As temperatures continue to rise and spring kicks off, so does baseball season! If you’re spending more time out on the diamond, keep these safety tips in mind to avoid injury and maintain a strong throwing arm:
• Maintain a consistent warm up routine throughout the season – Full body warm up with dynamic movements and jogging, throwing to distances appropriate for the athlete, and midlevel strengthening with scapular and shoulder isometric, isotonic, and eccentric muscle contractions. Whatever you choose, stick with it!
• Don’t over pitch – Keep your pitch count to a reasonable limit and keep the number of outings per week conservative. Communication with your coaches is essential to keeping this schedule under control.
• Be smart about the types of pitches you use in a game – When thrown appropriately, off-speed pitches do not increase risk of injury at the shoulder or elbow, but they have to be thrown correctly! If thrown incorrectly, it can lead to shoulder and elbow injuries. Talk to your coach or seek the advice of a throwing specialist to learn proper mechanics. Consistency is key!
• Participate in shoulder care exercises – 3 times per week at 12-15 repetitions at 2-3 sets, never on a game day. Shoulder exercises include: light weight dumbbell exercise- lifting the arms to a “Y” , “T”, and “A” shape, never going higher than parallel to the floor and side lying external rotation holds with appropriate dumbbell weight for 5-8 seconds. These exercises improve posterior shoulder and scapular stability.
• Participate in elbow care exercises – 2 times per week, never on a game day. These may include: rice bucket exercises, hammer exercises for pronation and supination of the forearm, or wrist curls. All of these should be preformed with appropriate weight at 12-15 repetitions for 2-3 sets.
• If you feel sore after throwing put ice on it! Direct ice treatment surrounding the shoulder or elbow joints is best for 15 minutes at a time.
It is crucial for baseball players, particularly pitchers, to be mindful of these tips throughout the training and competitive seasons to stay safe, healthy, and playing their best.