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Let's take a closer look at static stretching for baseball pitchers.
With new sports performance research, it's understood that static stretching is ineffective as warm-up prior to strength training or throwing. While these stretches should be avoided prior to working out, static stretching can have many benefits following any activity.
About static stretching
Static stretches are used to stretch and lengthen the muscle to an elongated position while the body is at rest. These stretches are usually held to the point of discomfort for at least 30-60 seconds.
It's important for baseball pitchers to understand that these stretches should never be used as warmup. There is overwhelming evidence that static stretching prior to exercise will decrease explosiveness, and could even increase the possibility of injury.
Static stretching has been shown to decrease muscle strength by up to 9% for 60 minutes following the stretch and decrease eccentric strength by 7% followed by a specific hamstring stretch.
What's more, the Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport (vol. 71, no.1) also found that "three 15-second stretches of the hamstrings, quadriceps, and calf muscles reduced the peak vertical velocity of a vertical jump in the majority of subjects."
Lastly, the Guidelines to the Implementation of a Dynamic Stretching Routine says "Static based stretching programs seem best suited following an activity."
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When to perform static stretching
There are hundreds of studies that conclude with these same results regarding static stretching. It is advisable for baseball pitchers to use dynamic stretching and foam rollers instead of static stretches prior to your physical activity.
Once you have completed finished your strength training routine or baseball game, you can implement static stretching exercises. Here are some of the benefits of static stretching following activity:
- Improves mobility and range of motion
- Allows muscles to relax and lengthen
- Faster recovery time
- Increased flexibility
Now that you understand the potential benefits of utilizing static stretching following any physical activity, let's take a look at some exercises.
9 static stretching exercises
I'm going to highlight some very basic exercises for both the upper and lower body. It is best to hold these static stretches for 20-30 seconds, but holding them up to 60 seconds can greatly improve flexibility and range of motion. Spending an extra 15 minutes static stretching can be very beneficial for all people who exercise.
- Standing hamstrings stretch
- Standing quads stretch
- Side trunk stretch
- Knees to chest stretch
- One knee to chest stretch
- Male dominance stretch
- Lat stretch
- Hip stretch
- Internal rotation stretch
Stand with both leg together, slowly bend towards your toes towards the point of mild discomfort, and hold this position for 20-30 seconds. Do not bounce!
If you have good balance, stand on one foot and pull opposite the foot towards your butt. You should feel a stretch in your quad and hip flexor. Repeat on opposite side.
Pull one arm behind your head by grasping the tricep. Once your arm is behind your head, you will then bend your body to one side. You will feel a stretch in your tricep and lat. Repeat on the opposite side.
While on the ground, pull both of your knees to your chest without lifting up your lower back.
Same as the previous exercise except you will only hold one knee at a time.
While laying on your stomach, press your body upward so that your chest is in the air, and your head is looking up. This is an excellent exercise for stretching the lower abdominals.
While on your knees, push your body back with your hands on the ground. Your arms will stretched out in front of you, and you should feel a stretch in your lats.
While laying on your back, bend on knee in the air. Place your opposite foot on your quad. Pull the front of your bent knee towards you. You should feel a stretch in your lower back and hip.
Lay on your side with your arm closest to the ground bent at a 90 degree angle. You should have your head rested on something like a foam roller. With your opposite hand, press your hand towards the ground. If your hand is able to touch the ground, then you aren't doing it correctly.
This is an excellent static stretch for baseball pitchers.
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To get to the next level, preparation is everything. Big league pitchers spend far more time preparing to pitch than actually pitching.
If you believe adding velocity could be critical to your success, check out my latest strength training, conditioning and throwing programs for baseball pitchers of all ages.
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