Pitching is a high-risk, high-reward skill, and small variances—a few inches or miles per hour—can be the difference between a scholarship or sitting on the bench. With so much riding on the specific motion of pitching, it's important to do everything we can to prepare the joints, ligaments and tissues for the strain of this specific high-velocity movement.
An easy way to keep the shoulder strong and resistant to injury is by including a specific post pitching workout after games or a bullpen workout.
This workout is effective when done right after throwing for several reasons:
- The muscles are already warm and don't require any activation drills.
- Performing specific shoulder and scapular exercises allows the shoulder to get a full range of motion.
- Strengthening the stability muscles that aren't used for pitching will allow players to throw harder, longer.
- An effective cooldown will keep soreness at bay.
Konner Wade, a pitcher in the Colorado Rockies organization says that "post-throwing shoulder maintenance is one of the most important preventatives to common shoulder injuries. Shoulder care movements should become routine for pitchers at every level"
The Post Pitching Workout
For this workout, it's helpful to have several different sizes of bands or tubing as well as a suspension trainer.
All the exercises necessitate that the shoulder blades are held back and down as if you were trying to hold a pencil between the shoulder blades at your mid back.
Start with A, then do B exercises back-to-back before moving to C and D.
A) Arm circles: Begin with straight arms out to the side doing small circles. Always go from small circles to larger.
Sets/Reps: 1x60 seconds each direction.
B1) Band Pull Apart: With elbows slightly bent, pull the band apart using the shoulder blades. For more of a challenge, go from bellybutton height to eye level, pulling the band apart every inch as you move the arms up and down.
B2) Band Face Pull: Wrap the band around an immovable object. Pull the band to eye level so the hands are higher than the shoulders, but the shoulder blades should still be set down and back.
Sets/Reps: 2x45 seconds each exercise.
C1) Suspension Trainer Overhead Squat: Start with arms extended in a 'Y' position with tension in the straps. Sit down and back into a squat making sure to keep the tension on the bands. The hands should stay behind the head with the elbows locked out.
C2) Suspension Trainer Cuban Press: Lean back holding the handles of the suspension trainer. Do a high row, with elbows at shoulder height. Picture a rod that goes from left elbow through the shoulders to the right elbow and "rotate" around that rod until your hands are up in a "field goal" position. With tension still in the straps from the back and shoulders, press the hands up over the head.
Sets/Reps: 3x30 seconds each exercise
D1) Cat/Cow: Start in a quad position, hands, knees and toes on ground. Arch the mid-back, look up at the ceiling, and breathe in. Tuck the chin, crunch the abs, and exhale as you round the back.
D2) Push-Up Plus: Start in a push-up position on a bench or on the ground with the arms fully extended so there's a little arch in the upper back. Then lower the body with just the shoulders, so the arms stay locked out, but the body moves. Then lower into a regular pushup, come back up, and "extend" the shoulders at the final part of the exercise.
Sets/Reps: 2x45 seconds each exercise
After pitching or your throwing workout for the day, it's most effective to start these exercises within 15 minutes, before you have a chance to cool down too much. For best results, hydrate right after throwing before the strength portion. Have at least 24 ounces of water.
Start with A, and do both exercises as a superset before moving to the next superset (B). Each exercise is done for time, so don't worry about how many reps get done. It's more important to maintain quality reps throughout the set.
This workout should take between 11-15 minutes, and if there's time, it's a good idea to do some dedicated core work as well. Make sure you're doing effective core exercises like Bodysaws or any of the exercises included in this list.
- Pitching is hard on the body, so pay attention to recovery and strength.
- By doing a specific workout right after throwing, soreness is alleviated, and recovery is faster.
- Using light bands and bodyweight exercises with pristine form is ideal for pitchers.
- Don't do heavy workouts after pitching. Instead, use this recovery workout, do core work and cardio.
- 4 Exercises Pitchers Need to Do After Every Start
- Should Pitchers Ice After Throwing to Prevent Shoulder Injuries?
- 4 Ways to Take Care of Your Throwing Arm