Common Questions / Controversies in Arm Care for Baseball Athletes
Chris Gabriel, PT, OCS, CSCS
Pitch Smart Guidelines
1. Is it safe to throw year round?
Youth athletes 14 and younger should take four months off from throwing each year, two to three of which should be consecutive. 15-18 year olds should take four months off from competitive pitching and two to three months off from all overhead throwing. 9-22 year olds should take three months off from competitive pitching every year, and at least four continuous weeks off from all overhead throwing.
2. Should pitchers bench press?
Better options exist that create less stress on the throwing shoulder.
- Dumbbell press – on bench or even better as a floor press
- Push up variations
- Wall slide for serratus anterior
- If you must bench go part way down to a towel roll or ½ foam roll on chest, maintain upper arm in a position of 45 degrees
3. What should I do to warm up?
- Soft tissue mobility work- foam roll (lats, thoracic spine), lacrosse ball (pecs, upper trap, rhomboid, posterior shoulder), stickwork (forearm, bicep)
- Scapular and rotator cuff activation drills – J Bands, wall slides, etc
- Total body dynamic warm-up ( skip, lateral shuffles, carioca, inch worm, bear crawl, in / out hip flips, lateral bounding, etc)
- Gradual throwing progression
- AVOID stretching the shoulder into external rotation or extension, prolonged static stretching of any kind, creating too much fatigue
4. Do I need to ice my arm after throwing?
Ice is beneficial for decreasing pain, so can be considered for acute injures, but should be highly questioned for routine use after every pitching outing, especially over the medial elbow where the ulnar nerve is vulnerable. After prolonged icing, blood flow to the area can remain restricted for hours. Consider icing the area for 10 minutes, removing for 20 minutes to allow the area to re-warm, then reapply the ice for another 10 minutes. Instead, you can practice“ active” recovery, including light jogging, foam rolling or stickwork, and light tossing.