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Is isometric stretching for baseball pitchers a safe and effective technique for increasing flexibility?
This type of stretching for pitchers is one of the most effective ways to increase flexibility. Isometric stretches are used by professional boxers, MMA fighters, gymnasts, and by many professional athletes.
First, let's examine the characteristics of this stretching method.
What is isometric stretching?
According to gymnastics zone, isometric stretching can be defined as a type of static stretching which involves the resistance of muscle groups through isometric contraction of the stretched muscles.
This is one of the most advanced forms of stretching.
Isometric is similar to static stretching because of the lack of movement or motion.
Both stretching techniques are completely separate from dynamic stretching, which should used for warming up prior to any activity. Keep in mind, that isometric and static stretching should never be used as warm up.
Static and isometric stretching are different because isometric requires additional pressure and resistance. This resistance is usually provided by a partner, a wall, or the floor.
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Benefits of isometric stretching for baseball pitchers
Isometric stretching is beneficial for baseball pitchers and players for developing superior flexibility, and increasing blood flow to muscles and ligaments that were used during exercise or throwing. Greater blood flow can decrease the recovery time, allowing you to throw or exercise on shorter rest.
This type of stretching can develop extreme range of motion, and it often considered one of the fastest ways to increase passive flexibility. It is a common sight to see athletic trainers using isometric stretching on basketball and even baseball players.
This form of stretching will also build stretching strength in weak point positions.
4 popular isometric stretching exercises for baseball pitchers
These stretches should only be performed following throwing or your pitcher strength training routine.
- Partner assisted hamstring stretch
- Partner assisted splits stretch
- Wall calf stretch
- Rotator cuff stretch
For this stretch you can either utilize a partner, a wall, or a rope. You will start by laying on the ground with one leg in the air and the knee locked. Your partner will then place your leg on their shoulder, they will grasp your leg, and then slowly begin to push the leg towards your head. You will feel the stretch within the hamstrings almost immediately.
If you don't have a partner, I suggest using some type of stretching rope that you can wrap around your foot and pull your leg. You can also place your foot up on some type of platform, and then pull your upper body towards your leg. Each method will work.
This stretch can be performed sitting or standing. For the sitting version, you will sit on the ground with your legs spread apart, and your upper body off the ground. Your partner will then stand in-between your legs, and begin to slowly push them apart. You can also stretch one leg at a time if you prefer.
For the standing version, you will not a partner because the ground will provide the resistance. Begin in the splits positions, and slowly attempt to spread your legs as far as possible. Also try to lower your hips and upper body towards the ground.
This is a very simple stretch that you can perform with any wall. Place both your hand against the wall with one leg in front and one leg to the back. With the leg furthest away from the wall, you will press your heel to the ground. Your leg should be fully extended, and you can increase the resistance by pressing harder and spreading the legs out further.
This isometric stretch is excellent following any throwing activity. Start by laying on your side, with the arm closest to the ground at a 90 degree angle. It is also useful to rest your head on something like a foam roller. With your opposite hand, you will press your other hand down towards the ground until you feel a stretch in the rotator cuff.
Isometric stretching videos for baseball pitchers
Check out the videos below for some other good isometric stretches.
This is an excellent isometric stretch for the hips and glutes. It's one of my personal favorites following exercise.
Isometric stretching routine for baseball pitchers
It's important to wait 48 hours between isometric stretching routines. This is primarily because of the amount of stress that this type of stretching can put on the tendons and joints. In addition, any routine should utilize only one exercise per muscle group in any given session. Follow these two rules to prevent any unnecessary tendon or joint damage.
Typically, you will perform 2-5 sets per muscle group with one set equaling a 10-15 second stretch. Hold the stretch for the allotted time, and then relax for 20-30 seconds, and repeat.
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