The Shoulder and its Core Stability
Sports fitness professionals have realized how
critical it is for the inner core of the body,
mainly the joints close to the spine, to be
supported by the postural muscles designed for the
same purpose. For a cricketer's shoulder joint for
instance, the critical areas are the cervical spine
(upper back), lumber-spine (lower back) and the
scapulothoracic joint. If these areas are not
stable, then a significant amount of extra load and
strain will be passed onto the shoulder joint. This
basically means that a cricketer with a weak lower,
middle or upper back can put undue pressure on his
shoulder while bowling or throwing, and in the
process damage his shoulder joint.
The SCAPULOTHORACIC joint is the most relevant
joint for the shoulder, as the GLENOHUMERAL JOINT
is formed by the glenoid cavity of the scapula
(socket) and humerus (ball). The muscles directly
responsible for its stability are TRAPEZIUS (muscle
covering the back of the neck and upper shoulder),
especially its middle and lower fibres acting with
the SERATUS ANTERIOR muscle (muscle covering the
under and inner part of the shoulder), and together
they hold the scapula in a neutral position.
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Whenever you throw or bowl, i.e. move the arm
sideways or take it above the head, the rotator
cuff muscle controls the neutral position. So the
head of the humerus is properly controlled.
It is really amazing that such a high level of
balancing is achieved when we do overhead activity.
It becomes more effective and controlled when the
scapular position is perfect. If the scapula is
angled too far (i.e: a bowler with a round-arm
action moving his arm away from the midline of the
body) puts a lot of pressure on the rotator cuff
muscle and bio-mechanically fails to keep ahead of
the humerus centred. As you improve your scapular
muscle strength, lesser will be the pressure on the
rotator cuff. Therefore it will be able to act more
effectively and independently. So, whenever a
bowler is in the act of moving his arm, he should
be able to hold his scapula quite stable and in a
neutral position. This skill is called GLENOHUMERAL
1. INTERNAL /EXTERNAL ROTATION WITH ARM BY THE
SIDE. Stand. Hold a rolled towel between the elbow
and ribs. Attach one end of an elastic or theraband
to a door-knob and hold the other end in your hand
with elbow bent at 90 degrees. Position the scapula
perfectly. Slowly pull the band across the body at
the same time. Do three sets of ten pulls to the
right. Do three sets of ten pulls to the left.
2. INTERNAL /EXTERNAL ROTATION WITH THE ARM 90
DEGREES AWAY FROM THE BODY. Lie on the back. Attach
one end of theraband to a chair-leg and hold the
other end in your hand with the elbow bent at 90
degrees and resting on the ground. Position the
scapula perfectly. Pull the hand forward until you
cannot pull it anymore (the limit of flexibility)
Slowly release. Do three sets of ten repetitions
each. Then do the same in the opposite direction,
pulling the hand up above the head (Three sets of
ten repetitions each).
3. FACE THE BALL (use a Swiss ball) You should face
a wall. Hold the ball with your right hand facing
the wall at head-height. Step back so that you are
leaning on the ball Position the scapula perfectly.
Create small circles on the wall with outstretched
hand on the ball. Do five sets of ten repetitions
clockwise and then anti-clockwise. Rest & repeat.
Repeat the same with left hand.
4. TENNIS BALL WORKOUT: Squeeze a tennis ball in
the hand. Go through throwing motions slowly while
squeezing the ball. one has to behave as if one is
making an actual throw Set scapula at outset of
throw Slowly release and do an exaggerated
follow-through with the entire body in motion.
Repeat 10 to 20 times. This is an excellent
exercise for co-contraction of rotator cuff
muscles, which will help increase their activity
and control the head of humerus.
5. GENTLE FLICKS Stand with the theraband attached
to the door-knob. Face away from the door. How far
you should stand from the door depends upon how
strong you are. A person on the stronger side can
stand at a distance, while one who is not so strong
can stand closer.
Hold the arm up above the head with band in hand on
tension Allow the arm to drop backwards slightly
from elastic tension Pull forward slightly on the
tension Repeat slowly and gradually increase speed
and tension over the following two or three weeks.
Monitor any shoulder soreness to determine whether
you have gone too far.
ALWAYS CONTINUE WITH GENERAL MUSCLE STRENGTH