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INTERVAL THROWING PROGRAMS: RETURN TO BASEBALL

 

INTERVAL THROWING PROGRAMS: RETURNING TO BASEBALL AFTER INJURY

Athletes must take the appropriate steps following an injury to ensure that they are returning to their given sport in optimal condition from both a medical and performance standpoint.   Return to sport rehab and planning is all about risk management; finding that delicate balance between pushing the boundaries to achieve maximal therapeutic effect with each intervention without crossing our activity tolerance threshold and creating adverse reactions delaying return to play. Sports such as baseball require athletes to perform certain skills and tasks that are extremely unique to the sport adding complexity and requiring a detail oriented approach to the rehab process.

Throwing a baseball is a highly specific skill and has been deemed one of the most violent actions we take our bodies through in all of sport by several prevalent biomechanists.  Properly throwing a baseball at maximal effort requires our entire body moving and functioning as one to obtain excessive ranges of motion at a high rate of speed with precise timing.  Any flaw in this system leads to poor performance (inability to achieve maximal velocity and accuracy) and higher likelihood of injury due to excessive strains being placed at areas that are already at their threshold given the extremely unnatural motion.

A proper throwing program should include, but not is not limited to the following:

  1. Mobility: Throwing requires our ankles, hips, torso, shoulders and elbow to move through large ranges.  A deficiency in any area will require another one to pick up the slack and eventually that compensating area will break down.  A common area I find lacking on individuals is internal rotation on the landing or striding leg and throwing arm.

  2. Strength: More importantly, the ability to adequately decelerate forces following the release of the ball.  Throwing athletes often have the ability to achieve maximal acceleration and force production, but lack the ability to control these forces following late cocking phase and acceleration through deceleration and follow through of the throwing motion.

  3. Tissue Tolerance: Throwing places tissues in highly stressful environments.  Be sure to spend time on a foam roller or any piece of soft tissue mobilization equipment prior to and following a throwing session.

  4. Interval Throwing Program: An interval throwing program is a systematic and structured progression back into maximal effort throws.  They are typically progressed in phases which increases the following variables: repetitions of throws per set, total volume of repetitions, distance, flat/mounded throws and pitch/throw type if applicable.   Below is a sample of a simplified throwing program for a non-pitching throwing athlete to be used for illustrative purposes.
     

 

Phase

Distance

Sets

Throws

Rest (Between Sets)

1

45

3

25

5 minutes

2

60

3

25

5 minutes

3

90

3

25

5 minutes

4

120

2

25

10 minutes

5

150

2

25

10 minutes

6

180

2

25

10 minutes

 

Throwing programs should be progressed per tolerance of program and in accordance with your in season/off season demands.  The amount of rest in between sessions and total length of time to complete the throwing program in its entirety will be discussed with you by your medical team to suit your individual needs.