TCB Daily Boil: Strength and Conditioning in Baseball

Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Subber10 continues his look at player development issues as it relates to injuries.

The world of health and fitness is filled with "experts".  I use the term experts loosely because, well, they obviously do.  I've heard a very successful personal trainer tell a client that by having her close her eyes and stand on one leg, she was able to test the client's core strength.

Let's just say I had to stop what I was doing. I won't go into the reasoning of why this "expert" was wrong, unless you REALLY want to talk about it. That would be a post for another time, and not really applicable to Astros baseball.

But, this is baseball! Teams are invested in their players success and will/should do anything to make their players better. However, we aren't far removed from organizations telling their players to do P90x during the off-season.

Note: No offense to P90x, it's not a bad program for most, however I don't recommend it active people, and definitely not for high level athletes. A good Strength and Conditioning (S&C) program would be light years better.

Despite all the research that comes out regularly in the fields of Exercise Physiology, Physical Therapy, Biomechanics, ect, we still have prominent baseball minds blaming the field of S&C for baseball injuries. Eric Cressey of Cressey Performance has a blog and he recently made a post discrediting that "dogma."

It's worth noting that there are three Astros minor leaguers that Cressey Performance clients. They are Jordan Jankowski, Matt Heidenreich, and Tommy Shirley. I also have one of Eric's videos bookmarked that I refer to every single overhead athlete or regular gym-goer that complains of the slightest shoulder pain that I talk to.

Cressey does a great job of turning the pointed finger back at baseball for what is really an absurdly long season as well as the terrible idea of taking the off-season, well off, like many old-school minds think.

This isn't a simple problem with a simple solution. Nobody is completely to blame for any of it. The fitness and S&C community has it's faults, which Cressey recognizes. There's a reason Cressey has been able to make his company successful in a seemingly saturated market. The cream rises to the top in that field, and Cressey knows the human body and how it reacts very well. But, the majority out there do not.  And the majority of "trainers" facilitate poor movement patters in exercise which set up some athletes for failure.

But, that's why these players need to be in good S&C programs and not just staying active on their own with P90x. If a trainer gets it wrong, a player will more than likely do the same.  This field isn't easy and I wouldn't expect an athlete with either just a high school education or at most a college education to know as much on movement patterns and S&C as a high end performance coach.

And taking the off-season off is just as bad, if not worse. Our bodies know how much muscle mass it needs to have to perform it's activities. If you've ever taken part in a long-term resistance training program and stopped, you know how quickly you lose that strength.  Same goes for an elite athlete.  So, let them lose their strength and then have them start training again about 4-6 weeks out from Spring Training? Sounds like a plan!

It takes 6-8 weeks for a muscle to start going through hypertrophy after starting a resistance training program. So, an athlete who loses muscle mass by taking a break in the off-season won't start rebuilding said lost muscle. That's already during Spring Training when he should be amping up his work loads and fine tuning things, not rebuilding muscle. That athlete is setting himself up for strains and fatigue as his body will likely not be ready to go.

As injuries continue to be a hot subject, fingers continue to get pointed. It's a complex issue, but S&C programs at the elite level like Cressey Performance are not the issue. Low quality trainers and front offices that are stuck in the past are the real issue.

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