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By Beth Kaszuba

Some people’s big-league dreams are played out in packed stadiums. The rest of us might just shine on the local tennis court, softball field — or behind a push mower in a lovingly maintained backyard.

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRider player at bat.

For us weekend warriors, warmups and stretches are crucial to staying safe. So, we asked Geisinger physical therapist Brandon Tunis, who works with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders players, to share a few moves.

 
Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders Logo.

Supporting big league dreams:

Geisinger is the official sports medicine provider for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, Triple-A affiliate of the New York Yankees.

Rather watch than play sports? The RailRiders are playing all summer long.

1. Chest stretch

Performing a chest stretch.

This exercise targets tight pectoral muscles in athletes who repeatedly throw, like pitchers. “Weekend warriors can get similar tightness from sitting at our computers or being on our cell phones,” Mr. Tunis notes, adding that the stretch is also good after activities like gardening or weeding that cause us to hunch over.

  • Stand facing into a corner, elbows bent into an L at shoulder height, forearms flat against each wall.
  • Move in toward the corner, feeling a stretch in the front of your chest.

2. Wrist flexor stretch

Performing a wrist flexor stretch.

Mr. Tunis says pitchers often deal with tight forearm muscles — and the same can be true for amateur athletes, like golfers. This exercise stretches the muscles that attach near the “funny bone.”

  • Hold your arm out straight, palm up, wrist extended
  • Keeping your elbow straight, use your other hand to pull your extended hand down, feeling for a stretch in your wrist. Repeat on the other arm.

3. Mid-back rotation

Performing a mid-back rotation.

“Tightness in the mid-back can lead to neck pain and shoulder inflammation,” Mr. Tunis says, explaining that this exercise helps pitchers avoid injuries related to throwing motions.

  • Get down on all fours.
  • Put one hand behind your head.
  • Rotate through your upper back, looking over your shoulder.
  • Return to starting position and repeat on the other side.

4. Shoulder circles

Performing shoulder circles.

Before any activity that has repetitive arm movements, whether it’s firing fastballs or sudsing up your pickup truck, warming up the shoulders is key. “Engaging the dynamic shoulder stabilizers such as the rotator cuff improve the stability of your shoulder and scapula,” says Mr. Tunis.

  • Fold a small towel into a square about the size of your hand.
  • Stand with good posture facing a wall. Hold the towel against the wall at shoulder height with your hand flat and your arm straight.
  • Make small circles with the towel, clockwise and then counterclockwise. Repeat with the other arm.

5. Core stabilizer

Performing core stabilization.

Athletes who use a lot of overhead motion — like baseball players — benefit from strong core muscles to keep them stable as they throw a ball or swing a bat. “Improving core stability can also help the weekend warrior improve low back and leg pain,” says Mr. Tunis.

  • Lie on your back with your arms straight above you and your legs up, knees bent at a 90-degree angle.
  • Keeping your core muscles tight, slowly lower your right heel to barely touch the ground at the same time as you reach overhead with your left arm, stretching it out until it’s parallel to the floor. 
  • Return to starting position and repeat with the opposite arm and leg.

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