In this article, former Kansas City Royals strength coach Mike Griffin answers four frequently asked questions regarding training for pitching.
Does lifting cause injuries?
Anytime a person is pushing their body to their limits injuries are possible. While it is possible for someone to be doing an exercise correctly and be injured, correct technique and a well designed program limit the chance of injury. Strength training should prevent more injuries than it causes.
If I lift, will I lose my range of motion?
Losing flexibility is usually caused by one of two factors. One is a muscle imbalance which occurs when one muscles group is much stronger than its opposite muscle group. A well balanced program should keep you balanced to prevent this type of problem. The other reason a person could lose their range of motion is if they don't lift through the entire range of motion. If you consistently go through the entire range of motion while doing an exercise, you won't suddenly lose that range of motion.
Range of motion/flexibility is a major reason you should consider having a professional design a program for you and to show you the proper technique when doing strength exercises. This is a problem that can sneak up on you gradually if you aren't careful. However, don't be afraid of strengthening your body; you just need to be smart when doing it.
Is long distance running good or bad for baseball players?
Baseball is a power sport with many short explosive bursts of energy. Long distance running works your aerobic energy system, a system that is never used in baseball. Some studies show that it can actually cause a decrease in speed. Sprints are a much more effective when designing a conditioning program for baseball players.
Some people argue that long distance running helps get lactic acid out of your arm, especially the day after you pitch. The problem with that is there is very little if any lactic acid in your arm after a pitching performance. For lactic acid to build up, you have to perform at full effort for at least 20 seconds consecutively. PItchers use one explosive burst for less than one second at a time and then rest for at least 12 seconds. There is no lactic acid build-up. The soreness in your arm is more likely caused from a bunch of micro-tears in your muscles from the repeated explosive movements. Doing a series of longer sprints will get the blood flowing to these micro-tears just as well as a long distance run.
Should I get a personal trainer?
Its tough to put all personal trainers in one group. There are some great personal trainers and there are some terrible personal trainers. First you should look at their experience. Some may be great trainers for people in a cardiac rehab program but they don't have anything to do with sports. Talk with a trainer before you decide on one and ask for their experience with athletes and specifically baseball. They don't have to have a ton of experience with baseball but it doesn't hurt either.
Most trainers are going to charge about $40/hour and you will probably meet with him/her twice a week. That is on top of your gym fees. If you are going to be spending that type of money, make sure the trainer is right for you. Not all trainers are equal.
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