For a player like Chicago White Sox 3B and rookie sparkplug Gordon Beckham, the work is far from over once the final out of the game is recorded. That's because Allen Thomas, director of conditioning for the White Sox, puts his players through a post-game recovery routine that hits every major and minor muscle group, from the ground up.
At the top of the order for the ChiSox position players is a light PNF stretch. The "Stretch, Hold and Relax" method—a basic principle of PNF stretching—helps improve range of motion and allows the muscles to stay flexible.
Here, Thomas explains the six muscle areas you need to cool down post-game and why.
- Instead of just shutting down your upper pectoral girdle, you need to slowly cool it down. The muscles in this area include the pec major, pec minor and rotator cuff, all ones you use for throwing and swinging.
- To stretch the upper body, we engage the core muscles and use stretches that open up passages that may want to shut down by allowing for lactic acid to pass.
- We work the hip flexors to keep them open, ready and flexible, so they can handle the constant quick-burst movements and stops and starts that is the game of baseball.
- Your rotator cuff comprises intricate muscles, each having its own responsibility. You need to cool them off after all the throwing and swinging. And you can't cool down one small muscle without cooling down another
- Every on-field action requires a turn, twist or rotation. To recover your back and sides, you need stretches that fire the smaller muscles, like the quadratus lumborum.
- Consider how many pitches you face at bat, and how with each one you need to reset your stance, then react. Your hamstrings bear the brunt of this activity, which is why you need to work these post game.
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