More questions….”What should I do after I pitch?” Here are my suggestions, in order:
1. Immediately Get Some Quality Nutrition.
People who know nutrition for athletes know that the post-workout window is the most important meal of the day. Proper supplementation after strength training and/or competition gives the body the building blocks to stimulate a positive hormonal response and jumpstart reparative processes. In simpler terms, getting good nutrition after competition allows the body to better heal itself and grow stronger for the next game or practice.
Here’s what you should take:
Something with at least 20 grams of protein and 60 grams of carbohydrate, in a form that you can quickly consume immediately following your departure from the game, not necessarily the game itself.
A 3:1 to 4:1 ratio of carbs-to-protein has been found in research to be the most effective at triggering a positive hormonal response, including a spike in insulin which helps restore depleted muscle glycogen (stored energy) and provide the amino acids necessary to rebuild the traumatized muscles and connective tissues.
This can be a supplement, such as Accelerade, Endurox R4, Biotest Surge; a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a glass of chocolate milk; a whey protein shake and a 32oz gatorade. It could be anything – just look at the nutrition labels and make sure you piece together the 3-4:1 ratio of carbs to protein.
2. Arm Exercises.
This is the best time to get your work in for two reasons:
- You have the maximum rest before your next outing, so no worry about not being fresh for next game
- The bloodflow stimulated by arm exercises will send blood and nutrients to the exact areas that were just stressed and traumatized, stimulating a healing response.
Do you need more reasons than that? 2 sets of 12 reps at a medium intensity for your anterior shoulder, scap stabilizers, rotator cuff and forearm is what I recommend. Check my pitchers’ homework category for some of these exercises.
The best time to stretch? Again – after your outing. The best time after your outing? After you’ve done your exercises, which has filled your muscles and joints with blood, nutrients and warmth. Sleeper stretch, forearm stretches, and other shoulder stretches are examples of some for the upper body, and the hips, quads and hamstrings are the next priority. Hit everything you used in the game (basically your whole body).
This could be running, jump rope, AirDyne bike, biking, whatever. It’s good to get increased bloodflow to your whole body after pitching; again, because increasing bloodflow is going to help your body repair itself faster. I say shoot for 10-15 minutes.
Sure, you could do more, but I’d prefer you hit it hard interval-style rather than spend 30-40 minutes spinning continuously. Also, pitching makes you tired, buses leave, parents want you to go home, etc. It’s often not feasible to suggest more than 15 minutes when the rest of the exercises and stretching will take 20-30 of their own. Yeah, Nolan Ryan spent 45 minutes on the bike after his starts, but Nolan Ryan also had a big league clubhouse and no one requiring him to be home at a certain hour.
Lactic Acid removal is NOT on the list of things helped by conditioning after a game – lactic acid is a metabolic waste that is almost immediately removed from the body, and lactic acid is not produced in any significant quantity during pitching, which is a very short anaerobic activity. Have you ever “felt the burn” while sprinting 200 meters or more? Of course you have. Have you ever felt the burn during pitching? No. You haven’t – the movement just isn’t long enough in duration to produce any significant lactic acid. And secondly, even if it did, the body removes it within a few seconds of the exercise ceasing. Soreness in pitching is produced by many factors…lactic acid isn’t one of them.
5. Ice, If Desired.
Does icing your arm make you feel better? Then do it. Does not icing make you feel better? Then don’t do it…unless your orthopedic says you should. This is a bigger topic of debate, which I’ve expounded on in This Post.
The Baseball Gods Reward the Pious. Dan Blewett