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Resistance Band Exercises for Baseball

Taking care of your throwing arm is a vital part of playing baseball. This is particularly true for pitchers, but every position involves a high volume of throwing. Freak injuries happen from time to time, but proper training techniques can help you avoid common baseball-specific injuries.

Here are four basic steps you can take to protect your arm and prevent soreness:

  • Monitor the amount of throwing you do, and rest your arm when necessary.
  • Use proper throwing mechanics to avoid putting unnecessary stress on the elbow or shoulder.
  • Strengthen your arm — particularly the shoulder muscles around your rotator cuff, but also your back, chest, biceps, triceps, and forearms. Doing so protects the shoulder and elbow ligaments that are most frequently injured in baseball.
  • Stretch thoroughly before throwing.

The following sections explain the benefits of resistance bands and provide exercises that protect and strengthen your throwing arm.

Join the Resistance

Resistance bands are an extremely useful training tool because they help stretch and strengthen your arm. A strength-training program can do wonders for you physically, but not everyone has the time, inclination, or resources to work out. Resistance bands provide a nice consolation, though, because they target the reactive muscles in your arm that you use to throw.

Their primary function is as a warm-up tool, and more and more pitchers are incorporating bands into their pre-throwing routines. By taking just a few minutes a day to do some dynamic stretching with the resistance band, your arm will be in much better condition to handle the throwing motion.

There are several different types of resistance bands on the market; they run the gamut when it comes to cost, and some have a wider range of capabilities than others. For the purposes of this guide, though, anything will suffice — you simply need a band that you can attach to a fence or pole. Here are five easy stretching exercises you can do with your resistance band prior to throwing.

Row

Affix your resistance band to a fence at chest-height, and stand facing it with your feet about shoulder-width apart. Hold the free end of your resistance band and take a few steps backwards until you pull the band taut. Then follow these steps:

  1. With your arm extended, start by pulling the resistance band in towards your body.
  2. Keep your elbow in close to your body, and pull until your throwing hand is even with your torso.
  3. Slowly return to your original position.
  4. Switch arms and repeat. Do 2-3 sets of 10-15 repetitions.

Elbow Rotation

This drill works out the muscles in your forearm and upper arm, focusing on stretching out your elbow’s range of motion. Adjust your band so that it’s attached to the fence at elbow-height (near your belly button). You can repeat these same exercises with your non-throwing arm.

Internal

For the first drill, hold the band in your throwing hand and stand perpendicular to the fence with your throwing shoulder closest to the fence. Working your internal elbow involves just a few steps:

Step away from the fence until you pull the band taut. Your upper arm should be in close to your side, and your forearm should be perpendicular to the ground, pointed straight out in front of you.

  1. With the band in hand, rotate the elbow forward so that you pull the band towards you until your forearm is along your stomach (you’ll end up rotating about 45 degrees). You can use your other arm to stabilize your elbow.
  2. Slowly return to the original position.
  3. Do 2-3 sets of 10-15 repetitions.

External

For this next exercise, turn around 180 degrees so your non-throwing shoulder is closest to the fence. This drill is complementary to the first, working out your external elbow:

  1. Hold the band in your throwing hand and step away from the fence until you pull the band taut.
  2. Your forearm should be perpendicular to the ground, positioned in close to your body along your stomach.
  3. Rotate backward at the elbow so that you pull the band away from you and the fence until your forearm is pointed straight out in front of you (you’ll end up rotating about 45 degrees). You can use your other arm to stabilize your elbow.
  4. Slowly return to the original position.
  5. Do 2-3 sets of 10-15 repetitions.

Shoulder Rotation

This exercise works the shoulder, upper arm, and upper back muscles. It also helps stretch out the rotator cuff and elbow by simulating the rotation of a throwing motion. Move your resistance band so that it’s attached to the fence at around eye-level. These exercises can also be repeated with your non-throwing hand.

Forward

Grab the band in your throwing hand and turn around so that you’re standing parallel to the fence, facing away from it. With this positioning, the band should provide resistance to your forward shoulder motion.

  1. Move away from the fence until you pull the band taut.
  2. Hold your arm out to the side and raise it until your upper arm is parallel to the ground and you forearm is pointing straight up (your elbow should bend at a 45-degree angle).
  3. Keep your upper arm still and rotate your forearm forward until it’s pointed straight ahead, parallel to the ground. You’ll rotate forward about 45 degrees. Keep your back straight and your upper arm back — it’s just a rotation, not a full throwing motion.
  4. Slowly rotate back to your original position.
  5. Do 2-3 sets of 10-15 repetitions.

Backward

For the final drill, keep the band in your throwing hand, but turn around 180 degrees so you’re facing towards the fence, still parallel to it. This will allow you to work the muscles in your backward shoulder rotation.

  1. Hold your arm out to the side and raise it until your upper arm is parallel to the ground and you forearm is pointing straight up (your elbow should bend at a 45-degree angle).
  2. Keep your upper arm still and rotate your forearm backward until it points straight up, perpendicular to the ground. You’ll rotate backward about 45 degrees. Keep your back straight and your upper arm back — this motion will be more difficult than the forward rotation.
  3. Slowly rotate back to your original position.
  4. Do 2-3 sets of 10-15 repetitions.

Resistance Is Never Futile

Part of being a baseball player is taking care of your most important asset: Your body. And in order to keep yourself healthy and optimize your performance, you need to stretch properly prior to every game and practice. Constantly throwing without stretching is one of the easiest ways to kill your arm, so be diligent! Resistance bands are especially helpful because you can use them to both stretch and strengthen your arm. The five exercises above are some basic warm-up stretches to get you started, but there are countless drills you can do with resistance bands. Assemble your own dynamic warm-up routine, and the results will show on the field.

Resistance bands are a great training tool for stretching and strengthening your arm before throwing. Check out this baseball guide to learn five basic warm-up exercises.
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