Wes McGuire is the leader of our Healthy Heat program which is designed to drastically increase player's velocity no matter their position (which it has!). In our newest blog post, Wes explains simple processes to help improve pitching performance injury free.
What if I told you I could greatly reduce a pitchers chance for injury? What if I told you I could improve your performance and consistency without even watching you throw a pitch? Or that I could reduce your arm pain without even having you throw a baseball? Most guys are all ears, but they don’t want to hear what I have to say next; warm up and recovery.
Warming up is boring. You have to do a bunch of stretches and sometimes it’s long and tedious. You have to stay in line and you get yelled at by the coach or trainer for talking; it’s the worst. Some coaches don’t see the point either, like my coach in college who would tell us to hurry up and get loose so we could get to work. Go to a high school game of any kind and watch the kids before the game starts, it’s awful. They maybe take a jog to center and do some toe touches then play catch.
And it comes right from the top, you hear it all the time “alright guys let’s play some catch and get loose.” If you’re a coach, eliminate that from your pregame routine. Get loose to play catch, no one should be allowed to touch a ball until they are sweating. Establish a routine and stick to it. Learn how to be able to adjust to having 20 minutes to get your team ready to play a two hour game. As a person that is in charge of 14 high school kids, I would rather go into a game with zero BP swings than run out there with a bunch of kids who played catch to 90 feet and jogged to center. At least that way I know their body is prepared to handle the possible stresses that it will endure during the game even if they don’t feel their swing is completely dialed in.
Players, make it a habit now before you suffer an injury. What’s better, your first swing when you get out of the car or your 20th swing? All you need is 15 minutes. start with something fairly simple like light jogging to get your heart rate up and build towards some simple jumping or explosive movements. Find simple arm care routines that you like and stick with it, build your own process.
I start every 30-minute lessons with a real warm up. If I take 10 minutes to get an athlete loose and sweaty they are going to get more out of the 20 minutes that we have left than if we just spent 30 minutes throwing.
The next biggest piece that is often overlooked is recovery. The goal is to feel as good as possible at the beginning of every day. If you feel better when throwing you can try to throw harder, if you can try to throw harder more often you will likely increase velocity. Look at a guy in the big leagues that has battled injuries. It’s not the playing through the injuries that effects their stats; it’s the lost training time.
Again, a real warm up can go a long way to helping you feel good, but optimizing recovery is equally as important. My mom had the same response for anything that was bothering my brother and I growing up. The recovery was to get some food, take Advil, and get some sleep. When you’re working hard, eating and sleep are very important, however she left out some crucial elements of a good recovery. The same way a warm up should be apart of every team event, so should recovery.
Reset the scaps and get them back in place with something simple like band pulls or prone scap holds. The body needs new blood to help repair the micro tears that have been caused. Ice is the enemy because it restricts blood flow. You can use compression because once it releases, blood flows which brings in what your body needs to heal. If you can pinpoint some areas of muscle soreness try to use a foam roller or lax ball. Research is split on its effectiveness, but plenty of people feel better after. See if you’re one of them. Then crush food, water and sleep.
The next day try to go hard on the warm up and do some active recovery. If you have some specific areas that are tight spend some extra time doing a few exercises for them. When pitchers play catch it doesn’t have to be overly aggressive or even connection drills in an Oates Training Sock. There isn’t any research to back it up, but Randy Sullivan, Owner and creator of the Florida Baseball Ranch says his guys feel better if they throw in the sock the next day and everyone that I’ve had do it agrees that the sock makes you feel better.
For my long distance runners that want to run poles to get rid of lactic acid, stop. There’s plenty of research to back this up and pitching doesn’t cause lactic acid. Running poles causes lactic acid through glycolysis and robs pitchers of power, but that’s a different topic.
Now, are there people that go their whole careers without making this stuff a habit? Yes. Are there guys with no injury history that iced and ran poles? Yes. Do some guys in the big leagues just do some arm circles with a ball in their hand and come into the game throwing 100? Yes. Those guys are freaks, you’re not, YET. If you can build a body that is strong, mobile, stable and explosive then maybe you can skimp on the warm up. If you establish a long track record of durability and consistency in performance, maybe you can skimp on recovery. But if you need a few days after a start before you can throw pain free and the consistency of your outings resemble a coin flip, you need to change your routine.
If you need help with a routine, a private lesson or want to sign up for Healthy Heat please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.