Proper arm care is a must for baseball players and, specifically, pitchers. If you are not doing anything in the off season to prepare your shoulder for the rigors of the season, you are doing yourself a disservice. Let’s break the preparation for baseball season into 3 phases.
Phase 1: Prepare your whole body. Oftentimes throwers have limitations in mobility that they don’t know exist. This happens frequently in adolescents because they are spending a lot of time in bad positions (slumping) during the offseason and very little time stretching.
This position is basically the total opposite of what a thrower needs.
Throwers need to make sure that their neck rotation and neck retraction motions are good.
Next they need to make sure thoracic rotation is available and equal to the other side.
The last thing that will have to be done during this period is arm care. That means ensuring flexibility is good in all directions followed by the throwers ten program. A throwers ten program is a strengthening program designed to improve general strength around the shoulder. Along with this program I think it is important to ensure that the posterior (back) of the shoulder is really strengthened. Here are some of the stretches that need to be done followed by a link to a video showing the throwers ten program.
Throwers Ten Program
Note: Prior to entering Phase 2, players should have a minimum of 4-6 weeks without throwing.
Phase 2: Long Toss
Positional players as well as pitchers should be doing long toss. This allows the shoulder and arm to get used to the stresses of throwing. You want to increase the distance as you go through the program. Long toss should be happening 3 times per week. This is a good time to add in the foam roller for the back and shoulder to decrease tightness and soreness. Keep in mind that the program that was started in phase 1 should be continued for flexibility and continued strengthening.
Phase 3: Bullpens
Bullpens and long toss can be done on the same days. I would recommend building up to 2 bullpens a week with the maximum time in between to rest the shoulder. The bullpens can be done on the same day as the long toss as this allows pitchers to warm up the arm before throwing from the mound. Early on the bullpens focus on mechanics and hitting spots. Once a throwing base is established after a couple of weeks the pitcher can then begin to focus on velocity.
Important note: Pitching and throwing should not be painful and players should not be throwing through the pain. This is another reason to start the arm care process early before spring so you can ensure that the arm is healthy and ready for the long spring and summer to come.
If you have any questions feel free to contact John Oxley PT, DPT, OCS. Call/text at 804-938-9383, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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