Monday, February 13, 2012

5 Common Baseball Strength & Conditioning Myths Debunked

Myth 1 – Distance Running Will Allow a Pitcher to Pitch Deeper in a Game and Improve Recovery Time. 
Although running poles and/or several miles a day is something pitchers have become accustomed to doing, the truth is, it can actually hurt your performance! The reason? Long-distance running trains the wrong energy system. Sprinters don't train by running miles and long distance runners don't include sprinting in their training. Baseball is full of short, explosive movements therefore, baseball players should train more like a sprinter with short, intense sprints, rather than running long distances. At Athletes In Motion, we focus on sprints. We use a variety of (short) distances, rest periods, and intervals. We never jog and we never move slow!

Myth 2 – Static Stretching will Prevent Injuries and Enhance Performance.
Static Stretching involves reaching forward to the point of tension and holding the stretch. Again, this is something baseball players (most athletes, actually!) have become accustomed to doing before getting started with their exercise, practice, or game. The truth is, static stretching is not the best way to prime your body. Before an activity, you want to warm your body up and get mentally prepared. Static stretching actually cools down the body’s core temperature down and encourages day dreaming and socialization. The best way to get ready for an activity is with a Dynamic Warm-Up. Not only does a dynamic warm-up energize and the prime the muscles, but it also gets you mentally prepared by forcing you to focus and concentrate on the task at hand. If you’ve been working out at Athletes In Motion this winter, you’ve done these dynamic warm-ups hundreds of times.

Click here for a video demonstration of a dynamic warm-up.

Myth 3 – Rotator Cuff This, Rotator Cuff That.
Many players and coaches believe that shoulder problems are caused by a weak Rotator Cuff. The truth is, dysfunction of the Rotator Cuff is the result of poor mobility in the Thoracic Spine and poor mobility and stability in the Scapula. Both of these help to stabilize the Rotator Cuff. While it is important to train your Rotator Cuff, doing this alone will not improve the health of your shoulder. It’s important to stabilize the Scapula! Without creating the proper stabilization, you're building on a weak foundation.

Myth 4 – Having a Six-Pack Means You Have a Strong Core. 
People have historically believed that doing hundreds of crunches each day will develop a strong, athletic core. But this is absolutely false! Sit-ups and crunches work the superficial muscles, the Rectus Abdominis, and ignore the deep muscles that actually make your core stronger and protect against injury. While the larger muscle groups do produce the most movement, if your supporting muscles aren’t strong, you are more likely to get hurt. At Athletes In Motion, we do core work everyday but we don’t incorporate any sit-ups or crunches in our program. Instead you’ll find yourself doing Active and Anti-Rotational work.

Myth 5 – Weighted Bats will Increase Your Bat Speed.
Most players believe that a weighted bat helps to speed up their swing but truth is, it only feels like your swinging faster when you switch over to your normal (lighter) bat. Furthermore, swinging a weighted bat can actually slow down your bat speed, enforce faulty movement patterns, and change the mechanics of your swing. While there is some truth that swinging a weighted bat (for some) can mentally prepare you for a game, it’s strictly mental. At Athletes In Motion, we never encourage the use of weighted bats with our athletes however, if one of the players feels it gives them some sort of edge, then we would not forbid it. The approach best used to increase bat speed is good old fashion strength training.

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