

Wolforth’s guys do a lot of mobility/stability work; you can see for yourself with a YouTube/Google search. But I suspect in general that you are right - not many people are doing SMR and other techniques outside of a few organizations (Boston comes to mind as Mike Reinold is the head trainer).


#11

Stability, mobility and flexibility is always a topic at the NPA certifications. I’m not a PT or trainer, just a coach trying to keep my kids safe and educate then along the way. As I understand it when the accelerator muscles (essentially frontside) are stronger than the decelerator muscles (backside) the decelerators will “bind up” to protect and stabilize the joint. In the case of shoulders this eventually results in tightness in the shoulder/scap area and limited ROM.

Typical therapy for the “bound up” muscles, such as posterior capsule release, focuses on stretching the tissue rather than strengthening it. While the pitcher may feel better the underlying strength imbalance that caused the problem has not been addressed. Often the pitcher goes back to the mound and the same issues recur, sometimes in just a few pitches, and the whole process starts over again.

[quote=“Roger”]
It’s also important to understand that when one joint (e.g. a shoulder) is injured, adjacent joints are recruited to perform what the injured joint can’t. In this example, an injured shoulder (a mobile joint) will cause the elbow (a stable joint) to be asked to be a mobile joint. This is the nature of cascade injuries.[/quote]

I am now purely speculating but if anyone remembers Stephen Strasburg’s chain of events last summer it started with tightness in his shoulder. He went on the DL, missed some starts, came back and popped his UCL. It seems popular and easy to question mechanics but it’s hard to believe the shoulder issue and the UCL injury aren’t related in some manner.

The NPA starts their training with a program they call Foundation Fitness. Without getting too technical the goal is to balance the weak links before training for speed and power. This is essentially done with position specific isometrics in preparation for all other work. Workouts aren’t necessarily based on reps but in time on task- equal time in various positions front, side, and back. For those not accustomed to the workout, i.e. those with “weak links” a 30-45 minute foundation fitness workout will turn you into a "ball of goo”. Once the weak links are addressed the athlete is then released to move on to workouts that emphasize durability, speed and power.

Bottom line is there are different ways to train. Check out this article.

http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/college/season-preview/2011/2611225.html


#12

This thread is one of the reasons this forum is imo as solid and researched as any of it’s kind out there…heck I pretty much feel “outta my league” to a certain extent…but being blockheaded and stubborn…whatta I care!!! :wink:
I think tis is one vast overlooked area…with “bright spots” spotted around the country. I came by it honestly…in two ways…one I was a multi-sport athlete and more recently, my youngest was involved in martial arts.
What you mention Kid is the way a person kind of has to approach it with mutli-sports play. It really came home though when I watched how my son approached and was trained in his martial art…bing…epifiny…
When I hear it’s “best” to train at full speed on a mound…I think about how much time my kid spent doing forms…hours of slow, very concentrated muscle control, shadow boxing…much more like yoga then the fighting it was training for, all directed at focused force application. It is why you hear so much about colleges preferring multi-sport guys. You don’t hear people talk too much anymore about pars course training (I think for several different reasons) but the military still thinks it is the very best way to fully physically train a soldier…they spend billions to find the most efficient ways and they get it right…they can get the “make someone else dead” thing right too :wink:
Steve Carleton was a martial arts guy, as was Kareem in the NBA, I think programs like Kyle is working hard to develop will become more and more in favor…a merging of technology and state of the state training techniques as opposed to a room full of free weights and machines…though there will be some of that too


#13

Well, if an athlete was properly training his/herself, then they would be doing stretching and mobility on top of weight training, as you know, this is not the case. Few athletes have a good lifting program. Fewer have a good mobility and flexibility program.

[quote=“kidmullen”]no one asks how he is trying to maintain or improve those other qualities of athleticism - mobility & flexibility. Sometimes we find out he stretches - before he works out - but how - I think we could provide some better guidance here and help to educate younger players about the importance of training[/quote]Lifting is important yes, but we do much more than overlook mobility, we overlook everything else. I constantly feel like I am a preacher of being a well rounded athlete. This means proper lifting, stretching, sleeping, eating, thinking, etc etc etc. The list goes on and on. We need to focus much more on how to take care of ourselves as a whole than to go out on a limb to focus on what people view as the most important aspect. With this said, I like what you are doing. Jogging the minds of athletes everywhere to find if they are truly doing what is right to keep themselves mobile and strong is important.

You would be surprised how few people, even within college and the high levels of any sport know how to take care of themselves to this level, and it is astonishing. Bottom line is, the man with the better amount of passion and knowledge, along with the capability to learn will succeed.

You are right, videos will help more, so if you can get some up that would be great. Stuff such as the sleeper stretch, its variations, the towel stretch, hip abductors, etc, would be wonderful for the guys here on LTP. I am curious what the most common inefficiencies are in the typical baseball players ROM. While that may help with some people, we need to remember that we should work on full body strength and full body ROM, and not to limit ourselves to what we believe is our weakness, as that may only be a compensation for the true underlying factor.

[quote]I don’t agree that strength - laxity is a continuum where you move across it. You can develop joint laxity and still be quite strong. Stability - Laxity is the continuum, IMO - but depending on the joint, one side could be better and the other could be worse![/quote]Right, but how would you address this as an individual who does not have access to proper facilities on a constant basis to be evaluated, train, become more mobile, then get reevaluated?

[quote]In the case of shoulders this eventually results in tightness in the shoulder/scap area and limited ROM.[/quote]Every pitcher and baseball player has limited internal shoulder ROM, with increased external should ROM. Becoming a focal point of proper mobility training.

[quote]Often the pitcher goes back to the mound and the same issues recur, sometimes in just a few pitches, and the whole process starts over again.[/quote]Typically why we need to address the body as a whole when we work out, and not leave any part of the body out of this. That is why well rounded S&C programs are a great idea for any athlete at the HS level or above.

[quote]It seems popular and easy to question mechanics but it’s hard to believe the shoulder issue and the UCL injury aren’t related in some manner.[/quote]You are right, his injuries probably were related in a way that we cannot know. Remember, the scapula has the main muscle, the teres major, and then the teres minor which account for a big part of the shoulder capsule. These in turn are responsible for both scapula health and rotator health, as the rotator is linked directly with the Teres minor. If the rotator tries to adjust for a scapular issue, you can possibly create overcompensation within both the rotator and the bicep/tricep area, which is closely related to elbow health. Therein lies the problem. Our bodies are so complex, we cannot truly understand how each persons body will react at any given time, so we must be well rounded! I sound like a broken record here, but I hope my point is clear.

This sort of training sounds like a good idea, but how is it available to the common man, and how do you know that a trainer won’t adjust it as they see fit, and thus change the program so it loses its benefits? How do you know you have fully adjusted and fixed all the weak points?

Found these values online, now if only I had the qualifications to measure them and find out where I am on the spectrum:

[quote]Normal Values (in degrees):

* Hip flexion (bending) 0-125
* Hip extension (straightening) 115-0
* Hip hyperextension (straightening beyond normal range) 0-15
* Hip abduction (move away from central axis of body) 0-45
* Hip adduction (move towards central axis of body) 45-0
* Hip lateral rotation (rotation away from center of body) 0-45
* Hip medial rotation (rotation towards center of body) 0-45 

* Knee flexion 0-130
* Knee extension 120-0

* Ankle plantar flexion (movement downward) 0-50
* Ankle dorsiflexion (movement upward) 0-20

* Foot inversion (turned inward) 0-35
* Foot eversion (turned outward) 0-25

* Metatarsophalangeal joints flexion 0-30
* Metatarsophalangeal joints extension 0-80

* Interphalangeal joints of toe flexion 0-50
* Interphalangeal joints of toe extension 50-0

* Shoulder flexion 0-90
* Shoulder extension 0-50
* Shoulder abduction 0-90
* Shoulder adduction 90-0
* Shoulder lateral rotation 0-90
* Shoulder medial rotation 0-90

* Elbow flexion 0-160
* Elbow extension 145-0
* Elbow pronation (rotation inward) 0-90
* Elbow supination (rotation outward) 0-90

* Wrist flexion 0-90
* Wrist extension 0-70
* Wrist abduction 0-25
* Wrist adduction 0-65

* Metacarpophalangeal (MCP) joints abduction 0-25
* MCP adduction 20-0
* MCP flexion 0-90
* MCP extension 0-30

* Interphalangeal proximal (PIP) joints of fingers flexion 0-120
* PIP extension 120-0

* Interphalangeal distal (DIP) joint of fingers flexion 0-80
* DIP extension 80-0

* Metacarpophalangeal joint of thumb abduction 0-50
* MCP of thumb adduction 40-0
* MCP of thumb flexion 0-70
* MCP of thumb extension 60-0

* Interphalangeal joint of thumb flexion 0-90
* Interphalangeal joint of thumb extension 90-0[/quote]

One more thing to add, yoga and pilates are a great way to increase ROM as well within the body and just overall flexibility.


#14

I don’t think any of this stuff is a secret. The two Tom House books I’m most familiar with “Fastball Fitness” and “The Art and Science of Pitching” discuss functional fitness and joint integrity in depth. “Fastball Fitness” probably covers the subject in the most detail with routines not only from the NPA but other conditioning entities as well. Both are available on Amazon for about $20.

If you wish to go further there are DVD’s available on the NPA site. One is called “Functional Strength Training for Pitchers” and the other is called “Fitness on the Field”. These are a little more pricey at around $40. Join the NPA though and you get a discount plus access to the article archives as well as the coaches’ forum.

In reality most of the NPA stuff was developed in collaboration with the Titleist Performance Institute – yes the golf guys. If you go to the My TPI website (www.mytpi.com) you can join for free and get access to their training information as well. You may have to adapt some of the routines to baseball but TPI specializes not only in golf but in training of all rotational athletes. Much of the original NPA motion analysis was done with TPI. Golf is way ahead of baseball in this stuff.

TPI actually certifies fitness instructors as well. If you can find a trainer that is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) as well as TPI Certified then you’ve probably found someone with more than a general understanding of the rotational athlete. They’re out there you just have to search.


#15

QUESTION: What about “stretching?” I know a lot of people have the idea that you have to stretch separately – on its own – to develop flexibility or to warm-up prior to a workout and to “cool down” afterwards.

MCGUFF: Yeah — that’s more fitness industry crap. We go into this in Body By Science. But, for the sake of this interview, let’s define “stretching.” Stretching is the application of force on a muscle at the extremes of its range of motion. Let’s take that as our definition of stretching. Well, if you perform a proper set of high intensity strength training you’re going to be doing a full range of motion. You’re going to be using a weight that provides a meaningful load. Therefore, you’re going to be meaningfully loaded at that muscle’s position of flexion and at that muscle’s position of full extension. Therefore, the stretching is built in to the exercise itself because you have the application of force at the extremes of range of motion of that muscle. Now what most people confuse stretching for is actually what is referred to as “passive insufficiency.” And if you watch most people that are doing a “hurdler’s stretch,” for instance, you a “tugging” sensation in the hamstring muscle but this is not really true stretching. You’re just placing that muscle in a very extended position where it cannot actively contract because the opposing musculature is placed in a position of full contraction. And that produces a sensation of tugging that most people mistake as “stretching.” If you watch people stretch their lats – they’ll raise their arm over their head and bend to one side – it produces a stretching sensation, but you’re not actually stretching the lat. What you’re doing is externally rotating the scapula, so that the point of the shoulder blade is digging into the belly of the latissimus muscle and producing a sensation of pulling or tugging, which is mistaken as stretching. But it’s not stretching – you’re just taking a pointy bony prominence and pushing it into the belly of the muscle.

http://www.bodybyscience.net/home.html/?page_id=119


#16

McGuff is right that full ROM training provides most of the “stretch” you need. Many posts in this thread have nothing to do with stretching and instead mobility.


#17

Here is a list of the joints and their principal function relative to stability and mobility. I am sure we can argue about this - but it is he starting point - I believe this is called the joint-by-joint model or something like that.

Feet: Stability
Ankles: Mobility
Knee: Stability
Hip: Mobility
Lumbar Spine: Stability
Thoracic Spine: Mobility
Scapula: Stability
Shoulder: Mobility
Elbow: Stability
Wrist: Mobility

Notice the alternating nature of the joints - feet - stabilility, ankles - mobility, knees - stability - all the way up the body and out to the hands.

ANKLE MOBILIZATION DRILLS

Here is a link discussing ankle mobility. There are many others out there -

http://ericcressey.com/the-importance-of-ankle-mobility

Dick Mills also identified signs of ankle mobility limitations - basically he said if you couldn’t propoerly do a body weight, back squat barefooted without you heel coming off the ground then in all likelihood you had ankle mobility issues. I believe Mills is married to a physical therapist so this would probably be some good advice - she may have actually said this & not Coach Mills.

The article doesn’t really provide any information on mobilization drills - but it does give some advice for substituting squat variations for traditional back squats - while you work on your mobility.

Here is a link to a video showing mobility drill performance

Here is the directions on the website with some cues.

Stand a few inches away from a wall and place one foot behind you. Bend the lead leg, trying to touch the wall with your knee by dorsiflexing your ankle. Don’t pause at the wall; bring it right back, because this is a mobility drill. Do five touches with each ankle, then move back an inch or two and repeat the process. Go as far back as you can while keeping your heels on the ground. Keep the weight on your heels and don’t push with your toes.

This is from a site called Mark’s Daily Apple.

This drill is easy and you may think a waste of time - but hey - you can probably do a set or two between sets of your deadlifts - it probably is more difficult than sitting on your butt talking to your friend. I would say two sets of 5 or 10 for each foot. Would also say sometype of mobilization work needs to be done any day you workout - make it part of your routine.

KNEE BREAK ANKLE MOBILIZATION

from the site http://www.t-nation.com/readArticle.do?id=4307430

Why do it - helps you squat deeper - gain a better range of motion which activates glutes and increase strength in the hip region. Build that pitcher’s butt to get more powerful.

Performance -

Standing on two 5-10 lb. plates (toes on the plates, heels on the ground), simply “push” your knees over your toes, without pronating or allowing the knees to collapse into valgus (caving in). For some, you may find a significant restriction, but it’s important not to force range of motion. Use what ROM you have, and just rock back and forth.

My note - Best to do barefoot if at all possible.

Video -


#18

Just a quick post on a resource that does daily mobility videos. The guy who does it is Kelly Starrett and he is a CrossFit guy. However, he is also a physical therapist and is attacking the mobility issue head on.

Figured we might as well check it out as it pertains to the topic at hand. Give it a look: