Pitchers at the high school level have a tendency to put recovery on the back burner after an outing. They either go play another position after they’re done or sit on the bench with an ice pack on their arm. Coaches and parents must educate the athlete on how important their recovery process is, not only for their performance but for their health. This article will elaborate on the details of post-throwing pitcher recovery and why it is important for high school pitchers.
When a pitcher is done with their outing or game, they should participate in the following steps:
- Eat Protein and Carbohydrates
- Meal Time
The recovery process begins as soon as the pitcher’s outing is over. If pitchers can follow these steps, it will lead to the most optimal recovery process.
Eat Protein and Carbohydrates
When the body does something physically demanding, like an outing of pitching, it needs to refuel on the nourishment lost during competition. Immediately after an outing, the athlete should hydrate. Hydration can come with water or even a sports drink to replenish lost electrolytes. This is especially crucial when temperatures are high and the athlete has lost a significant amount of fluids through sweat.
Once the athlete has cooled down a bit, it is time for a quality snack high in protein and carbohydrates. Consuming a protein shake or bar can provide 20-30 grams of protein for the maintenance of muscle and tissue growth. Pitching causes muscle and tissue damage similar to lifting weights, so consuming protein is crucial for the recovery of the muscles and surrounding tissues of the body.
Restoring lost carbohydrates can be done by eating some fruit of the athlete’s choice. Whether it’s apples, bananas, or oranges, have the athlete eat fruit with their protein. Bananas, in particular, are high in carbohydrates, can restore muscle glycogen levels, and stall muscle breakdown. They’re also high in potassium, an electrolyte necessary for muscular contraction.
When recovering from pitching, the joints which are frequently used, such as the shoulders, elbow, thoracic spine, and hips, can take a serious beating. It’s important to ensure that a pain-free range of motion is achieved and maintained for optimal performance and health. Light exercises and mobility drills can help restore blood flow and nutrients to the stressed muscles and tissues in target areas. Here are a few basic exercises that can be performed to aid the recovery process:
Banded External Rotation 3×6 each side
Banded Hammer Curls 2×12
Banded Tricep Extension 2×12
90/90 Hip Switch 3×6 on each side
Lateral Squat 3×6 on each side
These are examples of mobility drills and exercises a pitcher could do to increase blood flow to the working muscles. Blood flow due to muscle contraction brings nutrients to restore damaged tissues. Ice is not the answer to general body soreness from an outing. Ice dulls the nervous system and decreases blood flow to the stressed areas of the body.
In baseball, life is not always perfectly timed out. There are road games, late nights, and not always the best food options for athletes. Eating a well-balanced meal after their game aids the recovery process. The athlete’s meal should be rich in whole foods if possible.
The classic late-night fast food diet isn’t optimal but is better than not eating at all. Stick to carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats as best you can. Burgers, chicken sandwiches, tacos, burritos, you name it. The athlete needs calories! However, the less fried food, the better.
Unless diet restrictions apply, these are basic diet guidelines for aiding the recovery process. This article is not intended to prescribe diets; for more information on performance nutrition, seek a registered dietitian.
Teenagers should sleep 8-10 hours per night. They are growing and developing rapidly; it is crucial to both their physical and mental health to get enough quality sleep. Deep REM sleep is perhaps the most important piece of the puzzle when it comes to a quality recovery process. When sleeping, the body increases growth hormones and blood flow. This process provides oxygen and nutrients that help build and repair damaged tissues. If the throwing arm is especially sore, the athlete can try sleeping on their opposite side to allow blood flow to the stressed area.
These four steps are crucial for any high school pitcher who is trying to play at the next level. While some high school pitchers may be able to have success without taking these steps, they are leaving potential development on the table if they are not being active in the recovery process. To perform at an athlete’s best, they must be well recovered, and in a state physically and mentally that helps them succeed. All pitchers at the college and professional levels have a post-throwing routine that they stick to religiously to ensure their bodies and minds are fully prepared for their next outing.
For more articles on pitcher recovery, CLICK HERE!