Baseball is known to be a heavily upper-body focused sport – aside from our catchers, of course – and it is imperative that we know how to stretch, warm up, and cool down the muscles in these areas. With the shoulders being of particular importance to the routine.
Create habits early when it comes to preparation and conditioning of our young athletes. We should all be aware of what stretching can do for our bodies. When we add these exercises, the body increases circulation and oxygen levels – which is a vital piece of restoring and repairing our muscles. So, if you’re someone who is using their upper body for the better part of practice and play, then these 12 shoulder exercises and stretches are for you.
A good starter exercise to get the upper body moving and working would be with some shoulder circles. It’s like the warm up before the warm up truly begins. It’s easy too – even the smallest can get this one knocked out quickly.
Directions: Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Your arms should be hanging by your sides in a relaxed manner. Move your shoulders up and back, creating slow circles.
Youtube Video – Shoulder Circles
Upper Trap Stretch
Relieve tightness in your shoulders with this stretch. It can easily be done while sitting or standing – and easily brought into a before practice or game warm up. Soreness and stiff areas will feel instant relief.
Directions: Take your right hand and lift it up over your head. You will then rest your hand on your left cheekbone. Do not pull on your head.
Youtube Video – Upper Trapezius Stretch
You will want to add this stretch into your routine as well. This will help your flexibility and the movement and strength of your back. It’s also a good one to use in both pre and post game warm up circles. Pair it with the flexion stretch.
Directions: There are multiple ways to complete successful shoulder extensions. The video below will show you how to do it without any equipment necessary but there are other variations that include utilizing a medicine band to add rigor and strength building.
Youtube Video – Shoulder Extension Stretch Exercise
After your extension, try the flexion! This too will help with your arm and back flexibility – which is exactly what baseball players need when throwing, catching, and hitting all day long. This is particularly useful for our pitchers.
Directions: Stand facing towards a wall. You will use the wall to slowly crawl your fingers up until you begin to feel a good stretch. Hold it for 30 seconds. Repeat.
Youtube Video – Shoulder Flexion Stretch Exercise
This exercise will help to stretch your deltoid (located in your shoulder. It’s one of the most simple but has name you may not be familiar with. Adduction just means “arm in front of the torso,” so don’t be alarmed, you’ve certainly done this stretch before without knowing it.
Directions: Standing with your feet shoulder-length apart, lift your arms out to your side. You will then slowly move your arms down to your side and back.
Youtube Video – Shoulder Adductions
Some rotations – external – will be another good stretch and exercise to add to the warm up routine as well. You will be moving away from the body with these and focusing on your shoulder as well as your torso. Loosen, strengthen, and provide even more flexibility while working on your 90 degree range of motion.
Directions: Stand with your elbows against your body and swing your forearms away from your core. You will repeat the movement.
Youtube Video – Shoulder External Rotation Stretch Demo
In direct contradiction to the exercise above, these are our internal rotations. Again, we focus on the shoulder and torso but we’re going the opposite way here to support all areas and angles.
Directions: You will begin with your elbows flexed at a 90-degree angle beside the body. Rotate the shoulder to bring the forearm and hand toward the body.
Youtube Video – Shoulder Internal Rotation Stretch Demo
Crossbody Shoulder Stretch
The back of your shoulders should be focused on when it comes to warming up and cooling down. Your deltoid area becomes less stressed and tight with this added stretch. Lifting, rotating, throwing and swinging all become easier over time.
Directions: Begin with your feet shoulder-width apart. Lift your right arm straight out in front of you. You will then bring your right arm across your body, bending the left arm at the elbow (creating a hook) to stretch the right arm. Hold this placement for 20 seconds each.
Youtube Video – Shoulder Crossbody Stretch
Arm Cross Rhomboid Stretch
This stretch is technically not your shoulder but it supports the areas around your shoulder – i.e. the rhomboid or upper back and neck. It will immediately relieve tension and make you feel looser! Full-range upper body mobility is crucial for baseball players, so focus on the areas that may not be as obvious.
Directions: You will start the stretch by crossing your arms in front of your chest (your hands should be around your shoulders). Once in this position, begin to stretch your hands to the center of your back. Hold this for 30 seconds. Repeat.
Youtube Video – Rhomboid Muscle Pain Stretches
Bicep Shoulder Stretch
The biceps and the shoulders are essential baseball areas – so make sure to test this stretch out as well. It’s a necessity.
Directions: You’ll need to find a sturdy post such as a wall, door, or fence. Hold your palm against the wall and turn your body away from it. You will immediately feel the stretch in your shoulder and arm. Hold this stretch for up to 30 seconds. Repeat.
Youtube Video – How to Stretch your Biceps
Overhead Triceps & Shoulder Stretch
Of course, the triceps should be given some love as well. Target all the areas that receive a lot of stress during game time so the areas are ready for action. And then, make sure to cool them down as well and lessen the risk for injury.
Directions: Start out by extending one arm to the ceiling. You will then bend the arm at the elbow, bringing the palm toward the center of your back and resting your middle finger along the spine. Use your opposite hand to push your elbow toward the center. Hold for up to 30 seconds. Repeat both sides.
Youtube Video – How to Stretch Your Triceps
The Child’s Pose stretch is a classic exercise that everyone should be doing on a daily basis. It targets all the major areas and will help you feel much more rejuvenated. Add this one to the last bit of your routine for the ultimate pick-me-up.
Directions: Begin by kneeling on the floor with your toes together and your knees kept hip-width apart. You will have your hand palm-down on your thighs. Breathe in. And once you exhale, lower your torso to the ground – between your knees. Extend your arms out keeping your palms to the ground. Relax your shoulders and rest.
Youtube Video – How to do Child’s Pose Stretch