Anyone who has ever played, coached or followed baseball in recent years can tell you that the game continues to evolve every single day. One of the biggest changes for the game has been in the area of arm health and care. You can see this emphasis at any level of baseball, whether it is little league or the Major Leagues. Baseball coaches, players and fans at the lower levels were all conscious of the regulations for pitch counts for the younger players. Now, even at the highest levels of the game, managers have been more mindful of the number of pitches and innings a pitcher throws, whether it is a starter or a closer. Even with monitoring the number of pitches thrown throughout a game, season or even any offseason workouts, is it enough? Are you building strength, range of motion, fast twitch simply by throwing a baseball less? One of the methods pitchers are using throughout the whole year is pairing up throwing with a resistance band routine.
First, let’s talk about the benefits to a pre-throw band routine. One of the most frequently asked question by any pitcher or coach in the game of baseball is how do I gain velocity? With the current state of baseball becoming more and more velocity driven, coaches and players alike are constantly looking for ways to achieve both velocity and maintain arm health. A pre-throw resistance band routine is just one of the steps we take with pitchers to gain velocity by helping to strengthen the arm. Utilizing resistance bands before throwing will allow the pitcher to stretch out their arm in a more beneficial way than just the standard right arm over the head stretch. Resistance bands help pitchers gain better range of motion or flexibility in the arm, along with working different small muscles in the arm, which in turn will support your arm health in multiple ways: (1) gain strength; (2) gain fast twitch; and (3) when used before throwing, will also act as a form of Pre-Hab. Pre-throw bands work the areas of the arm that gets the most stressed throughout throwing, whether it is in a game or a workout, ultimately acting as of form of rehab before you even pick up a baseball. Ideally, you won’t have the need to rehab, but an increasing number of pitchers are advised to start band routines after an injury occurs as well as continuing the routine throughout their entire rehab process, so it only makes sense to be proactive and protect your arm health and reduce your injury risk.
The post-throw routine. When you think about throwing a baseball which way is the arm always moving? I hope the first answer that came to mind was forward. Every time we throw a baseball, the arm is moving forward at high speeds, straining muscles and ligaments. The amount of stress put on an arm while throwing a baseball is actually quite remarkable. One of the ways we reduce that stress is to rehab/strengthen the arm by working on the decelerators or the back of the shoulder. Post-band exercises should focus on your arm exercises by going backwards. It could be exercises such as external rotations or reverse fly overheads. Building up the muscles in the back of the shoulder or decelerators is not only important for arm health, but it is also a way to gain velocity and help you get the most out of your throwing program.
There are many factors that go into arm care and velocity gains. One of the hardest things to do as a pitcher is finding the correct balance in the amount of throwing and amount of pressure we put on our arms. Resistance bands are just one of the tools out there that when done correctly will help the arm recover faster, prevent some of the smaller aches and pains that pitchers go through and help trend velocity upwards.