Ultimate Frisbee causes an injury that is unheard of in the world of sports medicine. Normally when people get pain over their posterior deltoid muscle it is because it is referral pain from their supraspinatus muscle. I was honestly told by a sports doc, “It is never the posterior deltoid, it is always supraspinatus!”.
Well it is the posterior deltoid in Frisbee players. We use this muscle in our back hand and we all like practicing our back hand huck. So, a 1000 throws later (10 days or less of throwing for a college player) we can easily give ourselves an overuse injury in our posterior deltoid. We Frisbee players have a litany of injuries that go with our sport just like any other sports but the posterior deltoid injury largely goes overlooked because it is so uncommon an injury. Again, if you see something that looks like a rotator cuff injury, why would you think that it isn’t when the person sitting in front of you says they think “throwing” caused the injury. Never mind that you weren’t throwing a baseball.
What can you do?
- Practice with your left arm too. Why you ask? Because any training you do on one side translates into 8%muscle growth on the other side automatically.1 This means that your throwing arm will get stronger and more accurate without as much wear and tear on your dominant arm. Humans are so cool!
- Stretch your pecs (specifically pectoralis major, see picture bellow). Our culture has tight and inflexible pectoralis muscles because we spend so much time hunched over a computer or we go to the gym and do bench lifts but never stretch these muscles out afterward. If the pectoralis muscles are tight it is going to make it even harder for the posterior deltoid to contract as fast and hard as needed for a back hand.
- Strengthen your back’s rotational muscles. Don’t do this without also strengthening your back’s stabilizing muscles. The stabilizing muscles might not do anything for your throw (they probably will), however, they will keep your back from getting injured. If you don’t know how do this, get help from a professional like a PT, a personal trainer, or a chiropractor that also does exercise training.
- Work on your low back flexibility. You need to produce a lot of torsion to get that full field huck; which means you arm is moving around your hips which are the center of your movement. If your back only rotates 20 degrees, where are you getting the rest of your rotation? From your shoulder! I would recommend chiropractic adjustments and yoga to achieve this flexibility. My throws got so much longer and more accurate after I started seeing a chiropractor regularly.