Whether it’s a drop in velocity, speed, or power; or it’s back spasms, a strained hamstring, or a torn UCL – breakdown from continuously playing a one sided sport catches up to baseball players during the season.
It never fails, year after year I see young high school aged athletes come into the gym and grind through their off season. They are consistent and precise with their workouts and we see some awesome strength and athleticism gains. But, once the season begins now all of a sudden there is no more time for developing their body physically inside the gym. As the season goes on we see an obvious drop in performance or worse, an injury presents itself and now we are stuck on the bench rehabbing instead of further developing the body.
I believe that baseball is in an awesome state right now. Its moving away from focusing on hitting the ball on the ground to the opposite field and more towards elevating the baseball over the fence. Pitching is not just about hitting spots anymore, it’s about spin rate and efficiency and how much run can you get from a 90+ 2-seam fastball. Pitchers are continuously chasing that magical velocity increase.
The Baseball Pitcher’s Injury Epidemic
Looking at this sport from someone who loves creating power, I’m thrilled to see where baseball is going. Unfortunately, this thirst for power puts a considerable amount of stress on the body and injury rates have skyrocketed over the past 15 years. Major League Baseball saw a 37% increase in injury from 2005-2008 (Posner AJSM 2011). But it’s not just at the professional level. NY State UCL surgerys increased 193% from 2002-2011 (Ahmad AJSM 2016). And, Dr. Andrews states that the youth injury rates have increased 10x in this modern baseball era.
Throwing a Baseball at Peak Velocity is Hard on Your Body
Mike Reinold spoke at this years Pitch-a-Palooza and said, “Throwing a baseball is not good for your body… Every time you throw a baseball you hurt yourself and I have 5 days to rehab you back.” Mike is Physical Therapist who trained under Dr. Andrews and, for quite sometime, the lead PT for the Boston Red Sox.
The good news is that there are proven ways to increase velocity and decrease injury. We must continuously develop our body to withstand the forces of throwing a baseball, maintain a good foundation of mechanics and movement patterns, and we must constantly care for the arm. Like Mike said, throwing a baseball is not good for your body. The speed of the arm from the laid back (cocked) position to the release is the fastest movement in sports at around 10,000° of rotation per second. So if your arm could rotate 360° it would spin in a full circle over 20 times per second. The force that is placed on the shoulder and elbow demands special attention to not only those two joints and the muscles surrounding them but, every other joint and muscle in the body as well. A dysfunction located elsewhere in the body can cause compensation patterns which could lead to pour mechanics and less consistency. As well as cause the elbow and shoulder to over work, fast tracking an injury and paving the path for months on the disabled list and possibly thousands of dollars in medical bills.
True Grind’s Pitcher Recovery Program
We are combining the strength and conditioning training, arm care, the preventive treatment and the skill training that baseball has at its most elite level to help keep our athletes healthy and performing at their fullest potential. Our strength program is individualized to each specific athlete to address the goals as well as any dysfunction they may have. We use a number of proven arm health and injury prevention techniques such as, myofascial release, floss therapy, and electrical stimulation technology with our Marc Pro.
In reality, developing our body, correcting dysfunction, and taking care of our arm should never stop. If you believe developing should stop during the season, you are putting yourself at a real disadvantage. If your goal to play at the next level then why would you ever stop developing or taking care of your body?