If you’ve ever been to a baseball game, from Little League to the Big Leagues, you’ve probably seen the pitcher icing their elbow and/or shoulder after they pitch.
Baseball has changed a lot in the advancement of data and sports science, so the question becomes ‘how beneficial is it to ice after you pitch’?
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU ICE?
First thing is first, let’s understand what icing does and why pitchers use it. Icing any part of your body does two things:
- Reduces swelling & inflammation by slowing blood flow to the area being iced.
- Increases blood flow to the area after, bringing healing nutrients to repair the muscle.
When you throw, you damage the muscles involved just like you would when you lift weights—breaking down the muscle so it is stronger when it rebuilds and rejuvenates. Reducing inflammation is the primary purpose of icing your arm after pitching. However, elongated icing can hinder recovery time by limiting blood flow. Therefore, you should only ice 15-20 minutes at a time and then let blood flow back to the injured area to provide nutrients to the muscle.
TOP 3 REASONS TO ICE
Everyone’s body and arm respond differently after pitching, so it is imperative to listen to body and pay attention to how you feel after you pitch. Some pitchers need longer rest and others can bounce back quickly. The three reasons that pitchers should ice are:
ICE IT RIGHT
You should ice immediately once the game is over, right after a bullpen in practice, or after an intense long-toss session. Icing to reduce acute inflammation works best if it’s within 30-60 minutes of the trauma or intense exertion.
After that 60-minute window, the body needs to start repairing the muscle by way of blood flow. This gives you enough time to do some light resistant band exercises before icing the muscle down.
If you’re not in college or don’t have a trainer on-call during games, then a great way to always have ice with you is our Cryosleeve for pitchers. It stays cold up to an hour and has 360-degree compression.