THE OVERHEAD ATHLETE

A smarter, scientific way to recover from overhead sports injuries

An overhead athlete is someone who participates in a sport that requires overhead motions, such as pitching baseballs, throwing softballs, spiking volleyballs, serving tennis balls, swinging golf clubs, passing footballs, and launching javelins. During each of these activities, the arm must reach a unique position and then accelerate rapidly through a precise path. Not only must the arm coordinate its movement, but the forces from the feet through the core and pelvis must be transmitted through the hand in a seamless sequence. This intricate but explosive movement puts overhead athletes at risk of injury.

Baseball pitch. Overhead athlete

The shoulder’s bony anatomy is designed to allow for the great amount of mobility it needs to work properly. A “ball-and-socket” joint that sits much like a golf ball on a tee — with mismatch in size. Significant muscle motor control and strength are necessary to keep your shoulders functional and pain-free throughout overhead motions.

Shoulder Bony Anatomy

(Image source: CLICK HERE)

The glenohumeral joint connects your upper arm bone (humerus) to your shoulder blade (scapula). The scapula moves on your rib cage to provide a stable foundation for arm movements. The acromioclavicular (AC) joint is where your collar bone (clavicle) meets your scapula. There is also a sternoclavicular (SC) joint where your collar bone articulates with your breast bone (sternum).

Efficient performance relies on appropriate coordination between these joints. Just as importantly, the arm’s mechanics are heavily influenced by the forces transmitted from the point your foot leaves or hits the ground in a throw, all the way until the ball or object is released. You need enough balance, hip range of motion, core control, and thoracic spine rotation in order to set the arm up for success. Putting all of these pieces together allows for a fast and accurate movement.

What happens when your body gets in the way of playing your sport?

  • Shoulder and elbow pain
  • Neck and low back pain
  • Loss of throwing velocity
  • Loss of pitch accuracy
  • Rotator cuff weakness
  • Thoracic stiffness
  • Core and hip weakness

While these symptoms are common with overhead sports, they are not normal and should be addressed by a qualified healthcare provider.

If this sounds like you, click here to find an Activcore location to get help now.

 

 

A Neuromuscular Focus

Most overhead athletes develop pain or sustain an injury at their shoulder and elbow, but that doesn’t mean the problem starts or ends there. For many athletes, the underlying cause of arm injury is a lack of coordination and control of movement of the structures closer to the body, including the shoulder blade, spine, pelvis and hips.

The ability to properly sequence how all of these pieces work together as a unit is called neuromuscular control. Many physical events (sports injuries, orthopedic surgeries, changes in the body as a young athlete grows, etc.) can disrupt your neuromuscular system. Over time, the brain loses its capacity to switch on the right muscles, at the right time, with the right amount of strength. A process known as neuromuscular de-activation.

As you lose muscle control, there's a tendency for the body to put abnormal stress on your joints in an attempt to maintain the same level of activity. This can often lead to a vicious cycle of pain, weakness and dysfunction.

 

Physical Therapy for the Overhead Athlete

How can Activcore help?

Working with overhead athletes is typically not a big part of a physical therapist’s education. It is a specialization requiring much further study, training and practice following graduation.

Activcore physical therapists are uniquely qualified to assess and treat overhead athletes. At every session, you will receive 55 minutes of undivided attention from a physical therapist specializing in overhead injuries. This one-on-one approach allows your physical therapist to complete a comprehensive assessment, develop an individualized treatment plan, and get the most out of you at every visit for the fastest results possible.

The assessment involves your whole body to identify not only the site of injury, but the true source of your pain, weakness and dysfunction. Addressing the underlying cause is absolutely essential for healing an injury, preventing recurrence, and keeping you healthy and at a peak level of performance.

Overhead athlete. volleyball spike

Activcore physical therapists are specially trained to know how to optimize the mind-muscle connection so that you can regain control of overhead motions for your sport and everyday life. A process known as neuromuscular activation.

They are experts in application of the Redcord suspension system, the preeminent tool for delivering neuromuscular activation. Each treatment consists of a series of tailored exercises intelligently designed to help you develop a smarter, balanced body. They integrate Redcord with other progressive methods — like manual therapy, postural restoration, and resistance training exercises — to get you back on the field as quickly and as safely as possible.

Once your pain has been addressed, you will have the opportunity to continue honing your movement through performance training at Activcore. Your therapist will communicate with a highly credentialed performance specialist about your specific injury and plan of care. Together, they will determine how to most effectively progress your routine for optimal motor control, strength, speed and agility.

You will feel the Activcore difference from your first visit. A highly personalized experience applying the latest breakthrough techniques in the treatment and training of overhead athletes — delivered by a passionate team of movement experts fully dedicated to getting you back to the sport you love to play.

Neuromuscular Activation is like flipping on a light switch to muscles that have gone dim due to injury, pain and inactivity. Utilizing the Redcord suspension system, your provider will take you through exercises that demand total body awareness and precise muscle control. There are slings and bungee cords to assist you with each movement. Similar to floating in water, this creates a weightless and painless environment where you can safely develop strength, stability and optimal neuromuscular control, regardless of your age or physical condition.

 

SWIPE TO SEE MORE METHODS >>

 

 

Neuromuscular Activation

Postural Muscle Retraining consists of specialized stabilization exercises, breathing techniques, and verbal and tactile cues to help you strengthen and regain control of your pelvis, hips and core — and up to your shoulders and neck. An emphasis is placed on restoring mobility and stability of your thoracic spine, a common area of tightness and dysfunction.

 

Postural Muscle Retraining

Trigger Point Dry Needling (TPDN) involves placing a very thin needle into muscles at their trigger point. This is an area where the muscle is tight and often tender. The intent is to contract and then release the muscle, improving overall flexibility and decreasing pain. TPDN can be a valuable treatment for enhancing neuromuscular performance by modulating myofascial pain and spasms, and preparing the body for exercise and activity.

Dry Needling

Manual Therapy is skilled hands-on movements and manipulations of your joints and soft tissues intended to release myofascial trigger points, modulate pain, induce relaxation, improve range of motion, and reduce swelling and inflammation. Oftentimes, manual therapy can help prepare your body for more active interventions like exercise and strength training. Some examples of manual therapy include:

 

  •  Myofascial release

  •  Joint mobilizations

  •  Spinal manipulations

  •  Manual traction

  •  Stretch therapy

  •  Craniosacral therapy

  •  Lymphatic drainage massage

Manual Therapy

Strength training is essential for optimal long term health and performance. At Activcore, our physical therapists and performance specialists have a strong understanding of how to appropriately modify, regress, and progress exercises based on you and your specific condition. They apply functional exercises with use of kettlebells, barbells, conditioning ropes and other training tools — modified or scaled into many different variations or positions to achieve the goal of building strength and muscle control for better fitness and function.

Strength Training

Pilates can help optimize your performance through exercises that support the natural curves of your spine while balancing muscular strength with flexibility. Activcore offers Pilates private sessions, semi-private sessions, and small group classes. Our performance specialists are all trained and certified in Pilates and thoroughly engaged in your success. Depending on your needs, we may implement the following Pilates apparatus:

 

  •  Reformer

  •  Trapeze

  •  Barrel

  •  Tower

  •  Wundachair

Pilates Apparatus

Functional Movement Assessment is a total body approach, with the primary goal to identify which portion of a functional movement pattern is restricting how you move for your sport and everyday life. We move in patterns, not in individual segments. The whole is only as good as the sum of all its parts. A functional movement assessment looks beyond local impairments, because it is more important to understand how this local impairment can influence your global functional movement patterns, like throwing a softball, swimming freestyle, or spiking a volleyball. 

Functional Movement Assessment

Neuromuscular Activation

Neuromuscular Activation is like flipping on a light switch to muscles that have gone dim due to injury, pain and inactivity. Utilizing the Redcord suspension system, your provider will take you through exercises that demand total body awareness and precise muscle control. There are slings and bungee cords to assist you with each movement. Similar to floating in water, this creates a weightless and painless environment where you can safely develop strength, stability and optimal neuromuscular control, regardless of your age or physical condition.

 

SWIPE TO SEE MORE METHODS >>

 

 

Postural Muscle Retraining

Postural Muscle Retraining consists of specialized stabilization exercises, breathing techniques, and verbal and tactile cues to help you strengthen and regain control of your pelvis, hips and core — and up to your shoulders and neck. An emphasis is placed on restoring mobility and stability of your thoracic spine, a common area of tightness and dysfunction.

 

Dry Needling

Trigger Point Dry Needling (TPDN) involves placing a very thin needle into muscles at their trigger point. This is an area where the muscle is tight and often tender. The intent is to contract and then release the muscle, improving overall flexibility and decreasing pain. TPDN can be a valuable treatment for enhancing neuromuscular performance by modulating myofascial pain and spasms, and preparing the body for exercise and activity.

Manual Therapy

Manual Therapy is skilled hands-on movements and manipulations of your joints and soft tissues intended to release myofascial trigger points, modulate pain, induce relaxation, improve range of motion, and reduce swelling and inflammation. Oftentimes, manual therapy can help prepare your body for more active interventions like exercise and strength training. Some examples of manual therapy include:

 

  •  Myofascial release

  •  Joint mobilizations

  •  Spinal manipulations

  •  Manual traction

  •  Stretch therapy

  •  Craniosacral therapy

  •  Lymphatic drainage massage

Strength Training

Strength training is essential for optimal long term health and performance. At Activcore, our physical therapists and performance specialists have a strong understanding of how to appropriately modify, regress, and progress exercises based on you and your specific condition. They apply functional exercises with use of kettlebells, barbells, conditioning ropes and other training tools — modified or scaled into many different variations or positions to achieve the goal of building strength and muscle control for better fitness and function.

Pilates Apparatus

Pilates can help optimize your performance through exercises that support the natural curves of your spine while balancing muscular strength with flexibility. Activcore offers Pilates private sessions, semi-private sessions, and small group classes. Our performance specialists are all trained and certified in Pilates and thoroughly engaged in your success. Depending on your needs, we may implement the following Pilates apparatus:

 

  •  Reformer

  •  Trapeze

  •  Barrel

  •  Tower

  •  Wundachair

Functional Movement Assessment

Functional Movement Assessment is a total body approach, with the primary goal to identify which portion of a functional movement pattern is restricting how you move for your sport and everyday life. We move in patterns, not in individual segments. The whole is only as good as the sum of all its parts. A functional movement assessment looks beyond local impairments, because it is more important to understand how this local impairment can influence your global functional movement patterns, like throwing a softball, swimming freestyle, or spiking a volleyball. 

COMMON CONDITIONS

  • AC joint repair surgery
  • Arthroscopic surgeries
  • Bicep tendon surgery
  • Biceps tendinitis / tendonitis
  • Cervical spine dysfunction
  • Decreased rotational mobility
  • Elbow instability
  • Epicondylitis
  • Fractures
  • Frozen shoulder
  • Golfers elbow
  • Impingement syndrome
  • Joint sprains
  • Labral tears
  • Labral surgery
  • Lateral epicondylalgia / epicondylitis
  • Ligament injuries
  • Lumbar spine dysfunction
  • Medial epicondylalgia / epicondylitis
  • Muscle strains
  • Neck pain
  • Nerve injuries
  • Postural dysfunction
  • Rotator cuff dysfunction
  • Rotator cuff repair surgery
  • Rotator cuff tears
  • Scapular dyskinesis
  • Shoulder dislocation
  • Shoulder (glenohumeral) instability
  • Shoulder replacement surgery
  • Shoulder subluxation
  • SLAP repair surgery
  • SLAP tears
  • Sports injuries
  • Tendinitis / Tendonitis
  • Tendon injuries
  • Tennis elbow
  • Thoracic spine dysfunction
  • Tommy John surgery
  • Ulnar collateral ligament dysfunction
  • Ulnar tunnel syndrome

5 stars

In this day of specialties and specialists, I didn’t expect Activcore to consider the way my entire body worked.

Diane

 

 

5 stars

Dr. Elizabeth Dalrymple is amazing!! The electronically stimulated dry needling and Redcord suspension therapy really helped improve my range of motion and relieve stiffness from an old rotator cuff injury! The whole staff is both knowledgeable and friendly. I recommend Elizabeth and Activcore to anyone. Thanks again!

Daniel H.

 

 

5 stars

Activcore is unlike anything I have ever experienced. One patient, one provider, one hour – one at a time, every time. If you’re serious about your physical therapy and recovery, this is the only place to go!

Michael

 

 

5 stars

I've only gotten excellent, effective care at Activcore. They have helped me through a long post-surgery rehab with skill and kindness that have been key to my recovery.

Joan

 

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