So Many Overhead Throwing Athletes at 212

by Sean St. Onge

Whether you were an athlete in high school, college, professional or currently a human being that has never played organized sports, we are all able to perform "athletic" movements. A client asked once, "Why do we do Heidens?" ("Heidens," aka "skater's lunges," are named after Eric Heiden, former 5-time gold medal speed skater). In order for us, as humans, to move properly we need to train and "practice" our everyday movements with some amount of resistance and frequency in order to maintain muscle density, strength, and overall mobility. The movement in question, Heiden/skater's lunge, is a lateral (side to side) movement. The question was not to demean or out of sheer hatred for the exercise, it was this client wondered why a person that works in a fairly sedentary job would ever have to explode side to side at a given moment. My retort was simple to the point; that should something come barreling directly at you, hopefully you will move aside as quickly as possible. Building reflexes to the unknown is what keeps you agile.

"What a coach..."- Lain Myer

So in many ways, we are all able to perform some means of athleticism. As it pertains to 212 Health and Performance, I see tons of athleticism from what goes on in our classes, in training sessions, to all of the offsite events our clientele participate in (Dragon Boat Races, Strongman Competitions, Marathons, 5K's, "Mud Run's", Spartan Races, etc.). With that said, I was at a seminar and some facts about baseball pitchers' arm care and exercises was the topic and this was mentioned:"When a pitcher cocks their arm, where it is turned back to the point where the palm is facing toward the sky, there's about 100 Newton-meters of torque on the arm, which subjects the arm to the same amount of stress as if the pitcher had a 60-pound weight hanging from his hand in that position." - Dr. Glenn Fleisig , Popular Mechanics 2010

After learning this, I thought of all of the overhead movements we do at 212. Yet, in reference to the specific "care" that goes into what a paid professional pitcher has to do to keep their arm in shape and strengthened during the off season and in season. Outside of swinging a golf club, pitching a baseball could quite be the most violent motion with as much torque and speed we do overhead. When I say "overhead throwing athletes" that includes baseball, volleyball, tennis, lacrosse, football, get the point. Now for non-professional athletes, what would be our needs? Well in the grand scheme of exercises, many of the overhead lifts we do transfer over into what would be considered "high torque" and "stressful" to elbows, and shoulders. Although we are very thorough with our assessments with each individual that we train at 212, I would like to mention that with the amount of frequency in those overhead exercises (Kettlebell , Dumbbell Snatches, Overhead Dumbbell, Barbell and Kettlebell Presses, Jerks, and even Kettlebell, Dumbbell, and Barbell Cleans) CAN translate into potential injury.Now every exercise you perform DOES have the chance to leave you injured. With or without weight. And... *I am in NO WAY saying we should STOP, more over saying YOU personally should STOP doing these movements.*AND If you should be able to be taught these exercises, it does NOT preclude you from being potentially injured while practicing them at any given time.I WILL go on to mention, that if professional athletes are doing this to their bodies and being paid we should heed what their trainers and therapists have them do to be preventative.

MY POINT... With the amount of these type of exercises being performed  & the fact that the exercises can be providing as much torque as a pitcher throwing a 90 plus mph fastball ( I won't even get into breaking balls/curveballs, change ups etc.) we should all utilize as much "Care" to our bodies as possible.If a 100mph fastball puts for a split second 60lbs. of stress on your elbow, you can do your own math on what a 53lb Kettlebell snatch can do.All of the exercises we help you and have you perform at 212 have a purpose, rhyme, and reason. For every one exercise that may not fit for you, your injuries, your progression or regression, there is another myriad of exercises and tools to supplement your needs. There is NO "one size fits all" mentality.How can you take better care of your body?1: Change the tool and exercise...You can become too efficient and you DO become injured while performing these drills, one of us at 212 would notice and change the tool. Kettlebell Snatches can be replaced with Dumbbell Snatches, and Overhead Dumbbell Swings (usually only taught at 212 H & P, there is a difference), and specific Medicine ball work based on creating the same desired effects of the exercise. Replace overhead presses with Supine (on your back) Crossover Presses, Landmine Presses, and Kettlebell Arm Bars  to name a few.2: Self Myofascial Release/ Soft Tissue Work (Massage)Tools like lacrosse and softballs to work to your Forearms, Wrists, Pectoralis (Chest) ,Lat (Upper & Mid Back)and Shoulder Girdle areas will only loosen what is more than likely tight and lax of mobility due to occupation, posture,  and being part of "Desk Jockey Nation."Learn how to here/special-programs/?options%5Bids%5D=147&options%5Bsite_id%5D=225083. Dedicated Mobility Drills and Proper Warm UpSpending more time doing Quadruped Chin Tucks ("Cat and Cow" Yoga Pose) , Thoracic Mobility Drills (where you extend your limb past the plane of your shoulder or ear depending if you were face down or not) as well as Scapular Wall Slides and Forearm Slides to name a few. If you are performing those exercises, YOU are an overhead throwing athlete. Treat yourselves as such and take Care of yourselves as needed.SOAP BOX...OUT.