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Almost every parent of a promising young baseball player worries about the arm. Without it, after all, who can play the game? Especially for young pitchers, an innumerable amount of fathers are out there researching ways to strengthen or protect their kid’s throwing arm.
Many of them come across arm braces, some flexible, some made only of stretching fabric, others sort-of resembling high-tech knee braces. Regarding the latter, let’s take a look at the ThrowMAX flexible arm brace for baseball players, in the form of a full review with details.
Human arms are complicated, and were not designed to toss a 5-ounce object over and over and over repeatedly. Trying to strengthen it for baseball play is understandable — but how much, in fact, can it be strengthened? And, at what age should a player start trying to fix the arm motion?
As the product name suggests, the goal is to throw at maximum effect, for the best results possible. This not only means ball velocity, but allowing the human arm to throw as strongly and effortlessly as possible. That’s what the ThrowMAX is designed for.
The brace is supposed to keep the elbow elevated during the throwing motion, at an arm slot of 85 to 90 degrees. This means the angle between the upper-arm (featuring the big humerus bone, the bicep and tricep muscles), and the (lower) forearm.
This prevents young pitchers from getting used to three-quarters or even sidearm deliveries, or worse, throwing with the upper and lower arms too close together (e.g. lower than 85-degree angle). Perhaps most importantly, it gets them in the habit of throwing with the same motion consistently.
Inconsistent arm slots makes it more difficult to control throws. Also, throwing overhand is assumed to be most healthy for the arm components — as opposed to tossing sidearm — to prevent injury long-term.
How ThrowMAX Delivers
The manufacturer says it “provides instant feedback.” This doesn’t mean the brace talks to the player; it means the thrower will notice pressure, that something’s not quite right with the fit, if the arm action is wrong.
Something on the brace is fighting against the arm movement in some way — which is not how the arm is supposed to be moving according to the ThrowMAX engineers. The pressure felt is a message to raise the arm through the throwing motion.
The whole concept is to create proper muscle memory, over time. It is supposed to help commonly known poor habits suspected of creating injury such as: wrapping the hand holding the ball behind the head; throwing behind the ear (for catchers); or infielders dropping the elbow below the shoulder.
All of this is intended to reduce stress on the elbow overall, as well as the shoulder, and ligaments throughout each. Anything that can promote a more relaxed, fluid, and comfortable throwing motion can be considered potentially beneficial — especially if a kid’s throwing motion is just plain ugly early on.
Using the ThrowMAX
After sizing the product (see suggested sizes per height below), the ThrowMAX simply gets slipped over the elbow in preparation for throwing. Follow the directions that come with it to properly align the 3 flexible polycarbonate bars that supply resistance for the instant feedback; then Velcro down the 2 straps at either end to keep it in place around the elbow.
Then just play baseball. The player needs to be aware of where the product seems to be pressuring an elbow spot a lot — this is the “feedback” that the manufacturer touts. Basically, if a player is twisting the arm or otherwise not keeping the elbow at a 90-degree angle, he (or she) will feel squeezing or discomfort.
The product needs to be worn while repeating normal throws, whether from pitching or on defense (particularly outfielders who have throwing actions more similar with pitching, compared with the short-armed, quicker style for infielders).
ThrowMAX Product Features
The ThrowMAX is available in 4 sizes for either the right or left arm: X Small for 4’6″ and shorter; Less Small for up to 5’2″; Medium is 5’3″ to 5’8″; and Large for 5’9″ and taller.
It is 1.6 oz in weight, and it’s farthest points measure a maximum of 7 inches.
- It’s a throwing training aid — not a strengthener, nor a magical injury-avoidance tool. It simply lets players learn by feeling how proper throws should feel, and help develop muscle memory through repetition.
- Many more positive user reviews than negative; there are many dads happy with the ThrowMAX.
- Certain benefits have been verified by at least 1 former MLB pitcher.
- Product has been around since 2006, indicating longevity.
- The manufacturer notes usage by players ranging from youths up to the Division I college level.
- Relatively small (7 inches long) and lightweight (1.6 oz.).
- Money-back guarantee.
- Seems a limited amount of true medical opinions about the use of joint support sleeves or wraps, in terms of arm development or potential future impacts.
- Still some naysayers, about this and pretty much every elbow-protection product; the final verdict might not be known for years.
- No minimum age level suggested (See below; we suggest not for players age 8 or younger).
From our years of experience playing and being around baseball, there is little wrong with some sort of support on any of the joints during baseball play. For the most part it is avoided because it could negatively impact game performance, maybe by limiting body part movement, or due to weight. But baseball is a game very hard on the joints, so it’s hard to discount use of these types of braces or wraps.
That said, the ThrowMAX could be helpful for a baseball player in several ways. Perhaps most noteworthy is commentary by former MLB star reliever Mike Marshall, on his Q&A web page: “… it does alert pitchers to their elbow angle. Pitchers and throwers in general should not permit the angle between their forearm and upper arm to decrease below ninety degrees. This device helps.”
While some body-growth experts warn against trying to mold a throwing arm at too young an age, the general consensus is that the ThrowMAX is a “useful tool.” What it is not is a cure-all for bad habits or poor mechanics. Fixing improper throwing motions is up to the individual player, and perhaps coaches assisting, and should not be dependent upon a single product.