If your arm care training is only done with your hands in the air using cuff weights, bands, and dumbbells, you may be leaving important strength gains on the table for your throwing arm.
This week’s Strength in Numbers indicates why it’s vital that some of your training is done with your hands on the ground.
Open vs. Closed Chain
For starters, wrist weights, dumbbells, and bands are all open chain movements. That means that your hand is not in contact with a fixed surface, and the arm moves around the fixed anchor point provided by the scapula. The opposite of open chain training is closed chain training. Closed chain exercises for the upper body have your hands are on the floor or stable surface, and the hand is now locked so that the shoulder blade moves about the fixed arm. Push-ups are a great example of a closed chain exercise.
Note that the critical distinction between closed and open chain exercise is the emphasis on the movement of the scapula along the rib cage. This means that closed-chain training is a great option to target the scapular stabilizers that are especially important to throwing and highly focuses on one muscle, in particular, being the serratus anterior.
The Serratus Anterior
The serratus anterior is highly active throughout the entire throwing delivery from layback to ball release. It is a key muscle in moving the scapula upward so that the arm can elevate to a consistent release point. Due to its constant muscular activity in throwing, the serratus is impacted by fatigue. If serratus strength is lost, the throwing arm will change its position in 3D space by lowering, and even worse, the athlete may increase lean to the glove side to maintain the release point and increase stress on the throwing elbow.
The problem with push-ups and other closed chain exercises in the plank position is that the serratus is most active above shoulder height, and for many athletes, push-ups are not enough effort to strengthen the serratus effectively.
How can you train to withstand such loads and activate the serratus—a muscle that is so instrumental in positioning the throwing arm?
In our ArmCare IQ segment, we answer this question by demonstrating inverted closed chain shoulder training and its role in building a stronger throwing arm.
Watch the video to learn more and get ready for our updated ArmCare App training coming out later this year, which will feature inverted closed chain training progressions to maximize throwing arm health and performance.