How many of you have dealt with a baseball player who has had shoulder pain? And out of those who have did you see a lack of core control, loss of shoulder flexion, or ribcage flair? If you did chances are you also noticed that the lats were very stiff and dysfunctional. It's a common occurrence with baseball players. So why is this? What is the fix?
The lats are a big muscle group that have many functions that influence everything from rotation to flexion. With their insertion via the low back/pelvis they also affect the core function. Often we see a lumbar lordotic posture with overhead posture as a substitution when the lats are unable to control or the core is not stable. This being said, working the core can sometimes fix the lat problem vs just working on the mobility of the lats. Motor control of the core is vital when re-teaching lat control in baseball players (and any athlete). Make sure to look at whether the lats are the problem or the core is when working with patients.
Some thoughts on assessing the lats:
- Is it hypertonic? If it is- why? Hypertonic muscles can present as a shortened OR lengthened muscle.
- Is it truly "short"? - Use the lat muscle length test
- Brian Schwabe, PT, DPT, SCS, CSCS
Board Certified Sports Clinical Specialist in Physical Therapy/Strength & Conditioning Coach/Fitness & Medical Writer
Sports Physical Therapist in Los Angeles, CA