Recovery Exercises for Baseball Players & Competitive Athletes



Baseball has come to its seasons end and the playoff teams are in ‘full swing’. Off-season is also a downtime for other teams to recoup, regroup, and recover from a grueling season. This not only holds true for professional athletes, but also for the weekend warriors and those who like to compete.

STAY ON TOP OF YOUR GAME

So how do you get through a baseball season feeling on top of your game, throwing hard, and injury free? The short answer is pre-season strengthening and post game/ practice recovery.

The most appropriate approach for any position, especially pitchers, is to perform a consistent recovery routine and to perform a series of shoulder stability and mobility exercises for regular maintenance. This not only keeps the joints stable and strong, but it also prevents injury from overuse.

MAINTAINING THROWING STRENGTH

If you play baseball or participate in any other sport that involves throwing, then preventive exercises and recovery techniques are something you will want to incorporate into your training program.

Throwing an object at high speeds to a specific target requires core power and strength in all ranges of motion. It’s imperative to develop muscular strength, stability, and flexibility in the smaller, supporting muscles that surround the shoulders, elbows, and hip joints to sustain playing performance and prevent injury.

Post activity recovery workouts, especially for shoulder maintenance, is one of the most important preventatives to avoid injuries. Shoulder care and regular maintenance should be a part of every baseball pitcher and players’ routine no matter what the level!

TYPES OF MOVEMENT RECOVERY

There are different types of stretching and recovery techniques that help deliver improved range of motion, increase flexibility, facilitate circulation, and prepare your muscles for the next session. Understanding the difference between active and passive recovery will help devise the right program for you.

ACTIVE RECOVERY

Muscles are completely dependent on movement. Therefore, active recovery routines help sore muscles recover faster while repairing broken down tissues.

Performing an active recovery helps alleviate the delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) that occurs 24-48 hours post strenuous activity. An active recovery routine is intended to facilitate proper movement at a light intensity. If recovery exercises are performed improperly or are too intense, it can be counter-productive and cause a reverse effect.

A safe and effective active recovery is anywhere between 5-15 minutes following a game or competition. The workout incorporates light cardio (stationary bike, elliptical, light jog) along with strength exercises that facilitate movement (bands, stability ball, Total Gym). Think of this as your cool down routine.

PASSIVE RECOVERY

Passive recovery has its benefits, but when it comes to keeping you on top of your competitive game, just sitting around to wait until your muscles recover is not the best option. Instead, if muscles are overly sore or too painful to move during the post recovery period, apply cold therapy such as ice to the affected areas.

Cold therapy can be very beneficial to increasing recovery time by decreasing inflammation in the muscles. So instead of sitting around waiting to get better, consider cold therapy as part of your recovery routine, even after you performed an active recovery.

RECOVERY TECHNIQUES

Adopting a combination of recovery aids, along with a post recovery workout, will provide the best results and keep you on top of your game. Some helpful recovery techniques that competitive athletes do after a game or competition include:

• Active recovery routine - performing light cardio followed by light shoulder exercises
• Light stretching &/ or foam rolling
• Icing overworked or strained muscles
• Ice baths (shocks your neural system)
• Regular massages or recovery therapies facilitated by a professional (ex: compression sleeves, electric stem, ultrasound, PNF stretching, etc.)
• Rehydrate and refuel with good nutrition (sports drink, protein shake, etc.)
• Get proper rest / sleep

TAKE-A-WAYS

After pitching or throwing at a game or practice, plan to perform a recovery routine. It’s most effective to do specific exercises within 15-20 minutes post activity while your muscles are still warm. Be sure to hydrate prior to doing the recovery exercises so your body has the energy for more movement and your muscles do not cramp up.

A few take-a-ways to keep in mind for a recovery workout include:

• Pitching/ throwing is tough on the body, so take time for post recover routines
• Alleviate muscular soreness and tightness by performing an active recovery routine.
• Use a variety of recovery techniques to heal appropriately.
• Incorporate the Total Gym when at home.
• Invest in light bands to take with you to practices and incorporate bodyweight exercises.
• Strengthening the stabilizers (smaller muscles supporting the joints) will allow a player to throw harder and for longer time periods.
• Refrain from heavy workouts post game or practice.
• A recovery workout involves healthy range of motion exercises including; light cardio, strength & mobility, core work, and stretching (soft tissue work).
• Performing soft tissue work can reduce the negative effects of fatigue, soreness, and tissue damage in the arm/ shoulder joint.

Now let’s ‘take it home’ and get into the specifics of a recovery workout that you can do on your Total Gym equipment.

SHOULDER RECOVERY ROUTINE

This shoulder recovery routine is performed on your Total Gym by utilizing the various incline levels and cables in any specific range of motion to improve strength. These shoulder exercises are a foundation to strengthen the stabilizing muscles to prevent injury and will help recover muscles for the next event.
Each exercise focuses on shoulder strength, stability, and facilities range of motion in the joint. Maintain good form by keeping the neck muscles relaxed, engage the core for support, and keep a solid, stable base of support in the legs.
Use these exercises as a guide to create other exercises that may be more specific to your training goals or areas you need to strengthen.

DIRECTIONS

INCLINE LEVEL:

• Find the appropriate incline for your strength level and for each exercise.
• Do this by first testing out the exercise at a lower incline, then progress to a higher level if you need a challenge.
• Each exercise has a different angle of motion, so be prepared to change the incline.

REPS OR TIME:

• Either perform each exercise for 10-20 reps per arm.
• Or time each exercise for 60 seconds per side.
• Perform every exercise with core control and quality reps.

SETS:

• Perform 1-3 sets depending on your timing.
• If only 1 set is performed, then do a higher number of reps.
• If performing 2-3 sets, then do a lower number of reps per set.

SUPERSET OPTION:

• Choose 2-3 exercises that move in similar planes to perform a superset, then move to the next set of exercises and perform then in the same way.
• This will keep your muscles activated and mix up the movement so they don’t fatigue to failure.
• It’s about repetition to facilitate active motion, not over forcing strength recruitment.

FREQUENCY:

• Incorporate these exercises or similar ones after every game, practice, or competition event.
• During the off-season, aim for 2-4 days per week along with other strength and conditioning exercises.

TOTAL TIME:

• This recovery workout should take roughly 15 minutes to complete.
• This is also a good time to perform core work, light cardio, & stretch.

1. Standing Rotator Cuff [internal & external]

Internal Rotation

• Stand to one side of the Total Gym with your back facing the glide board
• Grab the same side cable with the inner arm
• Anchor the elbow into the side and keep the arm at 90 degrees
• Use slow, controlled movement to rotate the arm in & out

External Rotation

• Remain in the same direction and stance
• Grab the cable with the outside arm and perform the same action in the opposite direction

* ONCE COMPLETED, FACE THE OPPOSITE SIDE AND REPEAT THE ABOVE WITH THE SAME CABLE.

2. Single Arm Overhead - Press Down [incline position]

• Face away from tower with one cable in hand
• Anchor down and lie supine (knees bent and feet on glide board)
• Extend cable arm straight from chest to start
• Extend the arm overhead and then down to side
• Only move in a pain-free range of motion and to your own flexibility level

* PERFORM EXERCISE ON BOTH SIDES.

3. Single Arm Circles [decline position]

• Face the tower and grab one cable
• Straddle the glideboard, anchor down and lie supine in a decline position (knees bent & feet on glide board)
• Extend cable arm straight to start
• Use core control to stabilize
• Begin to make a complete circle of the arm
• Start with a smaller range of motion and progress to a larger range (work in pain-free movement only).
• Perform circles in both directions

* PERFORM EXERCISE ON BOTH SIDES.

4. Diagonal Chops

• Stand to one side of the glide board and grab the cable closet to you
• Anchor down, kneel down, and assume a high kneeling position
• Engage core to maintain stability
• Begin to move the cable from low-high in a diagonal pattern
• Adjust the range of motion to your muscular needs
• Modify: sit onto heels or completely sit at an angle facing the tower

* PERFORM EXERCISE ON BOTH SIDES.

5. Single Arm High Pull Rotation

• Maintain the same setup in #4 (above); high kneeling position
• Grab the cable with the outside arm
• Begin to rotate the torso to reach low and diagonally pull to a high row
• Lead with the elbow and rotate the torso with the power of your core
• Advanced: extend the arm at the top of the motion
• Modify: sit onto heels or completely sit at an angle facing the tower

* PERFORM EXERCISE ON BOTH SIDES.

6. Stretches

• Chest & Shoulder Opener
• Rear Shoulder & Upper Back
• Torso, Hips, Glutes, Calves
• Hip Flexor, Groin

Be sure to check out the video on how to perform these strength and recovery exercises on your Total Gym.

Keeping your supporting muscles, tendons, and joints are imperative to perform at optimal levels. Whether you're a seasoned athlete or a weekend warrior, try to incorporate these exercises into your program to stay on top of your game!

Best,
Maria

Maria Sollon

Maria Sollon Scally MS, CSCS holds a Master’s Degree in Performance Enhancement/Injury Prevention and Kinesiology. She has obtained numerous certifications in various areas of fitness and is a national conference presenter. Maria specializes in Pilates, Performance Coaching, and Corrective Exercise Techniques and Kettlebells. She is the creator of the Plyo Pilates Method and has developed a series of amazing workout DVDs. She is a Master Trainer for Total Gym, Resist-a-Ball, Body Blade, Peak Pilates, Kettle Bell Concepts and is a freelance writer for Fitness accredited magazines, newsletters, and fitness blog sites. Maria demonstrates her knowledge each day and uses her dynamic creativity throughout her specialized line of work.http://www.groovysweat.com http://www.groovysweatstore.com (purchasable workout videos) http://www.youtube.com/groovysweat (workout clips)

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