Friday, October 10, 2008

Baseball Bounce Back Ability

RT Staff Note: Jon Doyle's Baseball Training Secrets has numerous articles on Hitting, arm strength, speed training and strength and conditioning on his web site. He also has some of best video training programs in the business. Click the link above to view all of his articles and other offerings.
RT Staff

By Jon Doyle.

Can you remember how your body felt on opening day? Adrenaline was flowing; your heart was racing with a little bit of jitters. You know, those kind of jitters that you feel just before the sh*t hits the fan and you go out and open up a can. Your body felt like a million bucks on that first day after a great off-season training program and pre-season conditioning plan that had you ready for whatever anyone brought your way.

Then, very shortly after the season began, sometimes even on the first play, that first strain happened. Subsequently many more followed. Achy joints, bruises and general fatigue soon set in as well. By the end of your season you were a shell of that physical terror that took the field on opening day. Even though a long, grueling season will ultimately provide a certain amount of wear and tear; the correct measures can lessen this a great deal and keep you on the field kicking butt and taking names.

The most overlooked aspect in the strength and conditioning community is your recovery ability or “bounce back ability.” If you can’t bounce back you will not play anywhere near your potential. Period. All it takes is a little TLC of your own body. Below I list my favorite recovery methods used in-season in no particular order.

1. XVEST Incline walks followed by stretching session

Almost every sport, both team and individual, place a beating on the joints. Pain, soreness and decreased range of motion within the joints are just a few of the byproducts from the demands of sport. I had found that using an X-Vest not only helps with conditioning but strengthens the joints as well. It tricks the body into thinking it weighs more than it does so the joint has no choice but to strengthen it structure.
During the season and especially after a game or demanding individual performance, a 20 minute incline (to stress posterior chain) walk followed by a stretch down will do wonders to flush out toxins and keep the joints from getting stiff and injury prone. You want to promote as much elasticity as possible at all times.

2. Ice Baths

The majority of wear and tear from sports is accompanied by inflammation. It is crucial to get rid of inflammation ASAP. Muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints get inflamed very easily, which is tough to get rid of. The repetitive nature of sports also makes it very difficult to get rid of this inflammation. For example if you pull a hamstring trying to leg out an infield single, chances are you will re-injure it again because you will have to sprint in the next game. And the next. It never stops so your only chance is to take the proper steps towards recovery and heal the body.

Ice baths are extremely effective and truly bad ass. It takes a certain mentality to submerge yourself into freezing cold water, but the results are worth it. After an initial adjustment period your body will soon begin to feel the effects of this old school recovery method.

3. Massage/ART

Some say massage increases blood flow to the muscles. It may or may not be true. I know one thing though; when I get a massage and/or ART treatment during a season I instantly feel much better. So do my athletes. A general deep tissue sports massage can work out muscle adhesions and tension. For athletes that perform the same activity at a high volume, such as a pitcher, I suggest you find and ART practitioner in your area and see him at least once per week in-season. This can almost guarantee that a repetitive injury such as tendonitis won’t occur and your body will be primed for peak performance.

One quick note: For acute injuries, such as a hamstring pull, immediate massage is not recommended initially. Try inflammation reducing strategies such as an ice bath before you turn to massage/ART.

4. Sleep and Proper Nutrition

I group these two together because, even though it seems like common sense, these two areas are often overlooked in-season. With long days and rough travel schedules, sleeping and proper eating is not easy. You must not overlook these crucial areas of emphasis, as they can make or break your bounce back ability.

I can write for hours on this topic. Just keep it simple, the last thing you need to do is stress yourself out about this, creating even more stress. Get at least 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep per night, preferably more. Eat fresh, whole foods that give you the nutrients you need to recover and perform. In-season is not the time to cut carbs or fats. Get plenty of all three macronutrients from foods found naturally on this earth.

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