The Way We Train the Throwing Arm Needs a Makeover

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A few weeks ago, Kyle Matsel, a physical therapist and leading researcher into arm care training trends, came on our podcast to discuss his research and what is wrong with the current training approaches.

He mentioned that currently, training without assessment may be causing further injury, as the biggest culprit mentioned in his research is the lack of individualization.

In his nationwide study, over 600 coaches felt that their process would be improved by providing customized programs, but they were limited in their ability to offer them. But if you see the limiters, the Arm Care App provides a way to solve these problems.

Arm Care Hang-Ups

Most coaches stated one of their biggest concerns with individualized arm care training was the inability to measure or assess their athletes, so they didn’t know what imbalances and strength deficits to address (ref).

But even the higher levels of baseball that do have resources to assess and individualize arm care training, problems exist that prevent individualized training. The professional and collegiate level of baseball is unique in that arm care programs are generally constructed by the medical staff. At the same time, strength coaches train areas around the throwing arm with compound lifting techniques, plyometrics, and core stabilization. Then the pitching coaches oversee on-field activation of the throwing arm.

This system means that three separate entities are programming the throwing athlete for improved health, velocity, and command, but programs still may lack specification because of this complexity or a communication disconnect may be present across multiple stakeholders in conditioning the throwing arm. For example, it’s not uncommon for a large group to all perform the same lifts, same arm care, and same preparation routine because it’s easier to implement a one size fits all training approach—but in reality, one size fits none. 

The Outcome

To be clear, we’re not blaming anyone!

A massive challenge existed to improve training and preparation designs before the design of the Arm Care App. And in the amateur world, the pitching coach, who designed the entire arm care program, had zero access to data-led monitoring to help guide the training approach.

All this said, it’s believed that overly generalized training programs contribute to the Tommy John epidemic. Generalized programs may promote rotator cuff imbalances by furthering the strength differences between the front and back of the shoulder, a common imbalance that occurs between the muscles that manage the acceleration and deceleration of the throwing arm.

arm care baseball

In this week’s ACIQ, you’ll see how Arm Care is changing the way things are done.

We’ll dive into detail about the main cause of injury, fatigue, and how strength assessment is at the center of all things related to health, velocity, and command. You’ll see that strength is the interconnection between more physiologic causes of fatigue and is the gateway to better prepare athletes to handle mechanical stress, especially when movement compensations arise because of acute and chronic fatigue during a season.  

Our bottom line is that athletes need specialization to see the greatest benefits, and coaches need access to the technology and training to customize programming.  The adage, “If you are not assessing, you are guessing,” is highly applicable to our current state of throwing arm health in baseball.

From what it looks like, the baseball world has been guessing wrong, and it’s time to change. We encourage players, coaches, athletes, and clinicians to purchase our platform and be specific in conditioning today’s competitive throwing arms. Athletes are not cookies and should not be put into cookie-cutter programs any longer. We have the technology to ensure we put an end to “one-size fits none” programs and start seeing positive change in the state of arm care and the health and performance of our players.

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