Who hasn’t had a little twinge in the throwing shoulder at least once?
It’s not surprising when you look at how the joint is brilliant and versatile, yet complex and unstable. If you don’t look after your shoulder, all that throwing, bowling and hitting will cause you a lot of pain!
So, PitchVision Academy got Barry Deeks, a personal trainer and club cricketer, to explain more about protecting your shoulder. He came up with some exercises you can do anywhere to keep the pain away.
What to look after
When we talk about “the shoulder” we really mean several different things:
- Three bones: the humerus (upper arm bone), the clavicle (collarbone), and the scapula (shoulder blade).
- The scapulothoracic joint: This is located where the shoulder blade (the scapula) glides along the chest wall (the thorax).
- Two large muscles: The subscapularis, attaches over the front of the scapula where it faces the chest wall. The serratus anterior attaches along the edge of the scapula nearest the spine. It passes in front of the scapula, wraps around the chest wall, and connects to the ribs on the front part of the chest.
These all work together to give you the awesomeness of your shoulder.
It is important to mobilise the joint and strengthen the muscles. This makes them less prone to injury whilst playing. Secondly it helps you improve your batting and bowling technique by automatically correcting postural faults.
1. Scapular press up
This exercise will work your serratus anterior muscle. This helps you to avoid 'winging' of your shoulder blade: your shoulder blade sits nice and flat on your rib cage rather than sticking out like a wing on your back.
Assume a press up position, body straight, core tight. Now, keeping your arms straight lower your body so that only your shoulder blades come together, then push back up to spread your shoulder blades. This is a very small movement.
2. Shoulder rotations
Grab a towel or resistance band and hold with tension so that your hands are a bit wider than shoulder width apart. Keep your elbows straight and still, lift your arms above your head and reach as far behind as is possible/comfortable. Return to waist and repeat. Maintain the tension on the towel at all times.
3. Ball to wall stabilisation
Stand facing a wall at arms length. Place a tennis ball in your hand and hold the ball against the wall at shoulder height. Using small movements start by drawing circles on the wall with the ball. Do this a few times with each hand. Then try a figure of eight or writing your name one letter at a time.
These two exercises will mobilize the small muscles (rotator cuffs) that control and stabilise the joint.
You may remember these from school. Stand with your hands on your shoulders, elbows pointing out to the side and draw circles with your elbows. Start small and slowly get larger. Repeat in the opposite direction.
The trapezius and the rhomboids work around the shoulder and assist in keeping the shoulder blade stable.
These muscles are worked during rowing and rear flye exercises.
Add all these movements to your warm up and keep your shoulder safe!