The following is a summary of equipment in the UCL Protection Package meant for elbow and forearm exercises for pitchers and baseball players:
- Digital Programs (email and online access w/videos)
- UCL Protection Program
- 1 Activation Band
- 1 Grip Strengthener
- 1 Club Bell Pronator
- 1 Wrist and Forearm Trainer
- Pair of 5.5 lbs. Plates (purchased separately on this site)
The following article is to summarize how we attempt to help stabilize and protect our pitchers and baseball players’ UCL (also known as the Tommy John ligament) with several elbow and forearm exercises we perform here at RPP.
But before we get into it, let’s go over the current situation. A recent study in The Physician and Sports Medicine showed that 29% of youth baseball players up to the age of 12 reported episodes of shoulder or elbow pain. Another report in the Journal of Arthroscopy noted 31% of pitchers up to the age of 22 have experienced an arm injury as well. Over a third of Tommy John procedures performed are on youth pitchers. Here is a graph showing the rise in Tommy John surgeries performed on youth each year by Dr. James Andrews (American Sports Medical Institute):
With that said, let’s get into it:
- Strengthen the “Flexor / Pronator” Groups
- Improve Shoulder Mobility
- Controlling Excessive ROM During the Season
1. Strengthen the “Flexor / Pronator” Groups
These are some of the muscles that help stabilize and protect the elbow, especially in the “layback” position:
- Flexor Digitorum Superficialis
- Flexor Carpi Radialis
- Flexor Carpi Ulnaris
- Pronator Teres
The flexor digitorum superficialis is an extrinsic muscle that allows the four medial fingers of the hand to flex. These fingers include the index, middle, ring, and pinkie fingers.
The flexor carpi radialis muscle is a relatively thin muscle located on the anterior part of the forearm. It performs the function of providing flexion of the wrist and assists in abduction of the hand and wrist.
The flexor carpi ulnaris arises along with the other superficial muscles, from the medial epicondyle of the humerus. These muscles flex the wrist and adduct it (move it laterally in the direction of ulnar).
The pronator teres muscle is located on the palmar side of the forearm, below the elbow. its function is to rotate the forearm palm-down. This is also known as pronation.
Here are a few of the exercises we perform on non-throwing days to strengthen the flexor/pronator group.
(Wrist Flexion / Extension Stretch – x20-30 sec/side)
Strengthening Exercises (1-2 sets ea / 2x per week)
(Wrist and Forearm Trainer – x3/ea way)
(Pronators – x8 reps)
(Pronation/Supination – x10 / side)
(Grip Strengthener – x5, 5 sec holds)
2. Improve Shoulder Mobility
A lack of shoulder flexion has been shown to place stress on the medial elbow. Improving shoulder mobility will go a long way in helping to take extra torque /stress off the UCL.
(Band Standing Shoulder Flexion – x8)
(Side Lying Windmill – x8 / side)
3. Controlling Excessive ROM During the Season
Gains in external rotation (ER) happen naturally for pitchers and baseball players from throwing during the season, but excessive gains in ER can create an unstable shoulder, forcing the elbow to have to take up the slack and placing added stress on the UCL. Monitoring throwing volume, as well as participating in a good in-season strength training program complete with shoulder stabilizations during the season, can be a career saver.