To maximize your performance and reduce the risk of injury, it’s imperative that you understand how the shoulder complex functions.
The Shoulder is Designed for Motion
To better understand the function of the shoulder complex, picture a golf ball sitting on a tee. This is the glenohumeral (GH) joint’s function by design—a full range of motion through many planes but little structural stability.
The rotator cuff muscles are responsible for providing stability (keeping the golf ball on the tee) to the gleno-humeral joint.
Stabilizing the joint is easy when your arm is immobilized. However, it requires a lot more work when you’re throwing a ball or swinging a bat.
Microtrauma Can Lead to Rotator Cuff Injuries
The rotator cuff consists of four muscles that pull the humeral head (ball) into the glenoid (socket) during arm movement.
The repetitive microtrauma that accumulates over weeks, months and even years can lead to injury. This is common with baseball and volleyball players and even CrossFitters. The pain starts slowly and builds up over time.
It’s not just overuse that causes microtrauma to the shoulder. A common problem is that athletes continue to perform after they are fatigued. This means they are exceeding their ability to control motion through the shoulder complex. This is why youth baseball leagues and even Major League teams use pitch counts.
Whether throwing, hitting or pressing overhead, doing so when you’ve lost the ability to control the kinetic chain can lead to injury.
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