Why is it that, despite your dedication to stretching, you still feel tight and sore? If you follow our stretching prescription: 90 seconds, twice a day, for two weeks, and you STILL don’t feel like you’re making progress, you’re not alone. Fixing movement is a layered puzzle and we have to take it one layer at at time. Stretching addresses the mobility layer but often isn’t the root problem.
At the heart of every mobility or movement issue, even pain, lies a hidden strength problem. It might be a big muscle that doesn’t activate at the right time, or a tiny muscle that is trying to do all the work.
The good news? You can find and fix this strength problem yourself.
If you run funny, throw awkwardly, or struggle to get your swing technique right, there’s likely a strength problem lurking underneath. You’ve tried stretching to loosen up your tightness and stiffness but it doesn’t seem to help. If you’re in that camp, it’s time to locate the root strength issue.
If stretching doesn’t provide the fix, it’s time to focus on strength. Not just general strength, but targeted strength. The goal is to locate the area of weakness that’s causing the pain.
Here’s how it works:
Start with a detailed self-assessment. Check specific muscles, compare side-to-side, you’re looking for any variation in strength or mobility. Isolate these areas and concentrate your training there. Be patient, it takes 6–8 weeks to realize true strength gains. You’re not going to see results overnight.
Here are a few tips to help identify potential weaknesses:
Here’s few exercise ideas to get you started:
Pay attention to see if one leg is weaker than the other. Also notice where you feel the exercise: you should feel it in your glutes and quads.
Single-leg glute bridge
Is there a difference from side to side? Do you feel the exercise in your glutes?
We see a lot of athletes struggle here. Do you feel the exercise more in your core, or in your back? A weak or inactive core is often a source for other softball-related issues.
Why does strength matter in softball?
Softball is a rotational power sport. Everything we do on the field requires explosive strength. It’s essential not only for hitting, pitching, throwing, and running but also for injury prevention. The stronger you are, the less likely you are to succumb to common softball injuries in your shoulders, back, and knees.
How long does it take to see strength improvements?
You should notice changes in 6–8 weeks, assuming you’re consistent in your strength training regimen.
Reagan came to us after struggling with shoulder pain. As an outfielder, this pain would seriously limit her on the softball field causing her to miss throws or come up short. Some days the pain was so bad that she had to sit out. No matter how much she stretched her shoulder, or rested, the problem wouldn’t go away.
We measured Reagan’s shoulder mobility and found that she had limited internal rotation, and excess external rotation (very common in softball players), which put her shoulder in a compromised position for every throw and caused the pain.
It looked like a mobility issue, but it’s actually a strength issue. Reagan’s scapula had been slowly moving upward from all the repetitive throwing motions. She didn’t need stretching, she needed to strengthen the muscles that would pull her scapula back into the right spot.
When she began a targeted strength training program focused on scapula positioning, her pain started to improve significantly. Over a period of two months, Reagan’s shoulder pain decreased, her throwing technique improved, and she was back to making big plays on the softball field.
Pain is fixable. Don't just play through it. Fixing your movement is so powerful because it resolves pain and increases your athletic ability at the same time. If you know something isn't right, start with stretching. If that doesn't fix it, move on to the targeted strengthening described here.
If you still aren't sure where to start, use our free Softball Movement Screen. It takes you through the 5 critical movements that every softball player should be able to do easily. Athletes that come to me with season-ending injuries always have an issue that shows up in this screen– and you can fix them yourself before they become a bigger problem.