The 3 Best Stretches for Softball
Improve your softball and minimize injuries with 3 of the best softball stretches.
by Brad Walker | First Published October 31, 2010 | Updated April 28, 2019
Softball is a demanding sport, involving batting, sprinting, throwing and catching. To achieve any success as a player one needs a high level of coordination, agility, strength and flexibility. Improving your flexibility can be achieved by incorporating regular softball stretches into your softball training program.
Muscles used in Softball
The primary muscles in the lower body used while playing softball are the quadriceps, hamstrings, hip flexors, groin and the calf muscles.
The main muscles in the upper body include the rotator cuff muscles of the shoulder and the core muscles of the abdominals and lower back.
Most Common Softball Injuries
Softball players are vulnerable to a range of both acute (traumatic) injuries and chronic (overuse) injuries. A few acute injuries are potentially serious, though the game is generally considered less dangerous than baseball. Common acute injuries include:
- Muscle bruises and contusions (usually the result of collision with the ball or another player);
- Rotator cuff tear;
- Ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) sprain;
- Knee injuries, including anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) sprain and meniscus tear;
- Ankle sprain.
More commonly, softball players suffer from a range of chronic or overuse injuries, including:
- Lower back pain;
- Rotator cuff tendinitis; and
- Elbow tendinitis, including throwers elbow;
- Knee tendinitis, including patellofemoral pain syndrome, chondromalacia and patellar tendinitis.
Note: Elbow injuries are less common in softball, compared to baseball, due to the different nature of the pitch.
Injury Prevention Strategies
The following tips can help avoid injury:
- Always properly prepare before training or a game with a comprehensive warm-up and stretching. And cool down properly after training or a game.
- Comprehensive pre-season conditioning including strength, endurance and flexibility training.
- Proper technique, especially in pitching, can help limit both traumatic and overuse injuries.
- Use protective equipment including headgear, energy absorbing chest padding and mouth guards.
- Fences, walls and posts should be padded to help prevent injury, should players run in to them, attempting to catch the ball.
The Benefits of Softball Stretches
Coaches place a lot of emphasis on including softball stretches in the various softball training programs. This is because of the large number of benefits of stretching, which includes:
- Regular softball stretches are key to maintaining flexibility, which in turn fosters a good posture and reduces lower back pain and discomfort.
- Stretching exercises in softball training can increase a player’s athleticism by controlling muscle imbalances, which cause pulled muscles and also contribute to clumsiness, which in itself can lead to injury.
- Even the simplest softball stretches, as part of your overall softball training program helps to promote blood circulation, which improves mental alertness and coordination.
- Finally, regular softball stretches can help prevent injuries.
The 3 Best Softball 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 softball; 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 Lower Back 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 Forearm and Wrist 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 Softball Stretches video
Click on the play button below if you prefer to follow along to a 10 minute video of the best stretches for softball.
These softball stretches are best done after your softball training or game, as part of your cool down. They can also be done as a stand-alone stretching session to improve your softball 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 26). Softball, In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.
- Marshall, S. Hamstra-Wright, K. Dick, R. Grove, K. Agel, J. (2007). Descriptive epidemiology of collegiate women’s softball injuries: National Collegiate Athletic Association Injury Surveillance System, 1988–1989 through 2003–2004. Journal of Athletic Training, 42(2), 286.
- Barfield, J. Oliver, G. (2018). What Do We Know About Youth Softball Pitching and Injury?. Sports Medicine – Open, 4: 50.
- Rice, S. Congeni, J. et al. (2012). Baseball and Softball. American Academy of Pediatrics, VOLUME 129 / ISSUE 3.
- West, A. Scarborough, D. McInnis, K. Oh, L. (2019). Strength and Motion in the Shoulder, Elbow, and Hip in Softball Windmill Pitchers. Journal of Injury, Function and Rehabilitation, 07 February 2019.
- 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.