Do a Better Throwers Ten
If you are a baseball player that has ever dealt with an arm injury or googled “arm injury prevention”, you have probably seen or heard of the Throwers 10 exercises. These exercises are commonly prescribed as part of arm injury rehab protocols following Tommy John surgery or SLAP repairs. They are also frequently used as a warm up routine prior to throwing.
History of the Throwers 10
So where did the Throwers 10 start? Kevin Wilke is a famous physical therapist that works with renowned orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews (who is widely regarded for his volume of high profile Tommy John surgeries). Kevin has done more to advance the physical therapy profession in the baseball world than perhaps any other physical therapist in history. He speaks nationally at conferences, performs research and still actively treats high level athletes.
Kevin Wilke and Dr. James Andrews developed the Throwers 10 program many years ago using EMG research to address arm strength and fatigue in baseball players to try and reduce arm injuries in baseball. The program has been continually updated over the years to stay relevant. If you have recently downloaded a Throwers 10 program, you’ll notice it is now up to 17 exercises!
The program was also designed for throwing athletes of all levels, using minimal equipment. All you need is a light resistance band and/or light dumbbell to complete the program.
Is the Throwers 10 still relevant?
Yes, many of the exercises should still be included in any thrower’s program, and it is a great starting point, especially for younger athletes as it is easy to complete with minimal equipment.
But, there are a few issues with the program, especially for more advanced throwers.
The primary concern with the Throwers 10 is that it primarily uses light resistance with higher repetitions. While this may help with endurance, it is not ideal for long term strength development of the shoulder musculature.
Additionally, all of the exercises work at primarily slow and controlled speeds. The pitching motion is the fastest human motion ever recorded, and the shoulder rotates at over 12,000 degrees per second. Baseball players need to incorporate some exercises at higher speeds to really prepare the arm for the stress of throwing at higher velocities.
Finally, the Throwers 10 does not account for unique differences between pitchers. It is a generic program with no adjustments.
So, the original Throwers 10 series is still a great starting point, but overtime, we recommend adjusting your arm care routine and exercises.
Is Throwers 10 the best arm care routine?
There is no cookie-cutter arm care routine that will be right for everyone. Some players tend to get tight through their lat and the back of their shoulder. These players need an increased focus on maintaining mobility in their routine.
Other players lose shoulder strength throughout the season, and then end up with excess mobility. These players need to focus more on strength maintenance and stabilizing their available range of motion.
We steal our arm care philosophy from Mike Reinold, a former physical therapist with the Boston Red Sox and current owner of Champion Performance Physical Therapy. He says, “We want you to be you every time you pick up a ball.” So, we individualize every player’s arm care routine based on how their arm responds to their throwing program and routine.
An Updated Throwers 10 Program
Have you tried the Throwers 10 and are looking for a progression? These are 10 exercises that you could try incorporating into your routine.
- Eccentric 90/90 External Rotation
- Serratus Wall Walks
- Two Arm Eccentric Band T
- Push Up to Down Dog
- Kneeling Lateral Plank External Rotation Ball Flips
- Prone T Ball Drops
- Reverse Bear Crawls
- External Rotation Band Oscillations
- Kettlebell Bottoms Up Waiters Walk
- Band Forearm Flexion Rotation
1. Eccentric 90/90 External rotation:
The primary function of your rotator cuff during throwing is to keep the ball centered on the socket and help decelerate your arm as you come through your throwing motion. Focusing on only the eccentric (lowering) part of this exercise will let you go heavier with good technique and help build more strength.
2. Serratus Wall Walks
The serratus muscle is a key muscle that supports your shoulder blade. It helps get your shoulder blade in a good position to create a stable base for your arm to rotate and move around. This is a real burner! Even professional pitchers are only able to get 6 high quality reps.
3. Two Arm Eccentric Band T
This is another exercise that allows you to work on building strength in the back of your shoulder and the muscles surrounding your shoulder blades. This helps you control deceleration of your arm.
4. Push Up to Down Dog
A low hanging fruit for many youth pitchers is being able to perform a great push up. The push up is a great movement for core control, shoulder stability, and it helps build that all-important serratus muscle with proper technique. Adding the down dog movement after a push up will help with maintaining overhead shoulder motion and add extra work for the serratus.
5. Kneeling Lateral Plank External Rotation Ball Flips
As I mentioned above, the shoulder muscles have to work quickly in the throwing motion! Adding this ball flip exercise works on the muscles in the back of your shoulder and gets them firing rapidly! Additionally, this exercise helps build core strength, rotational control, and stability in the arm that is on the ground, so make sure you do these on both sides!
6. Prone T Ball Drops
This exercise is another great way to work on endurance and speed of firing in the back of the shoulder.
7. Reverse Bear Crawls
Crawling patterns are some of our favorites for shoulder stability, core stability, maintaining rib cage mobility, and overhead motion. These are all key elements to overall arm health and a great exercise (when done correctly!) that requires no equipment!
8. External Rotation Band Oscillations
While this exercise may look (and sound) funny, it is very helpful for throwers! It works on the shoulder muscle’s ability to quickly contract and relax. This is similar to the demands of the throwing motion at layback, where the arm has to relax into layback and then quickly fire to accelerate.
9. Kettlebell Bottoms Up Waiters Walk
This is an exercise that will help challenge the grip and the shoulder’s ability to stabilize. If done correctly, you should feel it working in the back of the shoulder and shoulder blade area, not the front of the shoulder.
10. Band Forearm Flexion Rotation
Working the forearm during periods of heavy throwing is always challenging. We want to maintain forearm strength without overdoing it and causing fatigue that could leave a player at risk of injury. This is an exercise that targets the specific muscles that support the inside of the elbow and help protect the UCL.
Try the Advanced Throwers Ten for yourself!
These 10 exercises above are our take on an “updated” Thrower’s 10 to give more advanced throwers a more appropriate set of arm care exercises.
At Kinetic Sports Medicine and Performance, we specialize in treating athletes, and specifically we specialize in treating baseball players. If you are looking for a tailored arm care routine for your specific needs that goes beyond a generalized Throwers 10 (or even our updated version), we would love to help! We can help identify areas of weakness and build a program for you to fill in those areas of deficits and build on your areas of strength. See us for a free consultation, or contact us for more information today!