If you’re reading this article looking for answers on how to eliminate pitching injuries, you’re in luck! Here it is…..never throw a baseball.
The truth is, no matter how good your programming is, there is always risk associated with throwing a baseball. If you’re not willing to retire right now, the best we can do is to reduce the risk of injuries by taking a holistic approach to programming for pitchers.
As someone deeply immersed in the baseball community, I often hear people talk about what is leading to arm injuries. The list is endless; higher velocity, strength issues, plyometrics, workload management, it goes on and on. Everyone has a theory about the increase in arm injuries over the past few years and in all honesty, there is probably elements of truth in all of them! Having worked with pitchers at many levels (college and professional) I’ve come to believe that there are several factors leading to arm injuries and that it is the understanding of these factors that will allow us to combat or at least reduce injuries. By better understanding these factors, we are better able to program a pitcher’s schedule across the year to mitigate risk.
When taking a deep dive into how to correctly program for a pitcher we need to consider every factor – and there are a multitude! Let me highlight some of the most critical:
Movement: Do you have mobility, flexibility or movement limitations that need to be addressed?
Strength & Conditioning: Are you physically capable of handling the workload or the velocity you are throwing at?
Throwing program: Have you built up your overall workload to handle your throwing and pitching workload? Does your throwing workload align to what you are programming for (e.g. don’t try and ramp up for a game in 7 days)?
Running/conditioning: Are you putting yourself in best position to be at your peak on game day? Is your conditioning programmed correctly with your lift and throwing workload?
Recovery: Do you have built in recovery days in your programming, allowing your body to recover (optimal sleep, nutrition, and hydration)?
Arm Care: Pre and post arm care as part of your daily routine.
Your Delivery (mechanics): Is there something in your delivery that may be putting you at risk (could be due to movement issue, strength and conditioning - these all work together)?
Diet/Nutrition: Is your body fueled correctly (eating correctly for both fueling and recovery)?
Hydration: Like above, is your body hydrated during your workdays and for recovery?
Stress: An area commonly left out - stress at home or during your daily life away from baseball can also be a factor leading to injury.
What do I mean by taking a holistic approach and what does that look like?
A holistic approach means looking at all the factors that could increase risk of injury and considering risk reduction strategies when putting daily programming together. Daily programming must also consider lifestyle to ensure injury prevention and optimal outputs – there is no point having a great strength and conditioning program and a good throwing program if you’re going home and eating fast food, playing video games all night, and sleeping 4 hours. Obviously, kids need to be kids and I am not one to begrudge a burger and a stint behind the console! Just be smart about your balancing.
How do I assess myself and how do I program this into my daily/weekly routine?
Get a movement screen – allows you to identify movement issues and develop a plan to correct them.
Are your strength and conditioning, throwing, plyometrics, bullpens and game days scheduled into a daily/weekly schedule to allow for high intent, medium intent and low intent/recovery days?
Talk to a nutritionist and put a plan together that meets your goals
Consider your sleep habits – are you getting enough sleep to recover?
Assess your delivery (or seek expertise to help) to ensure its functional
The good news is that you’re reading this on a site geared towards assisting young pitchers optimize their talents and performance! While we may not have all the answers and certainly can’t guarantee you an injury free career, we can provide you with the expertise required to build your own holistic approach.
Feel free to reach out, its elite insights for everyone.