Improvements in Shoulder Endurance Following a Baseball-Specific Strengthening Program in High School Baseball Players


BACKGROUND: The posterior shoulder muscles play key roles in maintaining shoulder function in throwing. Arm fatigue has been identified as a risk factor for shoulder and elbow pain in youth baseball pitchers. However, endurance of the posterior shoulder muscles in overhead athletes is not routinely examined or conditioned.

HYPOTHESIS: Upper extremity muscular endurance can be improved in adolescent baseball players during a 20-week preseason training program. Secondarily, strength will be improved. Finally, these improvements will be associated with maintenance of range of motion.

STUDY DESIGN: Cohort study.

METHODS: Fourteen baseball players (age, 16 ± 2 years) attended 3 supervised training sessions per week for 20 weeks. Strengthening of the upper extremity was performed with a specific progression that utilized readily available equipment. Testing was completed at baseline and at 4, 8, and 20 weeks. The posterior shoulder endurance test was performed to assess muscular endurance. Glenohumeral internal and external rotation range of motion and strength were measured.

RESULTS: Posterior shoulder endurance improved from 30 ± 14 repetitions at baseline to 66 ± 26 at 4 weeks and 88 ± 36 at 20 weeks (P < 0.05). Glenohumeral internal rotation range of motion and the glenohumeral internal/external rotation strength ratio remained similar over the course of the program.

CONCLUSION: Implementation of a preseason training program effectively increased shoulder muscular endurance while maintaining strength ratios and range of motion throughout the 20-week program.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE: This program improved a key parameter known to be associated with shoulder function and injury risk. This study describes a simple clinical tool to assess muscular endurance of the posterior shoulder.

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Published in Sports Health, v. 5, no. 3, p. 233-238.

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