Probably the last thing in the world most people would think could enhance baseball performance is blowing up a balloon. However, it is something that I have most of my players do before training, hitting or pitching.
It all comes down to one word: Posture. And it all comes from the great ideas and concepts put out by the Postural Restoration Institute.
While this can all be very complicated, I will do my best to simplify it. Essentially, we as humans get stuck in a certain posture because of anatomy and lifestyle. This posture is called a Left AIC pattern. in this posture, our pelvis is shifted to the right while our upper body is shifted to the left. We sit into our right hip, our left ribs flare up, our right shoulder is lowered, and a whole host of other signs. If you have ever been to a baseball game and watched an outfielder between pitches this is what he will almost always look like.
This position is marked by numerous overactive muscles and numerous under active muscles, many of which are tied to respiration. We take between 20-25 thousand breaths a day, more than any other movement, and this Left AIC pattern is cemented by poor breathing. While this position in and of itself is not a bad thing, problems can occur when we can't get into the reciprocal (opposite) position. This is where the balloons come into the equation.
As I just stated, we don't breath properly. We take thousands and thousands of breaths and overuse accessory respiratory muscles and under use our diaphragm (the primary muscle of breathing). Breathing into a balloon forces us to breath in a better way to turn off those overused muscles and turn on other muscles to get into a more neutral posture.
There are countless exercises that I use with my players to help them achieve better postures. However, using a balloon forces them to breath properly which is the most important aspect to achieving better posture. Simply taking a few breaths into a balloon can reset the body. After 4-5 proper breaths, tight muscles relax and the body is better aligned.
So, how does this all relate to becoming a better baseball player? If we can get our bodies into better positions, we will be more efficient in our movements. This will allow us to get the most amount of power out of our bodies without putting undue stress on the body.
Stay tuned for more information on PRI drills!