Baseball is more than just a game; it demands high physical ability and dexterity, making it a challenge for athletes.
Pitchers, in particular, must push themselves through intense training and practice to perfect their skills.
Although, the frequent throwing movement in pitching positions can cause many injuries that can stop a pitcher’s career in its track.
Attention all pitchers! If you’re a serious pitcher looking to avoid common pitching injuries and improve your performance on the mound, this article is for you.
We’ll also share with you the best pre-throwing activities, warm-up and cooling-down procedures, injury prevention tips, and power-building drills to help you reach your full potential.
Ready? Let’s Start!
Identifying the Most Common Pitching Injuries
Pitching involves a complex motion that puts a lot of stress on the shoulder and elbow. The most common pitching injuries are:
Don’t let a rotator cuff injury put an end to your pitching career! Unfortunately, this type of injury is all too common among pitchers, often caused by overuse or poor throwing technique.
Rotator cuff injuries, in particular, can cause significant discomfort and pain.
A shoulder injury can result in pain or stiffness in the shoulder, weakness in the arm or shoulder, or difficulty raising the arm as symptoms.
Medial epicondylitis (golfer’s elbow), lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow), and ulnar collateral ligaments (UCL) can occur during pitching.
Elbow injuries can be painful and, in severe cases, need surgery to repair.
The symptoms of an elbow injury include pain, swelling, or popping sensations when bending the arm.
It is common for pitching to cause severe pain and discomfort to your lower back due to a lot of twisting and turning.
If not addressed promptly, back injuries can lead to long-term problems.
Lower back pain, stiffness, or muscle spasms are signs of a back injury.
How to Prevent Pitching Injuries
Preventing pitching injuries requires a combination of proper technique, training, and injury prevention strategies. Here are some ways to prevent pitching injuries:
Pre-Throwing Exercises for Injury Prevention
Pre-throwing exercises can help prevent pitching injuries by preparing the body for the stress of throwing. These exercises can include:
Arm swings are a great way to warm up your shoulder and arm muscles before throwing. Take a shoulder-width stance, extend your arms out to the sides, and rotate them in a circular motion.
Swing them back and forth, ensuring that the motion is continuous and fluid.
Next, shift your arms forward and backward, also in a circular motion, ensuring a smooth and continuous motion.
Make sure to keep your arms relaxed and focus on the movement of your shoulders.
Shoulder rotations are another excellent exercise to prepare your shoulders for throwing. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your arms at your sides.
Then, raise your arms to shoulder height and rotate them forward in a circular motion. Repeat this motion for several repetitions, then switch to rotating your arms backward.
Wrist curls are an essential exercise to strengthen your wrist muscles and prevent injuries.
Get ready to strengthen those muscles! Grab a light dumbbell, take a seat on a bench or chair, and let’s get started.
Rest your forearm on the bench, with your hand and wrist hanging over the edge.
Then, curl your wrist upward towards your body, hold for a second, and release. Repeat for several repetitions, then switch to the other hand.
Leg swings can help warm up your lower body and prepare your hips and legs for throwing.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your hands on your hips. Then, swing one leg forward and backward in a controlled motion.
Repeat this motion for several repetitions, then switch to the other leg.
Proper Warm-Up and Cool-Down Techniques
Proper warm-up and cool-down techniques are essential to prevent pitching injuries. Here are some tips:
- Start with light cardio exercises like jogging or jumping jacks to raise the heart rate and warm up the muscles.
- Stretch the muscles used in pitching, including the shoulders, back, chest, and arms.
- Perform dynamic stretches that involve movement, such as arm circles, to prepare the muscles for the throwing motion.
- After pitching, perform static stretches that involve holding a stretch for 30 seconds to cool down the muscles.
Strength Training Exercises for Pitchers
Strength training exercises can help improve the body’s ability to handle the stress of pitching. These exercises can include:
Looking to build a stronger upper body? Push-ups are a killer exercise for that!
Start in a plank position with your hands spaced shoulder-width apart and get ready to feel the burn.
Lower your body to the ground by bending your elbows, then push back up to the starting position. Aim to complete three sets of 10-15 reps.
Planks are a core-strengthening exercise that can help pitchers maintain stability and control during pitching motions. To perform a plank, start in a push-up position, then lower your forearms to the ground.
Keep your body in a straight line from your head to your heels, engaging your core muscles. Hold for 30-60 seconds, then rest and repeat for three sets.
Squats are a lower body exercise that can help pitchers develop leg strength and power.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, then lower your body by bending your knees and pushing your hips back.
Keep your chest up and your weight in your heels. Aim to complete three sets of 10-15 reps.
Lunges are another lower body exercise that can help pitchers develop leg strength and improve their balance and coordination.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart, then step forward with one foot and lower your body until your front knee is bent at a 90-degree angle.
Push back up to the starting position and repeat on the other leg. Aim to complete three sets of 10-15 reps on each leg.
Medicine Ball Throws
Medicine ball throws are an excellent exercise to develop explosive power and improve rotational strength, which is crucial for pitching.
Hold a medicine ball at chest height, then rotate your torso and throw the ball as far as you can. Aim to complete three sets of 5-8 throws.
FAQs About Injuries while Pitching
How can I tell if I have a pitching injury?
If you experience pain or discomfort in your shoulder or elbow during or after pitching, you may have a pitching injury. Consult a doctor or a physical therapist for a proper diagnosis.
Can I continue to pitch with a minor injury?
It is not recommended to continue pitching with an injury, no matter how minor it may seem. Rest and proper treatment are essential for a full recovery.
How can I avoid overuse injuries?
Overuse injuries can be avoided by limiting the number of pitches thrown in a game or practice session, taking breaks between games or sessions, and using proper pitching techniques.
Can I pitch after recovering from an injury?
Pitching after recovering from an injury should be done gradually, and only after being cleared by a doctor or a physical therapist. It is important to continue with injury prevention strategies even after recovering from an injury to prevent further injuries.
How long does it take to recover from a pitching injury?
The recovery time for a pitching injury depends on the severity of the injury and the treatment plan. It can take anywhere from a few weeks to several months to recover from a pitching injury.
No pitcher wants to face a career-ending injury, but unfortunately, that’s the risk that comes with pitching. Injuries can be debilitating and have the potential to derail even the most promising career.
However, with proper technique, training, and injury prevention strategies, it is possible to prevent pitching injuries.
Pre-throwing exercises, proper warm-up and cool-down techniques, and strength training exercises can reduce the risk of pitching injuries.
A doctor or physical therapist can diagnose and treat pitching injuries if they cause pain or discomfort.
Also, don’t forget to check out the Best Pitching Gloves!