By Nunzio Signore (BA, CSCS, CPT, NASM, FMS)
The pitching police tend to fall into one of 2 categories. You have those that believe:
- You have only so many bullets in the gun “crowd”
- You can load as many bullets as you need.
The former tends to reside primarily in the northeast where weather plays a big part in forcing that decision whereas the latter tends to reside in the south and west, where warmer climates allow year-round throwing.
But when it comes to ramping up in preparation for the upcoming season, I believe there can be a happy medium of weekly throwing volume during the pre-season, but I will say this:
“Throwing once a week doesn’t allow the arm’s connective tissue to develop the resistance to a high-level throw. If you are a high-level thrower, it simply just doesn’t cut it.”
Let me explain.
As the season gets closer and you begin to throw harder, the soft tissue does not decide if it wants to participate or not. It can only respond to the stresses we have put on it during prior bullpens and/or throwing sessions. Therefore, adding an adequate amount of stress to the connective tissue will always force an adaptation that can make that tissue more resilient. This brings us to Davis’ Law.
Davis’ Law is used in anatomy and physiology to describe how soft tissue models itself along imposed demands. It simply states as follows:
“Ligaments, or any soft tissue, when put under even a moderate degree of tension, if that tension is unremitting, will elongate by the addition of new material; on the contrary, when ligaments, or rather soft tissue, remain uninterruptedly in a loose or lax state, they will gradually shorten, as the effete material is removed, until they come to maintain the same relation to the bony structures with which they are united that they did before their shortening.”
If you are planning on throwing only once a week during the off-season, you might want to read that statement again.
Only throwing 8-10 bullpens during the off-season (approximately 1x/week) is simply not enough. In March, when you start throwing hard more consistently, your disorganized connective tissue will be the most vulnerable to compromise. Combining this with an athlete who has gotten stronger and more explosive through a comprehensive off-season strength program can complicate things even further.
Combining disorganized connective tissue, unaddressed physical constraints, bio-mechanical inefficiencies, and poor preparation/ramp-up could create the perfect storm for tissue failure. This would explain some of the flood of arm injuries we see early in the spring as guys are starting to get it going. This holds especially true for younger less experienced athletes.
To sum it up, you must add an adequate amount of stress to those tissues if you plan to be a high-level thrower. Throwing 2x’s/week seems to reap better results in our gym. Like anything, the key is to add stress incrementally over time, gradually increasing the tissue’s ability to resist the stress being placed on it. So, when you’re ready to start your competitive season, your connective tissue will be better organized instead of starting basically from scratch.
See ya’ in the gym…