The Overhead Athlete: A Comprehensive Treatment Approach

Course Description

Overhead athletes of all ages are capable of accelerating their upper extremity to speeds that routinely exceed 7000 degrees/second.  The role of and interaction between the joints, tissues, and segments involved in this process is very complex, but often results in injuries to the shoulder and elbow.         

This course will examine common areas of dysfunction in the overhead athlete in the context of an understandable biomechanical framework that addresses the entire kinetic chain.  Treatment approaches will emerge from an enhanced understanding of this framework and will be discussed in terms manual techniques and appropriate treatment progression.  Clarification and reinforcement of course objectives will be provided through 50% lecture/discussion, visual aids (pictures/video), case examples, demonstration, and lab. 

Overhead Athlete Schedule

Course Objectives

At the completion of this course, participants will be able to:

  • Recognize 3 biomechanical characteristics that contribute to increased injury risk in the arm of the overhead athlete.
  • Given a mechanical fault in the performance of the overhead sports movement, provide 2 biomechanical contributors to the mechanical fault. 
  • Recognize 3 sociocultural factors that contribute to the development of chronic/overuse injuries in the overhead athlete
  • Identify 3 postural characteristics common in the presentation of the overhead athlete.
  • Given a specific joint/tissue dysfunction, provide 2 biomechanical contributors and 2 biomechanical consequences for the respective sport. 
  • Define the role of 3 different core muscles in the transfer of energy from the lower extremity to the upper extremity.
  • Define the role of 3 different scapular muscles in the transfer of energy from the trunk to the arm.
  • Correctly identify and perform mobilization/release of 3 scapular muscles.
  • Correctly identify and perform mobilization/release of 3 trunk and/or hip muscles.
  • Properly execute a functional strength assessment of upper extremity, lower extremity and trunk.
  • Identify a dysfunctional movement pattern during functional movement assessment.
  • Develop 2 motor retraining exercises that addresses dysfunctional movements identified during your movement/manual assessment.
  • Develop 2 dynamic exercises that would reinforce motor retraining

Course Instructors

Nathan Whitney

PT, DPT, OCS


Nate graduated with a doctorate in physical therapy from the University of Illinois-Chicago in 2010 and became a certified specialist in orthopedics (OCS) in 2016. He has worked in the outpatient setting for the past 6 years with ATI physical therapy with an informal specialization in overhead athletes and is a consulting physical therapist for the Chicago Cubs as of the 2016 season. Prior to his career as a physical therapist, he was a 2-time All-Missouri Conference centerfielder for the Illinois State Redbirds in 2003 and 2004. He then signed as a free agent with the San Diego Padres organization and played minor league baseball before retiring in 2006. Nate prioritizes the application of evidence in his physical therapy practice and also enjoys working with high school and junior college baseball programs on injury awareness and prevention.

Nathan Whitney

Course Outline

Saturday


7:30am

Continental Breakfast

8:00am

Lecture: Introduction, normal and abnormal biomechanics of the throwing motion, common dysfunctions in overhead athletes, regional interdependence, mobilizations, MFR

10:15am

Lecture: non-throwing overhead sport considerations, treatment progression, functional assessment of the trunk, hips, and scapula, anatomy review

12:00pm

Lunch (on your own)

1:00pm

Lab: MFR and mobilizations for the trunk and hips

3:15pm

Lab: Motor retraining exercises for the trunk and hips

4:00pm

Lab: MFR and mobilizations for the cervical/thoracic spine

5:00pm

Lab: Review of Evidence-Based Literature

5:30pm

Adjourn

Sunday


7:30am

Continental Breakfast

8:00am

Review and discussion of considerations for youth sports

8:30am

Lab: MFR and mobilizations for the upper quarter

10:15am

Lab: Motor retraining exercises for the upper quarter

11:00am

Lab: Functional assessment of the scapula

12:00pm

Lunch (on your own)

1:00pm

Lab: Dynamic exercises for the upper extremity and scapula

2:00pm

Lab: Dynamic exercises for the trunk and hips

3:00pm

Lab: Functional assessment of the trunk and hips

4:00pm

Lab: Case Study and Speed mobilization review

4:30pm

Lab: Review of Evidence-Based Literature

5:00pm

Adjourn