Pre season exercise recommendations for baseball and other throwing athletes

Given the subzero temperatures and 2+ feet of snow on the
ground, many of us are dreaming of 80 degree sunny days at the ballpark in
July.  For those of you with a history of
shoulder or elbow pain with throwing activities, or anyone who wants to prevent
missing out on a perfect game day in 3-4 months, the time is now to get your
arm ready for the season.


With the relatively short baseball/softball season that our
Minnesota weather allows, it is important that we do our preseason preparation
to have our arms ready for the season during times when being outside playing
catch is the furthest thing from our minds.
Thankfully the basic preventative shoulder exercises require very little
space, and minimal equipment.
Overuse and under-preparation for throwing activities is the
#1 factor that brings baseball/softball players into PT clinics in the spring
and summer.  Typically these injuries are
100% preventable by only a 10-15 minute exercise routine 3-4 times per week and
some common sense about how much throwing we do early in the season.  It is important to note though, those
preventative exercises must start 6-8 weeks prior to the onset of throwing
activities.  With the typical season
starting in mid-late April, that start date is now.
The two important sites for throwers to strengthen in the
preseason are the rotator cuff and the small muscles around the elbow.  A simple program of 4 rotator cuff exercises
and 3 elbow exercises are a great starting block for throwing athletes.
The 4 rotator cuff exercises are sidelying ER, scaption, shoulder
extension and shoulder horizontal abduction.
The elbow exercises are pronation/supination, wrist curls, and radial
deviation.  The pictures below show the 7
exercises, with both starting and ending positions.  It is important to do the exercises with
correct form as shown, with low weights (1-2 lbs max) and high repetitions (we
often recommend 3 sets of 30).
sidelying ER




shoulder extension


shoulder horizontal abduction
radial deviation


wrist curls




If you have pain with these exercises, or note pain with
throwing there may be a more serious injury and we recommend consulting with a
health professional.  At OSR, we offer
free injury screenings and can guide you in what is the correct next step for
your thrower’s shoulder or elbow pain.

This article was written by Ryan Koepp, DPT. He is the clinic director and treats patients at our Eden Prairie location.