If your weekend plans include making a trip to your local ballpark to take in America's pastime, pause between bites of that frank to note the number of players on the DL. Injuries among Major League Baseball players are on the rise, according to recent research published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine.
In the study, pitchers got hurt most often, accounting for 62 percent of all disability days; most of these injuries are to the serratus anterior muscle, an important muscle that:
- Helps control shoulder and scapular function by protracting and upwardly rotating the scapula
- Assists in stabilizing the scapula against the rib cage, preventing scapular winging
- Helps prevent shoulder impingement
As Head Athletic Trainer of the Boston Red Sox and leading expert in the field of physical therapy, Mike Reinold has developed protocols to address injury to the serratus anterior.
While traditional protraction exercises have been effective in strengthening the serratus, Mike cites recent research that has identified that serratus activity is increased when combining both protraction and upward rotation of the scapula. “This movement helps to train the serratus in a functional pattern that combines the muscle’s important role in scapular mobility,” says Mike.
Based on this research, Mike began using a dynamic jab exercise as a baseline for basic training and rehabilitation of the serratus. Since this exercise is quickly mastered, further challenge is required. “Incorporating a closed kinetic chain position and unstable surface training will require a greater degree of dynamic stability of the scapula and promote neuromuscular control,” says Mike. To achieve this, he began incorporating the TRX Suspension Trainer into his rehabilitation programs and created the TRX Serratus Slide.
“The TRX Suspension Trainer is an excellent method of performing the serratus slide exercise that challenges both the strength and stabilizing functions of the serratus muscle,” says Mike. “Furthermore, the amount of challenge can quickly be adjusted by modifying the angle of the exercise.”
- To begin, place your forearms onto the TRX handles or foot cradles (see video above).
- Lean forward, keeping your elbows tucked by your sides.
- Elevate your arms and round your scapula around your rib cage.
- Push out and up until your elbows are close to eye level.
- Pause at the top of the movement with your shoulders rounded and slowly return to the start position.
Keeping the serratus anterior muscle strong will not only give clients and athletes a defined chest but also will keep the shoulder joint stable and healthy. Great news if you’re a MLB pitcher… or planning to dominate on the mound at the next corporate softball game.
Mike Reinold is currently the Head of Athletic Training of the Boston Red Sox and a leading expert in the field of physical therapy, athletic training and strength and conditioning. He has published and lectured extensively regarding topics of rehabilitation and sports medicine and shares his thoughts and experience on his website (www.MikeReinold.com).