Having a well-maintained shoulder can impact your throwing capabilities on the field. So, it’s important to include shoulder rotation exercises in your baseball and softball training.
One vital part of a player’s shoulder motion is the internal rotation. “Baseball (and) softball players generally lose internal rotation over time because they get strong and tight in the back of their shoulder,” says Frank Velasquez, director of sports performance for Allegheny Health Network. This ability is important because it helps to slow your arm down at the end of your throwing motion. Velasquez likens the function to a plane on a runway.
A great stretch to use for internal rotation is the “sideline sleeper stretch.” All you will need is a flat surface to lie on, making it easy to do this stretch just about anywhere.
To perform this exercise, lie on your side with your throwing arm perpendicular to your torso. Have your elbow bent at 90 degrees and your forearm in the air. Lock your shoulder in place by putting your chin into your shoulder. This chin placement, according to Velasquez, can help limit your arm’s range of motion. The less range of motion, the better the stretch on your posterior capsule.
Once your shoulder is locked in, take your free hand and pull your forearm gently toward the ground. Hold for a second or two and then release it back up to the starting position.
“We want to do that about eight to 10 times, and you want to do it after you’ve warmed up,” Velasquez notes. “So, after you do your active warmup and you’re moving around, and you’ve broken a sweat, get on the ground, get on the table and do your sideline sleeper stretch to help maintain or regain your internal rotation for your shoulder.”
Be sure to focus on stretching the shoulder of your throwing arm. While performing the sleeper stretch on both shoulders can be nice and get your body ready for the day’s activities, it is not necessary.
Don’t forget other key joint areas that need to be limbered up prior to taking the field, too. Once you’ve completed your shoulder internal rotation stretches, you can move on to your hips (Link) and thoracic spine (Link) for a well-rounded stretching routine for baseball and softball.