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Three Stretches to Prevent Shouder Injuries in Baseball and Softball

It's very common for ballplayers to experience soreness and fatigue in their throwing arms.  Kids are either playing year round, or playing in tournaments that cram multiple games into several days.  Even with league mandated pitch counts, every player throws the ball, especially the catchers.  So what can you do to help your son or daughter maintain a healthy shoulder?  The first, and most important factor, is rest.  When they have opportunities to rest their arms between games or tournaments, it's a good idea to take advantage of it.  This also includes throwing as a part of normal child's play or in other sports, if that's the case.  Overuse can lead to injury, so it's best to allow the body to do its healing when it has a chance. 

Stretching can help the shoulder feel better, too.  It doesn't affect recovery, per se, but can address any tightness in the muscles that results from throwing a lot.  Three stretches I recommend that can be done on your own are highlighted below. 

What about ice or heat?  Icing the arm can help the athlete with symptoms of soreness or pain, but its efficacy in aiding muscular recovery is unclear.  In my practice as an athletic trainer with professional baseball players, I yielded to what the player thought helped them the most, even if it was a psychological response.  Feel free to try it.  It certainly won't do any harm if you ice the shoulder and elbow for 15-20 minutes following activity.  Heat can be useful prior to warming up, though, a superficial heating pad will not reach very deep under the outer tissues of the body.  Like ice, it can help an athlete "feel good," but it may not affect recovery.  It can increase circulation locally, but not systemically.  For this reason, I would recommend general aerobic activity like jogging, or more intense work like sprint intervals, over the use of a heating pad.  These activities would increase circulation throughout the whole body.  The body is very good at repairing itself when damaged if give it the time it needs, keep the body well hydrated and well fed, and get good sleep at night!

Shoulder Stretches:  Stretch gently to the point of tension and hold for 20-30s while breathing comfortably.  Do not stretch to the point of pain.

Sleeper Stretch                                                                                                                                                                             





Crossover Stretch


Lat Stretch          








Michael Metcalfe is a certified Athletic Trainer at Compete Sports Performance and Rehab who spent five seasons in the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Minor League System.