According to a study in the American Journal of Sports Medicine, half of youth baseball pitchers will experience shoulder or elbow pain at least once during a season. Researchers at the American Sports Medicine Institute found 3 principle risk factors in youth baseball pitchers: overuse (throwing too much in a season or game), poor mechanics, and poor physical fitness/physical conditioning (shoulders, hips, legs and core strength). Former Medical Director of the Boston Red Sox, Dr. Thomas Gil, says that “most pitching injuries are caused by overuse, which may be the result of insufficient conditioning of certain muscles.”
Here are some quick and easy exercises that can help strengthen weak muscles and reduce the chance of injuries. These exercises can be performed every other day with 30 reps each.
1. Tubing Reverse Fly: Secure your exercise tubing safely at shoulder height. Stand facing the band with arms out in front. Slowly bring hands out to the side and pause, then return to start position.
2. Low Row: Attach an exercise band securely to a door at approximately shoulder height. Hold ends of bands with your arms in front at shoulder height, thumbs up. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and pull your elbows back in a rowing motion, keeping your thumbs u. Hold 1-2 seconds. Slowly return to start position.
3. External Rotation: Attach an exercise band to a door slightly lower than chest height. Hold the end of the tubing in one hand. Keep the elbow flexed to 90 degrees and still against your side. Start with your arm across your stomach and move your hand away from you, keeping our elbow against your side and wrist still. Then slowly return to the starting position.
4. Chair/Box Squats: Stand in front of a sturdy chair/box that will not slide away from you. Perform a squat to the chair while keeping your head up and butt back. Return to standing and repeat for the set.
5. Lunges: Begin in a starting position with feet shoulder width apart. Step forward with one leg and lower the back knee towards the floor in a kneeling motion. Step up to a standing position with the rear leg. Continue this movement alternating left and right legs as work your way forward.
6. Planks: Lie on your stomach propping up on your elbows. Lift your hips from the ground and hold a straight and still position by contracting your abdominals and buttocks. Maintain this position for the entire set. (Three rounds of 30 second holds on this one!)
1. Lyman S, Fleisig GS, Andrews JR, Osinski ED. Effect of pitchtype, pitch count, and pitching mechanics on risk of elbow and shoulder pain in youth baseball pitchers. Am J. Sports Med 2002;30(4):463-468.