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Baseball Pitchers Need Winter Workout

Year-round conditioning crucial to keeping injuries at bay

SUNDAY, Feb. 22, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- Baseball pitchers need to throw more than snowballs in the wintertime to keep in shape.

For all serious athletes, off-season training is necessary to stay strong and flexible and prevent injury during the regular season. However, pitchers face special risks because their work puts particular stress on the shoulder and elbow.

As many as 58 percent of young pitchers, aged 11 to 18, experience elbow problems during or after a game. And 15 percent of college pitchers feel their pitching was hampered by pain, tenderness or limitation of movement due to pitching when they were younger, according to the American Sports Medicine Institute.

Because they are particularly vulnerable to injury, pitchers need to work at keeping in shape during the winter months.

Off-season programs should address conditioning, strength training and flexibility. During the winter, pitchers should exercise at a lower level to allow any tissue healing, and their program should slowly increase in intensity to reach a peak right before the competitive season.

Weight training is recommended. So is aerobic activity to increase stamina. When practicing baseball, pitchers should progress gradually so they are not throwing, hitting, running, sliding "too hard," "too fast," too far," or "too quickly," all of which can increase their risk of injury.

More information

Go to the National Strength and Conditioning Association for an interview with Barry Heyden, director of conditioning for the New York Mets, about winter conditioning for baseball players.

SOURCE: American Sports Medicine Institute; National Strength and Conditioning Association
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