February 2012-Tip of the Month

"Too Fast, Too Dangerous" 

A number of years ago, Marc Dagenais, a very well respected strength coach from Canada and friend to my father, asked us to re-evaluate our Summer Camp warmups. You see, we had for many years run our students through a stagnant stretching routine, one you might find on most of the baseball and softball fields around the country. After listening to Marc explain to us why getting the body moving and the blood flowing was more important to overall muscle health and efficiency during the day's activities, we began implementing that knowledge the next morning and introduced our students to the wonderful world of dynamic warmups.

Motion during a stretching routine ultimately prepares our bodies better for the tasks at hand. Since that Summer, we've changed our warmup routine and run each of our students through a dynamic warm up during before each day of camp.

The introduction to dynamic warmups changed the way our camp approaches to conditioning and has lead us to more aggressively stress the importance of proper preparation for each practice or game.

A few days ago, a local strength coach and I were talking about spring training prep and I mentioned that my arm never felt any better than it did during the first outdoor practice of the spring. However, very often, I would over-do-it on the first day and be left with a very sore arm the following morning. Some years, if I had conditioned my arm properly during the offseason, the pain lasted only a few days. But there were definitely years where the pain never faded and it was a nagging issue I had to deal with all season long.

Here were this strength coach's thoughts on this:

Going too fast too soon when getting ready for the season can be a big problem and can cause shoulder and elbow pain that will nag you early on in the season. You need to make sure you are warming up correctly. This means spending 20-30 minutes on pre throwing exercises before you even pick up a ball! An upper body Dynamic Warm Up consisting of band work, scap work and t-spine mobility can be the difference of a hurt arm and a healthy arm. 

Another big problem is that most kids are waiting too long to start their throwing programs. If the season starts in April, you can't start throwing in March and expect to be in throwing shape. Throwing should be a slow progression starting in the pre-season months with low to moderate intensity, building a base so as the season gets closer, the throwing intensity can increase. Your shoulder and elbow will be ready for this increase in intensity and there won't be any surprises when you're throwing max effort.

Also, don't forget your post-throwing stretches. The sleeper stretch and elbow extension stretch are great to gain back some range of motion that was lost during the violent motion of throwing. Don't neglect these!

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From behind the mask,