I always try to make a habit of asking an athlete where they feel it after performing an arm care exercise. Most athletes know the importance of doing their arm care, but many don’t know the “why” behind the exercises they’re performing or which muscles they are trying to target.
Shoulder pain is usually going to come at the anterior and superior (top & front) part of the shoulder. If an athlete is feeling an exercise in these places they are either doing it wrong, or they’re lacking in scapular upward rotation or cuff strength. Most baseball players have probably heard the term SLAP tear, which means the front and back of the labrum is torn at the top of the shoulder. It should be common sense that we don't want to feel these exercises in this spot.
When performing an arm care drill you’re more than likely trying to hit the posterior cuff, serratus anterior, and or lower trap. These muscles work in conjunction to center the humeral head.
Throwing a baseball is a violent and extremely fast motion. If we keep the ball in the socket we can reduce the likelihood of slowly fraying away at the labrum.
Almost every baseball player has a pair of J-bands in their bag, but if you walk by a local baseball field you’ll probably see some pretty sloppy arm care being done. The shoulder joint is very small and has little room for error. It’s important to take your time and make sure you perform these exercises properly and feel them in the right places.
Shoulder injuries rarely happen from one bad throw or one bad rep. It’s chronic stress from thousands of throws over the course of your career. Your warm up or training program shouldn’t compound on that. A baseball player should take their technique on an external rotation drill just as seriously as they would on a squat or a deadlift.