Contributed by Jennifer Davies, MSBL Conditioning Editor
How To Protect Your Joints During Baseball Conditioning
Baseball conditioning routines focus on strength, speed, and agility. The exercises that you do may stress your joints — especially your knees, elbows, and shoulders. Learning how to protect these joints as you do your conditioning routines will help you have a healthy, active playing season.
Baseball is a sport that is centered around power moves and sudden bursts of mighty muscle exertion. Conditioning might include sprints, medicine ball circuits, and sled pushes. These workouts train your muscles to drive hard for short periods of time and then recover before performing again.
Fitness As You Age
As you age, the cartilage between your bones wears down due to use over the years. This is especially true in the knees. If you’ve been active over the years and enjoy running, skiing, and other active sports, you likely don’t have as much cartilage in your knee joint as you used to. Another change to exercising as you age is that your muscle mass may decrease. Muscles protect joints, so a decrease in muscle mass might leave a joint vulnerable to injury.
Protect Your Knees
According to Hanna Mich, an exercise specialist who has her Master of Education in applied kinesiology, knee injuries can happen due to under conditioning or overtrain. Baseball is especially demanding on knees because of the bursts of speed, sudden stops, and changes in direction. If you know that under conditioning is your problem, spend time building up your leg muscles. Mich advises single-leg hops and lunges. If overtraining is your problem, work rest days into your conditioning routine.
A Focus On Elbows
Mark Salandra, Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist, says that elbow pain often occurs when “the triceps muscles are not strong enough to slow down the arm once the ball has been thrown.” This puts pressure on the elbow joint. Tricep strengthening can eliminate the problem. If you experience pain, try resting and icing your elbow.
Your shoulder joint is stabilized by muscles in your back and even your hip. As you age, it is essential to perform resistance training that targets the shoulder muscles and back muscles so that loss of muscle mass does not occur. Maintain the stability of your shoulder muscles through moves such as the lat pulldown, reverse fly, and lateral raise.
Baseball is a sport that demands a lot from our joints. As we age, the wear and tear on our joints over the years can start to add up. A reduction in muscle mass may also make joints vulnerable. When conditioning, it is critical to protecting our joints by performing the right exercises and resting when necessary.