Contributed by Jennifer Davies, special to MSBL
Baseball is a sport that can help you stay fit, but it can take a toll on a player’s muscles and bones. Rotator cuff injuries remain the most common injury among baseball players. However, this doesn’t have to be the case. Multiple studies have pointed to the benefits of massage to muscle health in the past, with one study finding that muscles recover up to 60 percent faster with regular massage. A massage should be widely considered to be downright essential for anyone who plays baseball in a professional or semi-professional capacity. Its simple yet effective benefits can even give you enough endurance to weather daunting matchups against more skillful players.
Muscle and Bone Health Are Just as Important as Training
Anyone serious about a sport should also be serious about their musculoskeletal health. This is especially true for a sport as demanding on a player’s extremities as baseball. Massage therapy is an invaluable tool for promoting this type of health. With so much time spent in training the muscles and bones needed to excel in the sport, it’s only right to take the time to rejuvenate these muscles to ease the tension and pain from training.
Pitchers are particularly strained in terms of muscular and skeletal strength because of their role. Each pitch requires a sizable amount of force, and they are especially hard on the shoulders and wrists. These are two key joints that are essential for virtually any role in the sport of baseball. Not taking adequate care of your muscles and bones can spell an early end for your career.
How Massage Preserves Musculoskeletal Health
A healthy pitching arm is defined by well-developed stabilization muscles such as the pectorals, dorsals, and scapular muscles. These muscles maximize the shoulder’s range of movement and power output. Meanwhile, batters and catchers rely more on their elbows, backs, and legs. Massage provides the longevity they need to keep performing their rigorous, repetitive motions that require a high degree of coordination. It does this by releasing the tension built up during training with a gentle, rhythmic expansion and contraction. This coaxes out toxins such as lactic acid, thus allowing nutrients to pour in and repair the tissue. Without the hindrance of toxins, microtears, and built-up fatigue, the muscles will take longer to get tired, which allows for more endurance on the field and more efficient musculoskeletal development. This also prevents cramping and numbness.
Since massage encompasses the whole body, all of the important muscles are treated to this detoxification and refreshment. This helps avoid the problem of weakening the Kinetic Chain, the string of muscles stretching from the feet to the hand that controls movement. This chain is responsible for the velocity of actions such as pitching, catching, running, and batting. This is why massage is such a potent boost that any baseball player would do well to take advantage of. While not everyone has the money or time for a regular massage, there are still competent alternatives to good full-body treatment. Gadgets like the massage gun provide the same benefits that an actual massage will give you, albeit with slightly less efficacy. Still, the convenience and portability of a massage gun make it a solid substitute for a well-trained masseuse.
Massage Ensures Each Muscle is In-Sync With Each Other
Here is a mental picture to help you fully understand how a good massage works wonders for your plays. Take pitching for example. In general, a pitch begins with a windup and two distinct cocking stages, all of which depend on the synchronicity between the pelvis and upper body. This is followed by an upper-body explosion broken up by rapid acceleration and sudden deceleration, plus a follow-through motion to soften the shock from the snap. All of these micro-actions intricately blend into one another, requiring an immense degree of bodily harmony.
If even one muscle fails due to overwork or whatever other reason, the entire process is thrown off. A fairly experienced player may be able to weather these slight offsets, but enough of them can compound, resulting in a noticeable slip-up. Massage greatly decreases the likelihood of such a thing happening. By keeping each of these important muscles in top shape, you ensure that you can perform each complex, multilayered action needed to excel at baseball without a hitch.
Almost every star player has a ritual and lucky charms to get them through even the toughest of games. Having massage as one of your self-care habits gives you a science-backed edge. By ensuring that your musculoskeletal system is constantly fine-tuned, you put yourself ahead of the curve by protecting yourself against fatigue and other bodily shortcomings.