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Ever since reading Jeff Passan’s The Arm, I have been fascinated with trying to understand the epidemic of Little League shoulders & elbows, Labrum (shoulder) tears and of course UCL or Tommy John injuries. There has been research that indicated that over 40% of MLB pitchers with arm issues have had some kind of hip dysfunction. Dr Tommy John Jr (the son of Tommy John, who had the first UCL repair surgery for which it is named) told me that usually within a year of an ankle injury it is very common to see some kind of arm injury.
What if there was some way we could reduce these injuries, and cut down on the stress on the shoulder and the elbow?
This week I spoke to Jason Colleran, a former baseball player, who has over 8 years of experience as Muscle Activation Techniques Specialist and 18 years of experience as a Biomechanics Consultant for Orthopedic Surgeons, Chiropractors and Physical Therapists.
He is the founder of The Kinetic Arm and owner of Elite Edge Sports Performance in Atlanta.
It’s Bryan Eisenberg. I am here with Jason Colleran. He is the founder of Elite Edge Fitness. He’s also a muscle activation technique expert and biomechanics expert. We’ll talk a little bit more about that. But more importantly, I have him here today because he’s developed something that I’ve watched from when he first launched it to where now it’s getting a lot of buzz and I’ve been hearing a lot of great things about it, and I wanted to learn more about the Kinetic Arm. Jason, welcome.
Thank you very much for having me.
I’ve heard about you for a long time and you had a different name. You, changed it. I think much to the better, the kinetic arm. Why does it even exist? I know that you had some of your own injuries as a college athlete, as a baseball player, but why does this even exist as a product?
Arm injuries are, they’re never going to stop. When I was young, I had arm pain from 11 or 12 on, and it didn’t go away until mid twenties. And then with kids with little league elbow and little league shoulder. We got to think growing pains are going to happen. The bones grow at a faster rate than the muscle we gotta produce for, these longer levers things shut down.
Other things tighten up and we get Sievers disease, Osgood-Schlatters. But when we don’t get that ground reaction force because of that pain, that’s when we get the little league shoulder and elbow, because we have to compensate. There’s not an athlete out there. That’s not compensating. So we use that term loosely.
Oh, you don’t want to compensate. Compensation is a good thing until you fix the problem. But so knowing that we can’t get around growing pains, we can’t get around arm injuries at that age. And then as I started consulting here for medical professionals and teaching them about the neuromuscular system and the musculoskeletal system and seeing these kids coming in with these injuries, whereas I was working with traumatic brain injuries and stroke victims.
To talk about motor learning, this is before what people would think of square one and then helping to rehab. So I’ve seen how the surgical outcomes should be. But all that being said, there’s protective gear for the rest of your body. The helmet we’ve got wrist guards, we’ve got this sliding oven mitt, even cleats help you grip the ground and run better.
So why is there nothing for the throwing arm? Okay. I went through MAT and learned all I could about musculoskeletal mechanics. I went through the RTS mastery classes, learn about resistance mechanics and a little bit of physics in there. So pairing internal performance and external performance, why is there nothing to offload stress from the throwing arm?
So whether it be progressing back from an injury, all the return to throw programs, I think most are still from the ESMI from 1980. But even when we’re rehabbing something with our legs, we have crutches or something like that to offload. And then you progress back to where you should be.
So with this, there’s a lot of potential use applications and weighted balls are a big buzz and whether you use them or not, more weight. Yeah. It could potentially be more stressed. So this is a way that we can safely combat the injuries and that growing trend. And again, in my facility, I’ve had a lot of athletes come here after they were injured in popular weighted ball program.
Popular programs where they’re chucking and slamming medicine balls, like they’re working with a dodge ball coach or something. I don’t know. But this is the only thing in sports as a whole, that’s a multi-joint dynamic stabilizers. So essentially we have an adjustable, external muscular system to offload the stress internally because once we’ve exceed that stress threshold internally, we have an injury. And then from there you’re lucky to make it come back or even stay on the field.
Let me step back a second. You mentioned about little league elbow and soreness and one of the things I’ve learned, and again I don’t have a medical experience that you do. And, the treatment of experience that you have, but a lot of, especially younger kids don’t know the difference between sore, tired and pain. Is that correct?
Yeah. And even as a kid I wouldn’t say if, my arm hurt because then you don’t get to play. Even in high school and college.
Exactly. So as parents, how do we worry about these things? How do we make sure that our kids are not going to get hurt? If, they can’t even communicate, whether there’s an issue.
That’s, the tough part, that’s why I feel this should be an imperative piece of safety equipment from a young age, because if we can start to offload force as they’re developing and prevent not only these growing pains, but epiphyseal fractures where the growth plate actually cracks away. There’s really no way to do that. I think if there was, we would’ve gotten that under control, but then if you look at older athletes, we have the same issue. And then you hear that they have arm pain and people say, oh, you need to long toss.
Okay. If the check engine light goes on in your car, do you just drive it faster, longer and thinks that’s going to fix the problem?
You mentioned that it’s supposed to offload stress stress from the shoulder and the elbow. A lot of people are concerned about some like restrictions, whenever you bandage up a part of the body that that’s gonna cause some issues, what is it about the kinetic arm that makes it different so that this is not really an issue for people?
If you’re using a immobilizer, like a cast and then you take it off after all that time and you get the atrophy because there wasn’t stress put through there. So with this sleeve, it’s adjustable and I say it’s a dynamic stabilizer. It’s not a immobilizing anything and we’re not changing the way the body functions, but we know if we look at a length tension curve from muscle strength, mid range, we’re the strongest, end range we’re the weakest.
So that’s where we need to offload. So you’re not going to develop any type of dependence on it because I made a multiaxial theoretical model, which is a fancy way of saying a mannequin with an arm. So we pull it back and then we let it go and the ball just drops. So you still have to exert a great deal of force.
So you still get the adaptations that you want, the thickening of the UCL, get some hypertrophy if we want to go there with throwing you can still build up that chronic workload. This is where we can offload that stress. And again, you still have to throw the ball. It’s not going to jump out of the box spidey suit on your shoulder and start throwing the ball for you.
No bionics yet?
No not, yet. Give it some time. But it’s just like with strength training, we don’t have to use a hundred percent of our max effort to get that hyperthrophy, or that adaptation that we desire, we can dial it down to 60 or 80% and we can still make strength gains.
So it’s the same, concept with the sleep, except with the arm, as it goes back we’ve got the forearm flexors that cross over the UCL and attached to that medial condyle. But when those get tired, stress goes up. So with the sleeve , we can essentially almost add a new line of force and cut that lever in half.
There’s also a compressive element. So there’s several ways where it offloads stress from the rotator cuff, the labrum, and also the medial elbow.
So would you say this is similar to when my son first started going to the weight room, they want to teach him how to squat properly. They set him up with a six pound kettlebell.
But they put a band around over his knees and had him pull those apart. So that kind of gave him the feeling of how to get the muscles and the body into the right positions. Is that sort of what it’s doing?
That sounds a little bit more like a constraint, where it would restrict motion. So the only reason this would restrict motion is if let’s say your arm is tired, your shoulders tired, and your trunk is rotating in your scapula. You should be getting that protraction with your arms left behind. It’s going to be a lot of stress on the labrum. So that slab labrum tears, superior labrum, anterior to posterior.
So this posterior chromium kind of acts as a fulcrum with that humeral head. So essentially it’s causing more stress on the superior anterior shoulder, but what this does, and we’ve heard the former Vanderbilt guys that are playing professionally now and several other pro guys, they say it, it keeps your arm slot locked in.
And we had Farnsworth say that too. He blew his shoulder out, playing football five years later, completely blew out his rotator cuff, labrum, biceps tendon, and he was able to put it on and start throwing and throwing pretty damn hard too. So it was just a way to offload stress in our weakest range, but that’s the only time it would limit you from going into a position is if that position is harmful.
So if the arms coming low and lagging behind it’ll prevent that. And then also if you were way up here where you would get some impingement on that humeral head with the chromium there.
Obviously I’m hearing you talk about what some college guys and some pro guys what’s, the range of athletes that are using the kinetic arm right now.
Oh, so the small size fits down to maybe around 5′ 5″, 110 lbs. We’ve had some incredible stories with these younger athletes. We also had a high school athlete cancel his Tommy John surgery. So they got an MRI. He had some stabbing medial elbow pain didn’t throw off the mound for, I think it was eight to 10 months.
So they get the MRI that comes back in and concludes to, remember doctors don’t get paid to not do surgery. So naturally his parents are going to schedule them. I think it was that following Monday. And this was two days before for Tommy John surgery. So he puts this on, he wears it in a game.
He throws 70 pitches in a game, zero pain, two days after that, 90 pitches in a game, zero pain. And they were able to win. I think it was their regional tournament or championship, but now he’s throwing pain-free even without it. So the fact that we were able to offload stress, get his body reacclimated, to training, being more explosive, so that I can help take more stress off the arm when it is feeling good. And that’s a big win.
I saw you say you can wear it over your Jersey or under your Jersey. When do people wear it? Obviously he wore it during the game, but when, else do you feel that would be the best time for athletes to wear this?
So it depends by the age. For the younger guys, I’d probably have them wear it pretty often. But again, we’re going to lose some ground reaction force from growing pains and they’re going to be tired from running around. So now we’ve got these 10, 11 year olds playing 60, 80 games a year. That was a college schedule back in my day.
So for them probably wearing it I’d say the majority of practice time or in game, if the parents really want to take care of them. At the high school and college level, it’ll start to vary. So we have had plenty of high school and college, even pitchers wear it under their jerseys.
So position players have worn it exposed and it hasn’t been a problem. So they’ll wear it. They’ll definitely wear it while they’re doing their weighted ball or plyo stuff. If they’re doing any kind of a long toss, it’s a great way to offload stress while you’re training the rest of your body to be more explosive for a longer period of time.
So that’s why we’ll see some velocity increases. And then if they’re going like 90, 120, 150, and coming back in, when they take it off, a lot of times you’ll see an increase in velocity. So we do get that carry over effect. And then with the professional guys we had one MLB team some pretty big name, pitchers that were using it last year.
They use it for about the last three, four months now we’ve got it in their spring training. We’ve got a couple more calls coming up with some MLB teams, but we’ve got from like a Garrett Whitlock. He’s got a really long arm action. He likes it for recovery days. Collin McHugh just started wearing it.
Same thing, recovery days. And he’s getting it dialed in, but as they get older and they’re more in tune with their mechanics, they might find they want to use it for warming up and then take it off where they might want to use it for their recovery day. Or if they’re trying to extend bullpen sessions, a lot of times, we’re not seeing enough time for that buildup phase.
Because the coaches have limited time or maybe they just now we’ve got the lockout situation. So hopefully guys are staying in shape, but it can help with that process going from like a 45 to 60 or 65 to 70 pitch pen. And then the way you avoid developing a dependence to it is you just take it off for the last five or 10 throws.
So a lot of potential use applications. And then of course returning from injury or returning from surgery. I’ve personally rehabbed at least a half dozen guys after labrum surgery and several after Tommy John, and we find that they’ll start doing this push motion when they come back because the trauma from that injury.
So when they have it on and they whip their arm back, they feel the external support. And then they’re a lot more confident going into that laid back phase and we can move them along a lot faster and safer on their return to throw program.
I’ve got a friend of mine that trains in the same gym as my son. Who’s going through some of that right now. He rehab went back to throws shoulder was bothering him a little bit. He’s back to rehabbing again, as I always like to say there is a difference between a PT to PT, right? Physical therapists to playing time. And that’s the gap that really got, it has to be worked on, two more questions for you.
Number one looking at it online, it’s hard to tell whether it’s bulky or not bulky, but obviously it’s got some mass to it there are people out there who might be Dane about wearing it, underneath their jersey. Cause it might be too bulky or, even outside of it. Should that really be a concern? How, thin is it? Can you tell that you have it underneath your jersey?
We have guys that were sleeves over it, and then a Jersey, you can’t tell it’s, going to be some extra material. There’s no way around that. There is a little bit of extra material in the front because we don’t want the tension to pick up too soon, but that’s also what gives it the adjustability.
We did have one, one former pro pitcher say I don’t like wearing anything on my elbow. And I said did you like your Tommy John surgery?
There was always that option .
If you want to spend $30,000 in at least six months and potentially not make it come back. And we recently had the young man pass away from complications that are anesthesia from a Tommy John surgery. So if we can prevent that from having to happen, it doesn’t take any longer to put on than lacing up your cleats. So it’s a really, quick way to offload stress. And there was a great abstract on it was with a college, so it showed around 85% of pitching was done outside of games during the fall season for pitchers.
And then during the spring season, it was like 93%. So even if 80 or 90% of that time, you can offload that stress. That’s a huge win. And then for middle infielders if you’ve got to make a lot of game speed throws and practice, it’s a better way to train and work on your technique or get some actual feeling and game speed.
Yeah. And especially in high school, you’ve got a lot of those catchers are also two way players, that sometimes they’ll pitch one day they’re, really putting a lot of load on. Okay. Last question. Cause one of the things I had definitely seen a number of times as I saw my good friend, Colter Bostick put out how, they were using it at Rice and using it with the pitching lab and all that. What kind of data are you seeing from programs that are using it to support that this is something that people should be using to offload that stress?
The biggest thing is that the feel and the feedback from the players really. There’s no piece of technology. Even a wireless EMG would measure how much we can offload shoulder musculature but using in the Driveline pulse or motus sensor.
A guy named Lance Dobbins works at a facility. I think it, might be in Texas. His son’s rehabbing or he’s just had Tommy John surgery. He jumped out with the Red Sox, but he’s finding this offloading stress 20 to 30% consistently with the guys that he’s rehabbing. Then Javi at Ivy tech he’s blown away by the data that he’s getting recently with pro play AI.
I think he’s also using pulse now. And then I think through pitch logic, maybe. And then I also made that multiaxial theoretical model where I can pull back and I can show you what the digital dynamometer how many foot pounds of force we can offload per degree. Personally I’ve, never seen anything in sports, orthopedics, sports training that can actually show that improvement.
Being able to prove that to me is, a big deal because I’ve never seen it done before. Something like motion capture, it’s great that we are getting those readings from it, but keep in mind, that’s just what the sensors are picking up. That’s not including what the actual structure of the sleeve itself is able to offload. Yeah, we’re offloading quite a bit of stress, so we never hear about under-use injuries. So we just hear about overuse injuries. So let’s, cut down on those.
Any final thoughts that you want to get out to the community and let them know where they can find out more about you and the kinetic arm.
Yeah, definitely follow us on social media for updates. We’ve got some great videos to explain a lot of different questions on our YouTube channel and then on the kineticarm.com. And if you have any other questions feel free to shoot them over. And I’d be more than happy to get them answered for you.
Awesome. Thank you so much, Jason.