Common Arm Care Mistakes: Installment 4
Written on January 30, 2014 at 7:32 am, by Eric Cressey
It's time for another installment of "Common Arm Care" mistakes, and in this go-round, I'm going to be talking about volume management. This mistake can be summed up in one sentence:
If you keep adding things without taking something else away, you'll eventually wind up with overuse problems.
Effective, there is a "give and take" that is involved with the training of any throwing athlete. The more throwing these athletes do, the less supplemental training they can incorporate. This can occur in a number of different contexts.
First, on the throwing side, you'll often see pitchers who are always seeking out the latest, greatist throwing programs. However, they don't "program hop;" they just keep adding. Before you know it, they're making 300 throws in every session – and throwing seven days a week – because they have to get in their long toss, weighted balls, underweight balls, mound work, and towel drills. If you told them that practicing their nunchuck skills would help, they'd add that in, too.
Second, you have to be cognizant of the rest of your strength and power training volume. When your pitch count goes up, you need to pare back on your upper body lifting volume; banging out a bunch of chin-ups isn't going to feel so hot after a 60-pitch outing. Additionally, your medicine ball work volume needs to go down as the throwing volume goes up.
To give you some frame of reference for this, here's a little excerpt from Marlins closer Steve Cishek's off-season medicine ball programs. Keep in mind that the total throws equals left-handed throws, plus right-handed throws, plus overhead throws.
October: break from rotation, no aggressive medicine ball or overhead work
November: 156 total throws
December (started throwing mid-December): 138 total throws
January (ramped up throwing): 66 total throws
Once spring training rolls around and he's throwing even more, he'll have even less. A minor leaguer whose season wraps up a month earlier would actually be able to get an additional month of aggressive medicine ball work in.
Third, pitchers often forget that throwing itself is a huge challenge to the rotator cuff. So, if your throwing volume goes up as the season approaches, you should be doing less arm care work than you would have done in the off-season. You can get away with this reduction in arm care work because you've already put in a great off-season to build things up. Of course, if you throw year-round, then you're already behind the 8-ball when the season starts.
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