Pitcher Arm Care: Why You Need More Than Shoulder Exercises

STACK Expert Miguel Aragoncillo explains what it takes to make your arms strong and healthy for rotational sports like baseball.

Cracking the arm care code involves understanding multiple facets of strength, mobility and force production, along with specific shoulder exercises for shoulder health. These items are of the utmost importance when you are striving for elite performance in baseball—or any rotational sport.

In reality, it is not only the small msucles that matter, but also the whole delivery of how a movement like throwing occurs. If one part of the kinetic chain is off, many subsequent parts will also be "off."

Another thought process involves understanding that throwing is a very fast motion. Without the requisite strength developed through strength training, power will be limited, and compensatory movement patterns will occur.

RELATED: How to Build Arm Strength for Baseball: Throwing Drills

Where does this leave us? What kinds of exercises are important? I'd argue the whole package of training various physiological attributes—strength, power, muscular endurance—is important, as is respecting what individual muscle groups can do in isolation.

In terms of prioritization, performing movements in isolation "reminds" the body what it means to move in a range of motion with a certain amount of strength. With this rationale, we can clump movements like our "arm-care" exercises together.

Isolation Arm-Care Exercises

A1. Prone One-Arm Trap Raise - 3x8/side

In this series, you create posterior tilt of the scapulae by achieving motion in the One-Arm Trap Raise. As you move onto the Side Bridge, with your top arm you can improve your lateral abdominal endurance while moving your top hand to free up some shoulder restrictions.

RELATED: 4 Ways To Take Care of Your Throwing Arm

Next, you can improve your arm care by progressing from isolation exercises to high force production exercises such as med ball circuits involving throws, scoops, and slams.

Med Ball Circuits

A1. Rotational Med Ball Scoop Toss - 3x5/side

A2. Reactive Rotational Med Ball Shotput - 3x5/side

With these drills, you achieve faster reaction times to realize power and force production on another level. You also improve your ability to get in and out of your hips, achieving weight shifts, and enhance your hand-eye coordination as you release and catch the medicine ball.

Afterward, performing holistic and large-scale exercises like Chops, Lifts, Lunges and Deadlifts provides an all-encompassing strategy for gaining monstrous power.

A second reason to include strength training exercises involves understanding that holding and moving heavy objects improves tensile strength of passive restraints—like your arm's tendons and ligaments—on top of muscular strength.

Using solely isolation arm care exercises would be rudimentary, and although they might be slightly effective, they don't comprise the total picture of what is necessary for elite athletes to improve.

Strength Training Exercises

A1. Barbell RDL - 5x5

A2. Prone Bridge Shoulder Taps - 3x8/side

In this series of exercises, you improve strength in the beginning with a Deadlift variation, then enhance your anterior core stabilization. Both are important for athletes to achieve higher levels of strength, which will transfer to their respective sports.

B1. Kettlebell Goblet Lateral Lunge - 3x8/side

B2. Half Kneeling One-Arm Cable Row - 3x8/side

In this series of exercises, you improve unilateral strength in both your upper- and lower-body. Stabilizing your lower half also includes a stretch for your hip flexors, which can come in handy when you're coming off a season of playing baseball, since they might be excessively tight.

C1. Half Kneeling Cable Chop - 3x10/side

C2. One-Arm DB Farmer's Walk - 3x40 yards

Challenging stability in the abdominals is important, and the ability to handle high-intensity movements requires greater control of the abdominals, so unilateral strength in the Farmer's Walk, along with the rotary demands of the Cable Chop improve your chances of improving movement patterns on a holistic level.

RELATED: 6 Best Rotator Cuff Exercises For Young Baseball Players

Cracking the arm care code involves a multidisciplinary approach, and this does not even take into account the differences in strength and power from individual to individual, or training age. The transfer from this approach will take into account various force vectors, kinematics and needs that each individual will have on a case-by-case basis.

When you are deadlifting a heavy weight, are you not stabilizing with your rotator cuff at a maximal level? Abdominals are also engaged in an authentic manner on top of taxing your lower body. These come into play when speaking about force production, which proves another point of improving movement qualities on top of improving physiological qualities necessary for elite levels in sports. In essence, this sounds like "total body care," instead of just "arm-care" exercises.

My final message is to help you understand that arm-care mechanics are much more than simply band work against a fence, or haphazardly waving your arms around in various letters of the alphabet. Improve the body holistically, and you can improve how hard, and fast you can throw, sprint, and play the game of baseball.

Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock