The 3 Best Stretches for Baseball
Improve your baseball and minimize injuries with 3 of the best baseball stretches.
by Brad Walker | First Published October 14, 2010 | Updated March 29, 2019
Alexander Cartwright is credited with inventing the rules of the game in 1845 and organizing the first game in the United States on the 19th of June, 1846 in Hoboken, New Jersey.
Muscles used in Baseball
For a baseball player, the upper body anatomy is critical in the game. The wrist, fingers, arm and shoulder are of utmost importance during pitching and throwing. The primary muscles of the upper body used are pectoralis major, deltoids, teres major, triceps and the rotator cuff muscles. The serratus anterior muscles help to stabilize the scapula.
The back extensors, abdominals and obliques also help with trunk rotation during the pitching and throwing motion.
The major muscles in the lower body that help with running and core stabilization include the quadriceps, the glutes, the hip flexors, the hamstrings and the calves.
Most Common Baseball Injuries
Baseball players are vulnerable to a range of acute injuries, including:
- Muscle bruise or contusion;
- Anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) sprain;
- Meniscus tear;
- Ankle sprain;
- Back sprains and strains
- Ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) sprain; and
- Rotator cuff tear or strain.
More commonly, baseball players suffer from a range of overuse (chronic) injuries, including:
- Rotator cuff tendinitis;
- Throwers elbow;
- Achilles tendinitis; and
- Knee tendinitis, including patellofemoral pain syndrome, chondromalacia and patellar tendinitis.
Injury Prevention Strategies
Pre-season training and conditioning are critically important in helping to prevent both overuse injuries and traumatic (or acute) injuries. The following tips can also help avoid injury:
- Always warm-up properly prior to training and especially competition.
- Allow an adequate cool-down period after training and competition.
- Strength training and improved cardiovascular fitness will help to build resistance to injury.
- Good flexibility training will reduce injuries from tight and inflexible muscles.
- Attention to proper throwing and batting technique and form will help to reduce both overuse and acute injuries.
- Wear proper protection, including a batting helmet and properly fitting, cleated footwear.
- Catchers require a helmet with facial protection, as well as padding for the throat and chest.
- To avoid overuse injuries, do not exceed 80 to 100 pitches in a game or 30 to 40 pitches in a practice.
- Be certain the playing area is free of debris.
The Benefits of Baseball Stretches
Coaches and trainers are now emphasizing the benefits of a complete baseball training program to maximize performance and prevent injuries. Stretches for baseball in particular have many benefits that should not be overlooked. Here are a few:
- Regular baseball stretches are key to maintaining flexibility, which in turn fosters a good posture and reduces lower back pain and discomfort.
- Stretches for baseball training can increase a player’s athleticism by controlling muscle imbalances, which can cause muscle strain and also contribute to clumsiness, which in itself can lead to injury.
- Finally, regular baseball stretches can help prevent injuries.
The 3 Best Baseball Stretches
Stretching is one of the most under-utilized techniques for improving athletic performance, preventing sports injury and properly rehabilitating sprain and strain injury. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that something as simple as stretching won’t be effective.
Below are 3 of the best stretches for baseball; obviously there are a lot more, but these are a great place to start. Please make special note of the instructions with each stretch, and if you currently have any chronic or recurring muscle or joint pain please take extra care when performing the stretches below, or consult with your physician or physical therapist before performing any of the following stretches.
Instructions: Slowly move into the stretch position until you feel a tension of about 7 out of 10. If you feel pain or discomfort you’ve pushed the stretch too far; back out of the stretch immediately. Hold the stretch position for 20 to 30 seconds while relaxing and breathing deeply. Come out of the stretch carefully and perform the stretch on the opposite side if necessary. Repeat 2 or 3 times.
Lying Knee Roll-over Stretch: While lying on your back, bend your knees and let them fall to one side. Keep your arms out to the side and let your back and hips rotate with your knees.
Elbow-out Shoulder and Rotator Stretch: Stand with your hand behind the middle of your back and your elbow pointing out. Reach over with your other hand and gently pull your elbow forward.
Rotating Wrist and Forearm Stretch: Place one arm straight out in front and parallel to the ground. Rotate your wrist down and outwards and then use your other hand to further rotate your hand upwards.
Watch the Baseball Stretches video
Click on the play button below if you prefer to follow along to a 10 minute video of the best stretches for baseball.
These baseball stretches are best done after your baseball training, as part of your cool down. They can also be done as a stand-alone stretching session to improve your baseball flexibility, but make sure you’re fully warmed up before starting the stretches.
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Research and References
- Walker, B. (2011). The Anatomy of Stretching, 2nd Edition (ISBN: 978-1583943717)
- Wikipedia contributors. (2019, April 30). Baseball, In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.
- Limpisvasti, O. ElAttrache, N. Jobe, F. (2007). Understanding shoulder and elbow injuries in baseball. Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 15(3), 139-147.
- Fleisig, G. Weber, A. Hassell, N. Andrews, J. (2009). Prevention of elbow injuries in youth baseball pitchers. Current Sports Medicine Reports, 8(5), 250-254.
- Bailey, L. Thigpen, C. Hawkins, R. Beattie, P. Shanley, E. (2017). Effectiveness of manual therapy and stretching for baseball players with shoulder range of motion deficits. Sports Health, 9(3), 230-237.
- Sauers, E. August, A. Snyder, A. (2007). Fauls stretching routine produces acute gains in throwing shoulder mobility in collegiate baseball players. Journal of Sport Rehabilitation, 16(1), 28-40.
- Kokkonen, J. Nelson, A. Eldredge, C. Winchester, J. (2007) Chronic Static Stretching Improves Exercise Performance. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 39(10), 1825-1831.
- Shellock, F, Prentice, W. (1985) Warming-up and stretching for improved physical performance and prevention of sports-related injuries. Sports Medicine, 2(4):267-78.
- Fradkin, A. Zazryn, T. Smoliga, J. (2010) Effects of warming-up on physical performance: a systematic review with meta-analysis. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, 24(1):140-8.
About the Author: Brad Walker is often referred to as the "Stretch Coach" and has even been called the Stretching Guru. Magazines such as Runners World, Bicycling, Triathlete, Swimming & Fitness, and Triathlon Sports have all featured his work. Amazon (author page) has listed his books on five Best-Seller lists. Google cites over 100,000 references to him and his work on the internet. And satisfied customers from 122 countries have sent 1,000's of verified customer reviews. If you want to know about stretching, flexibility or sports injury management, Brad Walker is the go-to-guy.
Disclaimer: The health and fitness information presented on this website is intended as an educational resource and is not intended as a substitute for proper medical advice. Please consult your physician or physical therapist before performing any of the exercises described on this website, particularly if you are pregnant, elderly or have any chronic or recurring muscle or joint pain.