Posts Tagged ‘arm care’

The beginning of November is synonymous with the end of baseball season. The World Series has just ended, all of the big travel ball tournaments have ended, and the high school fall season (in Florida, at least) is coming to an end.

So hopefully the next thought that crosses your mind is:

“What’s the best way to prepare my arm over the offseason”

This used to be a very black and white matter for me. You ABSOLUTELY HAVE to take time off. Like as close to 2 months as possible. Definitely 1 month.

The sign I used to put over the baseballs during the “No Throwing” period

 

But with experience, and hopefully some wisdom, I have learned there are endless scenarios for athletes that require a grey area to answer the question above.

So here are the guidelines we suggest to our athletes, and a few examples of situations that require us to work in the grey area:
  • We recommend that all baseball players take 4-8 weeks off from picking up a baseball.
  • For the way the yearly schedule works out for most of our guys, we are recommending that they take 4 weeks off (all of November) from throwing.
  • As I mentioned, most of the high schools just finished fall ball and travel ball teams have their tryouts around the weekend of January 12. So taking 4 weeks off allow the athletes adequate time (6 weeks) to get ready to throw 100% at a tryout.
When we it comes to customizing a program, some of the factors that play in to the length of time off throwing are:
  1. Injury History– Ideally more rest time and longer on ramping before spring season for athletes coming off an injury or less than a full year back from an injury.
  2. Velocity– The higher the velocity, longer the down time. This rule becomes less of a factor the older an athlete is. For example, a high schooler that throws 96 needs more time off relative to his peer compared to a 27 yr old in Triple A that throws 96.
  3. Previous Calendar Year Innings Pitched– Obviously the more innings pitched, the longer we would like to have the pitcher rest, up to 2 months.
  4. Upcoming Calendar Year Innings Projections- If a pitcher is going to be the ace for the high school team and play travel ball in the summer, we are going to project 80 innings (50-60 IP for school and 20-30 IP for summer team). If the athlete is also pitching in the fall, that total number for the year is closer to 100 innings. If the pitcher is a reliever, his projection is probably closer to 20 innings in spring and 20 innings during the summer. Clearly, 2 pitchers that may have a 40-60 inning difference over the course of a year should also have different off season programs.
  5. Role on the Team– This one does coincide with Innings Projection, but I think of this more in the sense of “When does the pitcher need to be ready to compete at 100%?” For instance, a junior in college that is the returning ace and a projected draft pick needs to be ready to compete at 100% on opening day. A junior who threw 5 innings last year and is trying to prove himself need to be ready to compete at 100% on opening day of INTRASQUADS. It doesn’t do him much good if he well rested to sit the bench.
  6. Stage of Development- Player A could go 3 months without throwing off a mound and first time back on the bump they have command of 3 pitches. Player B has zero feel for his mechanics and can barely throw a fastball in the strike zone. Having Player B go 4-6 weeks without touching a baseball could significantly stunt his development, where it’s probably necessary for Player A to have the time off. Instead, take the 4-6 weeks with Player B and implement sub maximal mechanical and throwing drills. If done properly, the athlete is still getting a break from high intensity stress on his arm while working on his weaknesses.

 

Long toss is a great way to increase arm strength, but is that what YOU need this offseason? 

So this year, we have made an adjustment and put guys into a few different categories. We have some pitchers that are going to not touch a ball for 4-8 weeks, others that will throw 2-3 times a week at a very low intensity, and still others that will continue normal throwing through the winter.

We all have that kid that would completely forget everything if he stops throwing for any amount of time. Is it really in his best interest to take time off and have everything he’s worked on for the past 10 months completely disappear?

The biggest thing to remember as sports performance or skill coaches is our number 1 job is to help the athlete improve at their sport. Having the same off season throwing plan for every single baseball player is not going to help each person. We are trying to be more and more creative in the way we handle our throwers in the off season so we can maximize results and minimize stress on the arm.

Having said that, we wanted to provide an Off Season Throwing Calendar. This will give you a day-by-day guide to prepare your arm for the season. REMEMBER, IT IS JUST A GUIDE. Listen to your body and modify the program as needed. Please feel free to email me at barrett@revolutionsp.com or contact me on any social media platform if you have any questions.

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Resting Your Arm

Posted: November 25, 2012 in Baseball
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As winter is approaching and temperatures finally start to dip here in the south, it is important to remember (or learn) that it is not bad to take some time totally off from baseball. No matter your age or skill level, this should be included in your yearly training schedule. When I say off, I don’t mean zero physical activity, but I would suggest not picking up a bat or ball for a little while.

With throwing, the general agreement is 6-8 weeks (in succession) is an appropriate and necessary time to take off. That doesn’t mean no bullpens or long toss for 6-8 weeks, that means no throwing at all. Like don’t touch a baseball. I would also suggest staying away from specific shoulder work (bands, light dumbbells, rotator cuff exercises). This will give the shoulder and elbow time to recover from the repetitive stress placed on it during the previous 10 months of use. Start back with very basic, light exercises and increase volume and intensity like you would with any training program. You can also put more emphasis on your strength program and include exercises like explosive med ball throws a that are more taxing and shouldn’t be implemented while you are throwing on a regular basis.

I do not believe as much time off is needed for hitting. Somewhere between 2-4 weeks would be more appropriate. I would also suggest taking swings from your non dominant side whether you switch hit or not (unless you have back or hip problems in which case you probably shouldn’t be swinging at all). This will help even out muscle imbalances built up from the thousands of swings you take during the season from one side. Most kids also enjoy the challenge and it’s something different.

Besides the physiological benefits from the time off, I always felt like it recharged me mentally. After any break, the “daily grind” feeling was gone and I was ready to get after it. My focused improved and I was much more driven.

This concept holds true with any sport. Year round teams can lead to burn out for a younger kid and the risk of injury increases greatly. College and professional athletes will tell you they have to have some kind of break and get away from it all. Take some time off. It will be much more beneficial to you in the long run.

Because of the spike of arm injuries over the past 2 decades, arm care has been a focus of many overhead athletes. There are many different programs that aim to properly train the rotator cuff and other smaller muscles involved in an overhead movement. For the purpose of this article, we will focus on pitching as the overhead movement.

While rotator cuff and other isolated arm care work is important, it should be viewed as auxiliary work when we think about preventing arm injuries. In Anatomy Trains 2nd Edition, Thomas Myers illustrates how the fascial system connects our whole body. One of the main points he tries to convey is how one area of a fascial line can affect the entire line, not just the immediate area around the effected area. One statement Meyers made really stuck out to me when discussing the functional lines:

 “While remedial work on these muscles or their antagonists may be helpful, long-term relief depends on reinforcing the strength and precise timing of the Back Functional Line  (BFL) in throwing, rather than asking the small muscles of the shoulder joint to bear the entire burden.”

 Note: The Back Functional Line is the fascial system that runs from the distal attachment of the latissimus dorsi through the sacrolumbar junction to connect with the lower fibers of the gluteus maximus on the opposite side.

Hopefully by now you know I am a huge proponent of training the entire body together as much as possible. There is certainly merit to isolation work, but the body needs to be taught how to work together. This idea is emphasized throughout Anatomy Trains, especially in the above quote. While there are many other applications to this idea, let’s concentrate on back during a pitch.

This goes beyond pull ups, DB rows, reverse flys, and keeping the golden 2:1 pull:push ratio. While those exercises are important, they are isolated strengthening exercises. They don’t do much for the timing of the BFL. We want to try and get the entire back to work on decelerating the arm and body.

So how is this accomplished?

The simplest way to do this is hold on to the ball, preferably a weighted ball. The thought behind this is if your body can slow down say a 2 lb ball, it can certainly slow down itself after it releases a 5 oz object. Also, your body will not let your arm accelerate any faster than your deceleration muscles can slow it down. If you want to increase velocity, start by improving your deceleration muscles (infraspinatus, teres minor, biceps), along with the integrating the rest of the musculature of the back.

Drill: Start in the “early cocking” position where the arm is going to start accelerating forwards, and the lead shoulder is still pointing at the target, front in the position it would be in if you just landed.

Take your arm through your normal  throwing motion at a slow speed. Finish like you would normally finish a pitch, except keep your back foot down. Keeping the back foot down places more of the deceleration on the back. Once you finish your follow through, rewind the motion taking your arm back through the exact path it traveled when going forward. Return to starting position and repeat. I usually start with just a baseball and 2 sets of 6 and work up to using a 21 oz ball and 3 sets of 10 depending on the athlete.

It all goes back to the idea of training the body as 1 unit. There are several other drills that teach us how to utilize a larger section of the body or the entire body during a specific sports movement. I will cover some of the other exercises I use at another time. It is also important to note that mechanics play a major role in the precise timing involved in a skill like pitching. Your back can be really strong and it won’t help at all if your mechanics suck. Try out this exercise and let me know what you think.