Baseball Players – Do not Forget Leg Day!
In my previous post, we discussed 5 tips to make a healthy return to training after an off-season. In the post, I referenced the importance of core and leg strength in a baseball-training program. However, why are the legs so important in a sport that seems to recruit primarily the upper body? While the upper body strength and skill training is an asset, making sure you hit leg day is just as important! Strong legs and core can make the difference between throwing a ball that will just barely make it across the plate and one that has extra power behind it!
Weak core and legs can increase risk for injury!
Over the years, I have treated a number of baseball players that have exemplary upper body strength but fail to execute pitches / throws that have a corresponding amount of power behind it. Through treatment of these athletes, it has become more and more apparent that while their upper body is extremely conditioned their core and leg strength is lacking.
Throwing by recruiting just the arms is one of the fastest way to cause an early end to the season. The shoulder complex is one of the most mobile joints of the body, allowing throwers to attain great range of motion required for throwing. While this is a benefit for throwing, the high mobility of the joint results in reduced stability throughout the shoulder. This means that while the mobility is great, the shoulder joint is not inherently stable enough to tolerate the high velocity and stress placed upon it. As a result, many times the internal structures of the shoulder joint can be strained and excessively stretched from the stress of “arm throwing”.
I have even seen a shoulder that was stretched so significantly from repetitive arm throwing that it caused the athlete to dislocate his shoulder because of the lack of stability, ending his baseball season prematurely. If one can balance his lower body and core strength with the upper body they can help reduce the risk for shoulder / arm injuries.
Why leg and core strength?
When a baseball is thrown the force that is developed prior and during the wind up originates in the legs. This force formed during this phase also ultimately needs to be distributed somewhere. “Arm throws” tend to transfer that excessive force through the rest of the arm, frequently into the elbow stressing the inside aspect. This can lead to aggressive straining of ligaments and tendons of the elbow. If this stress occurs repetitively for extended periods of time it can cause injuries ranging from mild tendinitis to ligament tearing. This can be avoided by transferring the force from the throw elsewhere… THE LEGS AND CORE!
When a thrower has a strong core it not only helps to increase the stability at the shoulder joint but also acts to absorb and dissipate force from the throw. The follow through of any throw should cross the body. “Arm throws” typically stop short of the follow through. By following through it allows the force from the throw to cross the body through the core and into the legs where the force is ultimately transferred into the ground. Throwers need to be strong across the entire path of the throw, and by visualizing a follow through you can see how that includes crossing the core and legs.
Your legs and core are the foundation of your house (your body). If the foundation is weak you run the risk of the house falling apart! Strengthen the core and legs to support the rest of the body and maximize your throws.
REMEMBER DON’T FORGET LEG DAY!!