Main keyphrase: softball injuries
Secondary keyphrase: prehab training
Title tag: Prevent softball injuries with prehab training
Meta description: Avoid softball injuries with a simple prehab training program that strengthens shoulder muscles using inexpensive tubing.
Alt tag 1 – main photo: Softball athlete icing injured shoulder
Alt tag – photo 2: Kansas Coach Jen McFalls
Alt tag – photo 3: Shoulder “I” prehab training exercise
Alt tag – photo 4: Shoulder “Y” prehab training exercise
Alt tag – photo 5: Shoulder “T” prehab training exercise
Prevent Softball Injuries with Prehab Shoulder Training Program
As the sport of softball continues to grow, so do the number of athlete injuries.
For softball players, the upper body is one of the most common areas affected. The repetitive motion of overhand throwing stresses the shoulder and arm, often leading to a variety of overuse injuries. In fact, shoulder and elbow injuries have increased five-fold since 2000.1
The good news is that more than 50 percent of all sports injuries are preventable, according to the Centers for Disease Control.2
Prevent in-season softball injuries
The key lies in establishing a “prehab” training program, which keeps athletes from getting injured in the first place. Kansas Coach Jen McFalls is a firm believer in this approach, and it plays an important role in her team training.
“Strength and conditioning was a big part of my regimen when I was playing as an athlete. I’m a true believer of it,” said McFalls. “The biggest takeaway is simply injury prevention. The more time you spend with these exercises, the less injuries you’re going to have.”
During the regular season, the Lady Jayhawks follow an intense schedule. A standard week includes two days of weight training, four days of playing, and one day for rest and rehab. To keep her players healthy, McFalls employs a specially designed prehab shoulder stability program.
Prehab shoulder training exercises
The Kansas prehab training program involves the use of bands or tubing of varying tensions. Simple to use, the bands provide many benefits: They’re versatile and can be used to strengthen multiple muscle groups. They’re also low-cost, require minimal storage space, and are easy to carry to away games.
To ensure full-team access to prehab equipment, the Lady Jayhawks team trainer created tubing sets for every player. Each set consists of three different tubing tensions and a large carabiner, all purchased at low cost from Home Depot.
During practices and before games, the Kansas players use the tubing sets to perform the series of exercises below. To begin, athletes attach the tubing to a fence. Or, if no fence is available, they place the tubing underneath one foot to hold it in place.
Shoulder I’s – Athlete starts with arms at her sides. She then raises her arms straight out in front of her body, creating an “I” with her arms. After reaching maximum extension, she lowers her arms back to her sides. Do 5 reps each with thumbs up, thumbs in, and thumbs out. Athlete should focus on pinching her shoulders back as she raises her arms.
Shoulder Y’s – Athlete starts with arms at her sides. She then raises her arms in front of her body, angling her arms in a “Y.” After reaching maximum extension, she lowers her arms back to her sides. Do 5 reps each with thumbs up, thumbs in, and thumbs out. Athlete should focus on pinching her shoulders back as she raises her arms.
Shoulder T’s – Athlete starts with arms at her sides. She then raises her arms to her sides in a “T.” After reaching maximum extension, she lowers her arms back to her sides. Do 5 reps each with thumbs up, thumbs in, and thumbs out. Athlete should focus on pinching her shoulders back as she raises her arms.
“Doing these exercises on a daily basis has been extremely helpful for us in terms of injury prevention with shoulders,” said McFalls. “For those working with younger athletes, this is something you can do every day that is very, very helpful for them.”
Keep players healthy in the off-season
The off-season provides another opportunity for athletes to maintain their health using prehab exercises. While they take a break from competition, players can build full-body strength and foundational skills that prepare them for next season. Providing your athletes with a set of portable bands gives them an easy way to stay in shape outside of team training sessions.
“They can take them with them in the summertime. You can use them in the fall. You should be able to use them in the spring. We use them year-round,” said McFalls. “We also do these [exercises] every day during season. We take them [the bands] with us on the road. During our season when we’re playing, before games, it’s part of our exercises. We do this as part of our warm-up every single day.”
The fall season is an especially important time for strengthening muscles. According to a Journal of Athletic Training study, softball athletes tend to get injured most often during the first month of training. 3 Starting your team on a prehab regimen prior to the regular season lowers this risk.
Prehab is better than rehab
Softball injuries can quickly derail a promising season. The best way to deal with untimely injuries is to keep them from happening. Following a prehab training program like the one used by McFalls and her Lady Jayhawks can help your team stay healthy and strong throughout the season.
Want to learn more? Check out this video featuring McFalls as she shares prehab training tips you can use with your own team.
You may also be interested in these related videos:
1 – “Preserving the Future of Sport: From Prevention to Treatment of Youth Overuse Sports Injuries.” AOSSM 2009 Annual Meeting Pre-Conference Program. Keystone, Colorado.
2 – Mangan, Dr. Douglas. (Sep. 5, 2018.) “Majority of youth sports injuries can be prevented, here’s how to keep kids safe.” USA Today. Retrieved from https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/allthemoms/2018/09/05/majority-youth-sports-injuries-can-prevented-heres-how/1139104002/
3 – Shanley, Ellen et al. (2011). “Incidence of Injuries in High School Softball and Baseball Players.” J Athl Train; 46 (6): 648-654. Retrieved from https://meridian.allenpress.com/jat/article/46/6/648/110749/Incidence-of-Injuries-in-High-School-Softball-and
*Note: Project was not published, but provides a representation of my writing ability.