Best Physical Therapy Exercises for Baseball Players
While you don’t need to be focused on ALL of them, our Virginia sports physical therapist adds, you should have an idea on how to choose movements, drills, and progressions that take aim at your baseball athlete’s current or future efficiency issues.
Some of the most commonly recommended exercises in this realm include:
Rotator cuff strengthening exercises: There are 4 main muscles that make up the rotator cuff. The most important functions of this muscle group are to 1) keep the shoulder joint as stable as possible AND 2) to assist with arm deceleration after a ball has been thrown. There are hundreds of effective rotator cuff exercises.
Some exercise names would include: external rotation and/or internal rotation with a band or cable apparatus, Wall Archers, or Wall Angels.
Scapular stabilization exercises: These exercises focus on strengthening the muscles that stabilize the shoulder blade, which can help improve throwing mechanics and prevent shoulder injuries. Examples of scapular stabilization exercises include scapular wall slides, Y's, T's, and W's.
Total Body Conditioning; specifically lower body power and balance: Total body care IS arm care. There is so much going on during throwing mechanics that has to happen with correct timing, mobility, and power. If we’re only working on small arm muscles, then we’re not focused on the large movements that combine to actually throw the ball.
Core strengthening exercises: A strong core (aka: “athlete coil”) is created when we have good mobility through our trunk PLUS the springy and strong ability to return to square for improved throwing balance, stability, and ultimately power. Examples of core strengthening exercises include power rotation work, upper extremity weight-bearing balance drills, Russian twists, and bird dog variations.
Hip mobility exercises: Baseball players need good hip mobility for effective throwing and hitting mechanics, as well as for running and fielding. In fact, did you know that a pitcher's hips have multiple mobility requirements depending on which is the dominant hand. AND that this asymmetry is normal and should be examined for efficiency as well. Examples of hip mobility exercises include hip flexor stretches, pigeon poses, and squats.
Plyometric exercises: These are explosive movements that attempt to closely mimic sport-specific movement or energy output during training sessions. Sport-specific plyos help improve power and speed on the field. Examples of plyometric exercises for baseball players include medicine ball throws, box jumps, and lateral bounds.
The number of experts who will dispense baseball strength, prehab, and rehab info on the internet is ever-growing. In a previous post, entitled “How Do I Know If This Guy Is Legit”, I attempted to arm readers with the info they need to ensure that the advice being given is relevant to them AND factually accurate. Once you’ve established this, we can unpack any number of articles, blog posts, and recommendations for our baseball youth.
Feel free to send us your favorite baseball training articles, and we’ll let you know if that info is useful. It's always best to consult with a qualified physical therapist or sports medicine specialist to develop a customized exercise program.