Strength in Numbers #45
I will introduce you to a person in the baseball industry that you have likely never heard of, but you’ll get tons of insight from him in this week’s newsletter and podcast.
In my career, I have always been interested in those in the industry that work with injured athletes and rebuild deliveries to create resilient throwing arms. But, even more so, I am focused on surrounding myself with pitching coaches who have medical backgrounds to get athletes out of pain.
And I’ll say, pain is vicious…
It distorts freedom of motion, restricting mobility and elasticity, reducing throwing arm speed and ball velocity. What’s even more challenging is that it causes kinesophobia.
This issue is a psychophysiological problem (body and brain) where an athlete fears pain and re-injury from a high-speed movement that can occur long after the healing has taken place and occurs in athletes who are completely absent of inflammation.
One of the most challenging experiences I’ve had in my coaching career is working with injured athletes, especially across a spectrum of arm injuries. For example, you must wait 6 weeks to grip with TJ cases, and athletes are in a brace for a while, and most times, you cannot even sprint with them for fear of falling and reinjuring their graft or docking site.
As a result, lower body power decreases, increasing the risk for further injuries. The location of the UCL graft creates other complexities. I get into this phenomenon more in this week’s edition of ArmCare FX, where if the gracilis tendon or a hamstring tendon is used, it creates further issues because you must prevent hamstring strains because of the surgery.
If the athlete is progressed too rapidly in high-speed running, the setback could require a secondary revision surgery if the athlete does not build up well, or if the lower body pain causes compensations in the delivery from altered ground reaction force. It is all quite challenging, and when it comes to rehabilitation, everything must be individualized.
I understand “protocols” for treatment and rehabilitation, but every injury is different, and I believe that is more of an art than a science. In any event, pain is always used as the progressive rate-limiting step in expediting recovery times.
Given that fact, why do we not focus on eliminating pain in our coaching and injury prevention approaches?
INTRODUCING MIKE KILLIAN
One person who I would have never come across if I didn’t start working with ArmCare.com is Mike Killian in the St. Louis area.
He’s a throwing pain expert and is the swiss army knife of coaches and people for that matter. Mike is a licensed athletic trainer, a former computer engineer working for IBM, a graphic artist, and a profound pitching coach among other things.
He works with all athletes in their return to performance, but his forte is baseball pitchers and getting them out of pain. He’s interesting because in the traditional sense of “rehabilitation”, the athlete gets passed from the therapist to the coach and typically loses contact with the therapist when re-entering competition.
Mike’s offering is different.
The athlete never loses contact with him as he’s both a clinician and coach—it’s a seamless transition from injury to return to performance programming to competition. Everything passes under his nose, and there are very few people who can do what he can. Mike was an early adopter of our product.
He’s been with us through all our growing pains. Like any new technology, he’s battled the times when we have had bugs, new metrics to wrap his head around, and being double-billed upon occasion. Although these things frustrated both the customer and the company, I look at these pain points as small miracles, as they deepen a connection between our company and our customers.
Mike had to email us often, and we struck up some great conversations over email that led to texting and deeper discussions on how to properly return athletes to excellence and get them out of pain. Mike works with many MLB, minor league, and college guys, but his business caters to any athlete throwing at any age or level of play. Through Mike, I have seen how he assesses a problem.
He knows where the pain is and looks to find the source and not be blinded by the symptom. He has also shown us the power of strength assessment and how he’s been able to pivot in his return to performance throwing programs and arm-specific training so that his athletes are optimally loaded.
One of his athletes has the strongest arm we have ever seen, with an ArmScore reaching 111 (that means that his arm strength is 11% greater than his body weight, and the kid weighs over 200lbs!)
He tells amazing stories in this week’s podcast. There was so much content that we had to break up his case studies into chunks, but this first one is an introduction to himself and the new brand identity for his company called Rejuvenation Pitching.
Quite fittingly, the company logo is a powerful butterfly. It makes sense because when he gets an athlete, the athlete is in pain, and the athlete is walled up in a cocoon, closed off mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Mike repairs these athletes on so many levels, cracks their cocoons, and awakens them from being dormant to spread their wings and fly!
If you know someone skilled in rehabilitating the throwing arm, please have them reach out to me, as we need more awareness on managing pain through strengthening and adjusting the delivery to increase longevity.
Fatigue is the enemy, AND pain is the precursor to injury.
Injury causes kinesiophobia, which is the rate-limiting step to regaining performance, as even the thought of being in pain can prevent athletes from moving forward in their rehabilitation.
Therefore, we need to protect our athletes from this cycle by addressing fatigue and preventing muscle weakness.