America's Pastime is finally emerging, opening Day for MLB is here, and those young arms are starting to feel the stress of live pitching. Many young baseball players today are playing the sport YEAR ROUND and we are seeing alarming rates of injury at younger and younger ages. The young developing arm truly needs 1-2 months of recovery in the offseason. Many are not getting this necessary rest. If your child is a pitcher and complains of pain that lasts more than 24 hours after pitching, STOP IGNORING IT. This kind of pain is abnormal and can be a silent killer for the young arms. Try these 5 steps to reduce fatigue.
1. Learn a dynamic warm up routine (we have one available) 2. Implement an interval throwing program (we have one available) 3. Teach young athletes to throw at a percentage of their maximum strength during these intervals. (we have the details) 4. Stretch pitcher specific tightness on routine intervals. (we have the details) 5. Do not throw more than two consecutive days at 75% or more intensity.
The old belief of "don't throw breaking balls and you'll be OK" used to hold true. Not any more. The silent killer was not throwing breaking pitches. Now because our children are playing year round, the silent killer is OVERUSE. Off season conditioning is critical for our youth. As mentioned above we have unfortunately driven a belief system that to be competitive and "be the best" we must constantly practice. This is so far from the truth. The reality is that to "be the best" we have to condition our minds to execute patience while giving our bodies the necessary time to recover. Consider these off season sports for an excellent alternative to playing baseball to develop cardiovascular health and improve agility.
Three Sports for Off Season Pitcher Arm Health
Soccer - This is a wonderful complement to baseball. Why? Baseball players, specifically pitchers, need cardiovascular conditioning to improve endurance. The power and speed of our pitches has very little to do with true arm strength but primarily evolves from hip and trunk mobility and strength. Soccer is a beautiful complement for this cardio and agility needed in your pitching form and reaction speeds to field from the mound. So take a break from that year round pitching and jump onto the pitch (soccer field).
Cross Country Running - Another beautiful complement to baseball for cardiovascular conditioning and hip/leg strength. Again, your power during your pitching is generated from your legs and back so give them what they need. With every step you take during your runs keep that ultimate goal in mind....Going to add 5 wins to my win column this year!
Cross Country Mountain Biking - Visit a local bike shop and ask them for information on your areas organized youth mountain biking. If they don't have organized teams then ask them for the names of some people that you can contact to join riding groups. Cyclists love riding in groups so this will be easy to find. Mountain biking is a terrific complement to agility, leg, and back strength needed for pitching. In fact, we have convinced a few collegiate and professional pitchers to ride with us through the years and they became obsessed with the sport.
All three of these sports remove the overhead stress of the pitching motion while taking your cardiovascular conditioning into overdrive. We realize that many young athletes will resist the move away from baseball because today's mindset is to play year round but your body needs recovery and your arm is not designed for repetitive overhead stress. Give it a rest. Don't believe us? Google the incidence of Tommy John and rotator cuff injuries in youth baseball and you will get a glimpse of what we are talking about. Total Physical Therapy would rather see your baseball/softball children in our facility for injury prevention and not for overuse injuries.
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