Note: You should consult a healthcare professional before starting this or any exercise program to make sure the movements are right for your needs.
Planning to hit the diamond this summer? Whether it’s baseball, softball, or slow pitch, your warm up can help avoid injury and improve your performance.
Why is a warm up important for baseball, softball and slow-pitch?
The demands of sports like baseball, softball, and slow-pitch make warming up very important. The quick change of direction movements of base running and fielding, rotational movement of throwing and hitting, and the unnatural throwing techniques of these sports put immense stresses on the body. If not warmed up well, you may be at a higher risk of injury. Watch the video above or keep reading to learn about 8 warm up exercises you can do before a game of softball or baseball.
8 warm up exercises you can do in less than 20 minutes
1. Jog for 5-10 minutes
Get your sweat on! Your jog should elevate your body temperature to start increasing blood flow and get it ready for stretching and sport specific movement. Remember, this is a warm up and not a race. You should be able to hold a conversation while completing this portion.
2. High knees and butt kicks
These movements help your body get moving quickly and prepares for sprinting. While performing these exercises, arm movement is key. Keep your elbows bent and your arms pumping so they travel from “cheek to cheek;” your cheek and butt cheek.
For high knees, bring your knee up to hip level, switching legs as fast as you can. Repeat this process for butt kicks, but with bringing your heels to your buttocks. Complete each exercise for 30 seconds, in either place or moving forwards.
3. Trunk rotations
Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and extend your arms out to the sides. Now use your arms to build some momentum and help to twist your body left and right. Start slow, building into a larger range of motion. Repeat this exercise 5 times per side once at your largest range. This exercise can be key in getting ready for the trunk rotation that comes with swinging a bat and throwing.
4. Leg swings
Find a fence or a steady object that you can use to keep your balance. Turn to the side so the fence is next to your body. From this position, swing your leg forwards and backwards, starting to increase your range of motion as you go. Then, face the object, lift one leg out to the side and swing it towards the middle of your body like a pendulum.
Repeat for 5 repetitions per leg for each direction. This exercise can help to move your hip flexors and hamstrings actively through their range of motion to get you ready for sprinting.
5. Lunges with thoracic spine rotation
Step forwards, lowering into a deep lunge position with the back leg extended. Put your hands on the floor inside the front foot; rotate the trunk towards your front leg by reaching your free hand up and looking at your hand. Bring your hand back down, step into the next lunge and repeat the process.
Repeat this 5 times per side. This will help to prepare for the demands of getting low to field a ball and then quickly getting up to throw.
6. Arm circles
Extend both your arms out to the sides, and start making small circles in a forward's direction. Slowly increase the size of your circles until your arms make the biggest circles they possibly can, then do10 big circles, making sure this movement is controlled. Repeat this process in the backwards direction. This helps to get your shoulders ready for the rotational movements that come with throwing and hitting.
7. Side shuffle to sprint
It is time to really get moving. Start facing sideways and perform 3 side shuffles, transition into a sprint as quick as you can for about 30 feet. Repeat this facing the opposite direction as well. This can help you to get ready to sprint around those bases after a big hit.
8. Resistance band shoulder exercises
Keeping your shoulders healthy and stable is extremely important for upper extremity sports. Try using a light resistance band, or even no resistance at all, with these exercises during your next warm up for 1 set of 10 repetitions each direction.
Internal rotation with arm at side
External rotation with arm at side
Internal rotation with arm at shoulder height
External rotation with arm at shoulder height
Throwing and hitting create some difficult movements for your body. It is important to keep the shoulder strong and balanced to avoid injury.
You can do these exercises with a heavier band between games or practices to keep improving strength and help further prepare you for the demands of these sport specific movements.
If you do not have a resistance band lying around the house, you can find one at your closest dollar store.
Give these warm up exercises a shot before you start your sport-specific warm up activities like swinging and throwing. Remember to get your sweat on and prepare your body for these movements.
Let’s keep our bodies happy so we can keep playing the sports we love! To learn more about warm up activities, see one of our physical therapists. During an assessment, they can help you create a plan that fits your activity and your body’s needs, to help you perform at your best.
This blog was written by Katie Humhej, a physiotherapy student at the University of Toronto.