Baseball players should stop lifting weights and change the way they are training. Immediately.
Weight lifting, and the other ‘modern day’ training methods, has done more damage to baseball players and, by extension, the game of baseball than ugly alternative uniforms, gambling, and even PEDs. The extra muscle and pumped up physiques may look better in the new style uniforms, but all of this added sinew has done little to improve the resiliency and long-term performance of the modern day ball player.
The epidemic of serious injuries to pitchers and everyday players can be blamed on training, over training and weight training. Players are experiencing injuries like oblique strains, torn latissimus muscles, biceps and forearm muscle and tendon injuries, and severe hamstring and calf injuries.
These soft tissue injuries are symptoms of other problems in, what’s known as, the kinetic chain. The kinetic chain describes a system where movement at one joint produces or affects movement at another joint. Pitching and throwing, and swinging a bat are movements produced by this system.
Photo: New York Post
So when a pitcher experiences a biceps injury and then a ‘lat’ injury this can’t be viewed as simply an ‘arm injury,’ and other parts of the chain need to be looked at in order to find the problem. The arm doesn’t throw the ball, the body does.
For a great example of how a breakdown in the kinetic chain can result in a catastrophic injury we can go back to the 1937 All-Star Game and Dizzy Dean’s left big toe. No, I’m not crazy.
Dizzy Dean was a hard throwing, dominant right handed pitcher for the St Louis Cardinals who was hit on the foot by a line drive while pitching in the All Star Game, hence the broken toe. Look him up in the Google Machine.
Photo: Texas State Historical Association
Dean came back too early from the injury, changed his mechanics so he didn’t land too hard on the broken toe, lost his fastball, hurt his shoulder – or hurt his shoulder, lost his fastball – and ultimately ended his career a shadow of his former, dominant self.
How is it that 80 years ago an injury that occurred in the body part furthest from the throwing arm of a pitcher is recognized as causing mechanics problems and a shoulder/arm injury, and yet a week ago the New York Mets general manager and manager both said a pitcher’s throwing arm biceps and ‘lat’ injuries were unrelated?
Photo: Amazin’ Avenue
Another Mets pitcher, Matt Harvey, had an ineffective start a week ago because he was unexpectedly asked to pitch a day early. He was shot from his workout, he said as a means of explaining his poor start.
If Harvey is following this kind of routine during the season, surely the other pitchers are. In light of the injury issues, questions need to be asked about exactly what these guys are doing on their day off.
A lot of time, effort and money have been spent on trying to figure out why pitchers keep blowing out their arms. Everything has been tried to ‘fix’ this problem. That’s how we got pitch counts and more days off during the season. But what good are pitch counts and days off from baseball if these athletes are training hard during the season and in between starts?
The Mets should be asked why a pitcher who has undergone two major surgeries on his pitching arm is allowed to work out this hard during the season.
Despite all of the efforts, Major League Baseball has engaged in practices that have made their players more fragile and, in this case, the Mets need to shoulder the responsibility for how they prepare their players to play baseball.
So what can be done?
For starters, teams need to go back to step one and strip their programs down and eliminate all the bells and whistles and fancy nonsense that we’ve seen ballplayers do in videos posted on social media. If the exercises aren’t specific they have no place in an athlete’s training program.
Rather than fitness busy work and body building-influenced garbage, treat players as if they are young kids; fundamental movement-based programs with lower volume, and higher intensity, and eliminate the vast majority of the weight room stuff, certainly the heavy lifting.
Photo; Muscle Prodigy
Body builders and weight lifters don’t play baseball.