SPARK's Approach to Baseball Physiotherapy
“If you can measure it, you can make it better.”
Our approach to working with the area’s top baseball talent is grounded in a few major areas that make us the most effective and sought-after baseball/softball sports medicine specialists in the DMV.
- Assessment: GET THE NUMBERS!! Baseball has been played for over 150 years. The ways in which a ballplayer’s body will be challenged and stressed are well known. But it isn’t always easy to quantify athletic ability. At SPARK, our Baseball physical therapist has developed a comprehensive assessment system to visualize and quantify areas of “power-leakage” (inefficient movement patterning/chaining) to ensure that each individual player is addressing their specific limitation(s). In addition to assessment of range of motion, strength, flexibility, or areas of pain, we examine known speed, power, and mobility metrics that translate directly to high-level performance on the diamond.
- Manual therapy: There are many types of manual therapy that are used to improve or maintain ballplayers’ restriction-free movement. Such manual therapy approaches could include soft tissue manipulation, trigger point dry needling, joint mobilization, and high-speed manipulation just to name a few. These techniques are highly specific and dependent on the issue we are attempting to address.
That said, the goal of any manual therapy treatment is to create more pain-free movement so that the ballplayer can be further pushed into ranges and speeds that they will encounter on the field.
- Strength and conditioning: Most physical therapists working as generalists may also work with baseball players. Additionally, there are lots of great strength and conditioning pros and programs available everywhere. Baseball physical therapists work in tandem with or as the team’s strength coach. Where a rehab/prehab pro can be involved in strength and conditioning programming you will be sure to find fast, powerful ballplayers. Good baseball strength and conditioning should always include exercises/drills to improve core strength, lower body power, single-leg stability, and upper body exercise targeting the specific large muscle groups used in pitching, hitting, and fielding.
- Injury prevention/Prehab: To know what can hurt allows us to know what should be made bulletproof. Baseball physical therapists are instrumental at designing programming and giving the advice to prevent issues from cropping up in the first place.
Making sure to warm up and cool down appropriately is vitally important to keeping ballplayers OFF the treatment table.
“We don’t throw to stretch. We stretch to throw.”
- Rehabilitation: When a player sustains an injury, we will work with them to create a rehabilitation program to recover as quickly and safely as possible. This almost always includes a combination of manual therapy, strengthening exercises, and other treatment modalities.
- Return to Play: Creating an easy-to-follow, objective, and stimulating return-to-play program has become a lost art. Athletes want to get back to playing, while baseball physical therapists just want to ensure that all healing and hardening have occurred to allow for pain-free play. This is the final step in “letting out the leash” enough so that our athletes can feel their progress but not get too far ahead of the healing process and wind up back on the table. That’s not what anyone wants.
Overall, our goal is to help players maintain optimal function and performance, while reducing the risk of injury and promoting long-term health and wellness inside of the game we hold dear.
At SPARK, we are proud of all of those ballplayers who’ve gone on to experience their dream at the high school, collegiate, and professional levels. Without their hard work and dedication, our coaching and treatments would have been much less effective.
“Hard work always beats talent when talent refuses to work hard.”