Baseball players often have to deal with a variety of injuries in their throwing arm - injuries that can be easily avoided with a few simple stretches before taking the baseball diamond.
The most common injuries occur in the shoulder which can then lead to elbow injuries. There are a variety of dynamic and static baseball stretches, as well as strength and conditioning exercises that players can utilize in order to prevent these types of injuries. Baseball coaches across the country teach these stretches because they know how important stretching is for injury prevention. These stretches and exercises can also help improve a baseball player’s accuracy and velocity. Here are a few key baseball stretches that you should perform before your coach conducts a baseball workout.
1. Shoulder Circles
With your arms at your sides, make circular motions with your shoulders. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart without moving your arms or head. Try making circular motions forward first, and then do them the opposite way. This dynamic stretch is a good way to get started warming up and loosen your shoulders before doing baseball drills.
2. Arm Circles
This stretch is similar to the shoulder circles. Put your arms out to your sides, and make circular motions with them. These circular motions are similar to the motion made when throwing a baseball. Start with small circles, and then gradually make the circles bigger. This stretch should be a part of every player’s baseball training.
3. Triceps Stretch
For this stretch, you can use an item such as a towel or a band to help you if your shoulders are particularly tight. Holding the towel in one hand put your arm over your back, behind your head. Grab the other end of the towel behind your back with your other hand, and gently pull to stretch the triceps of the arm that is over your head. You shouldn’t try to force the stretch, but after incorporating it into your routine, you will know that your triceps and shoulders are loose if you can interlock your fingers in this stretching position.
4. Chest Stretch
For this stretch, you will need a partner. Raise your arms sideways away from your body to shoulder height and turn your palms forward. Have your partner stand behind you, hold your wrists, and pull both arms back at the same time. This stretch should only last 10 seconds - going longer can put you at risk for injury.
This stretch warms up your back as well as your rotator cuffs. Start by holding your arms out to your side at shoulder height. Then swing your arms across your body and hug yourself. Your hands should reach behind you and hold the back of your shoulders. Hold this position for a second and then repeat.
Whether you are an infielder, outfielder, pitcher or catcher, baseball players need to maintain flexibility in their shoulders. If you want to play at a high level, you should be performing these baseball stretches every day. The most common shoulder injuries result from players lifting too much in the weight room, tightness, or not resting their arms enough after throwing for too long. In order to prevent these injuries, baseball players should work on shoulder flexibility by doing these and similar stretches before their baseball workouts.