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Pitcher throwing the baseball | Caring for Pitcher's Arm

Essential Tips for Year-Round Throwing, Strength Training, Warm-Ups, and Recovery

Pitch Smart Guidelines

Taking care of one's arm is essential in pitching, whether one is just beginning or has years of experience. Lots of questions also arise as to what is the best care for a pitchers arm. Use the questions below to help guide young athletes to maintain arm health and perform at their best.

Is it safe for them to throw year-round?

Kids 14 and under should stop throwing for four months each year, with two to three of those months in a row. Those aged 15-18 should take a break from competitive pitching for four months and from all overhead throwing for two to three months. Young adults 19-22 should rest from competitive pitching for three months each year and take at least four straight weeks off from any overhead throwing.

Should pitchers bench press?

Pitchers should approach bench pressing with caution. While it can be a part of a strength-training regimen, there are alternative exercises that are gentler on the throwing shoulder. Here are some examples:

  • Dumbbell press – they can do it on a bench or even better, on the floor
  • Push-up variations
  • Wall slides for the serratus anterior muscle
  • If they really want to bench press, they shouldn't go all the way down. They can use a towel roll or half foam roll on their chest and keep their upper arms at a 45-degree angle

What should they do to warm up?

  • Roll out their muscles with a foam roller (for their lats and upper back) and a lacrosse ball (for their chest, upper traps, rhomboids, and back of the shoulder)
  • Use a stick to work out their forearms and biceps
  • Do exercises to get their shoulder blades and rotator cuff ready – like using J Bands or doing wall slides
  • Get their whole body moving with dynamic exercises (like skipping, side shuffles, carioca, inchworms, bear crawls, hip flips, and side jumps)
  • Start throwing slowly and build up
  • They SHOULDN'T stretch their shoulder too far back or up, shouldn't do long stretches, and shouldn't wear themselves out

Do they need to ice their arm after throwing?

Ice can help with pain, so they might use it if they're hurt. But they should think twice before icing every time they pitch, especially around the inside of their elbow where there's an important nerve. If they ice, they should do it for 10 minutes, then take a 20-minute break to let the area warm up again before putting ice on for another 10 minutes. Or, they could do "active" recovery like light jogging, rolling out their muscles, or easy throwing.

By prioritizing rest periods, smart exercise choices, proper warm-up routines, and mindful recovery strategies, pitchers of all ages can strive for peak performance while safeguarding their arm health for the long haul. Remember, a balanced approach to training and self-care is key to staying in the game and enjoying it for years to come.

Download the Hurt! App in the case of an unexpected injury on the field.

Chris Gabriel, PT, MPT, OCS, CSCS is a physical therapist with the OrthoCarolina Sports Training Center

This information is provided as an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice. If you are seeking specific orthopedic advice or assistance, please consult with your OrthoCarolina physician or locate one in your area through OrthoCarolina’s website at

This article was originally published on October 16, 2018, and updated on May 23, 2024.

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