Dynamic stretching for baseball is the most effective way to properly warm up the muscles, joints, and ligaments prior to throwing or strenuous exercise. The old fashion method of static stretching for pitchers has proven to be ineffective as a warm up, and may even reduce explosiveness in athletes.
Dynamic stretching can be defined as stretching through movement. Instead of hold a stretch for an alloted period of time, you will perform each dynamic stretch in repetitions.
Each type of stretching exercise will have your limbs moving in one way or another. Dynamic stretching will help you develop better overall flexibility, prevent injury during strenuous activity, and can greatly increase your range of motion which is vital for sports. These dynamic stretching exercises below will increase your heart-rate, and properly prepare your muscles for strenuous activity.
Remember, each of these dynamic stretches needs to be performed slow and under control to prevent any unnecessary injury.
Do not push yourself too far, and make sure you perform each exercise with an appropriate level of comfortability. These exercises are in no specific order or efficiency. So you will need to use your discretion on which ones you would like to use, but I chose many of my favorites because of their effectiveness.
Dynamic Stretching Exercises for Baseball
Before you perform any of the dynamic exercises, it’s important you get your blood flowing. Performing dynamic stretches completely cold could result in injury.
Most strength training programs will have you jog lightly for 5-10 minutes prior to dynamic stretching. You can also substitute jogging for the stationary bike. I also suggest using a foam roller prior to the jogging warm-up if possible.
Just make sure that this portion of the warm up does not exceed more than 10 minutes. Its only purpose is to get your blood flowing and your muscles prepared for the subsequent stretching.
1. Side-to-Side Neck Stretch
While standing you will bend your neck to the left and hold for 1-2 seconds. The bend to the right, and repeat. Perform 8-10 reps per side.
2. Downward Flexion
With your shoulder relaxed, you will bend your down straight down so that your chin almost reaches your chest. Hold for 1-2 seconds, return to the starting position, and repeat 8-10 times.
3. Neck Rotations
While looking foward, move your head down into the flexion position, then rotate to your left shoulder, then rotate your head so that you are looking at the sky and the back of your head is almost touching your upper back, continue to the right shoulder, and back to starting position. Perform five rotations each way.
Rotator Cuff Stretching
4. Arm Circles
This is one of the best dynamic stretches for warming up the rotator cuff. You will simply rotate your arms forward in a circular motion beginning with 5 small, then 5 medium sized, and lastly 5 large rotations. Perform this warm up in a controlled and slow manner. Immediately following the forward rotations, proceed with reverse rotations beginning with large rotations first, medium second, and small last.
Pitchers can use variation with this dynamic stretching exercise by changing your hand positions. The first set of forward and reverse rotations will be with your thumbs facing the sky to simulate a curveball grip. The second set of rotations will be with your palms facing the ground to simulate a fastball grip.
Lastly, the third set will have your thumbs facing the ground to simulate a changeup grip. Perform each set with 15 repetitions forward and backward. This dynamic stretch will ensure that your rotator is properly prepared for throwing.
5. Arm Swings
While standing straight up, you will then swing one arm up over your head with a controlled motion. Then repeat with the other arm. Perform ten repetitions on each arm. This will help warm-up the rotator cuff and upper back.
6. Baseball-Specific Rotator Cuff Warm-up
This is one of the best ways to warm up the rotator cuff for baseball pitchers and anyone who is participating in any athletic activity. This warm-up involves three sets of ten repetitions.
Start with your elbow bent at 90 degrees, tucked against your side. Your palms should be facing down to simulate a fastball grip. You will then move your elbows back and forth in small movements. Perform ten under control reps.
You will then repeat this same motion except your thumbs will be facing the sky to simulate a curveball grip. Perform ten more under control reps.
The last one motion will be with your palm facing up. Perform all 30 reps in a row.
Lower & Upper Back Stretching
This is an excellent dynamic exercise for warming up the lower back. Often times, baseball pitchers neglect warming up their back, but this can be detrimental because the low and upper back is heavily utilized during the pitching delivery.
- Lay on your stomach with your arms extended out at shoulder height.
- Slowly bring one leg over the top of your back toward your opposite hand.
- Slowly return back to starting position.
- Alternate each side back and forth.
- Try to keep your stomach and arm planted on the ground while performing the exercise. 10 repetitions for each side will be sufficient enough for this exercise.
This is going to be a three part dynamic stretch. You perform this exercise just like how you would with weights and it will help to warm up your upper back and neck.
- Arms and hands pressed up against your side
- Simply raise your shoulders straight up until you feel a squeeze
- Lower them back down slowly
- In the second part of the dynamic exercise, you will bring your shoulders straight up like the other exercise except you will roll your shoulders backwards. On the last variation you will simply roll your shoulders forward. Perform each portion of the stretch 10 times.
9. Bear Hug
This dynamic exercise will warm up your upper back, and your posterior rotator cuff muscles.
- Start with your arms to your sides at shoulder height
- You will then interlock both arms
- Your hands will grasp the back of your shoulders
- Hold this position for 2-3 seconds
- Slowly return back to the starting position
10. Side Bends
Simply bend to one side bring over the top of your head. You will feel a stretch in the lats, and lower back. Repeat 10 times on each side.
11. Hand walks
This is an excellent dynamic stretch for warming up your hamstrings, but it is also very difficult. Perform this exercise for 10 repetitions.
- While standing, bend over until you are able to put both of your hands flat on the ground.
- Slowly bring body down to the floor, almost in a pushup position.
- While keeping your legs at straight as possible, inch your feet towards your hands
- Once you are back in starting position, repeat.
12. Single Leg Toe Touches
This dynamic exercise will be performed just like how you would finish a pitch in baseball. Really stretches out, and warms up the hamstrings.
- Step forward with one foot
- Bring the opposite hand to your toe
- Your other leg should be in the air, and your back should be flat
- Switch back and forth for 10 reps on each leg
13. Straight Leg Kick
This dynamic exercise will warm up your hamstrings, and your hip joints. One of the best dynamic stretches hands downs.
- While standing straight up, take one step forward.
- Kick your leg straight up
- Lower it back down
- It’s important that you perform this exercise very slowly. Kick upward and downward in a slow and controlled motion. Your leg should only go up as high as it feels comfortable. Don’t over do it. Perform 10 repetitions for each leg.
14. Leg Swings
Find something to place on like a wall. You will then bring one leg in front the other, and swing it sideways and then back across. This will warm-up the hips. Perform 10 reps on each side.
15. Walking Lunge
Dynamic exercise that effectively warms up the hamstrings, glutes, quads, and groin. It is a necessity component to any dynamic stretch routine.
- Start in a standing position
- Lunge forward with one leg
- Keep your body straight while in the lunge position, and do not lean forward
- Return back to starting position
- Lunge out with the opposite leg
- Repeat this exercise for 10 repetitions for each leg. Lunge out slow, and controlled.
16. Side Lunge
This dynamic stretch will warm up your groin, quads, glutes, hips, and hamstrings.
- Start in a standing position
- Lunge your leg directly out to your side
- Return to starting position
- Repeat with same leg until you finish 10 repetitions and then switch
17. Walking Quad Pull
Simple exercise that will effectively stretch and prepare your quads and hip flexors for exercise. This will be one of the only dynamic stretches that resembles static stretching.
- Take one step forward
- Grab one foot and pull it towards your glutes
- Hold the stretch for 2-3 seconds and release
- Switch legs
- Perform this stretch 10 times per leg
18. Butt Kicks
This is a simple, but great dynamic exercise that will warm up your quads, hip flexors, hamstrings, and knee joints.
- Find an area that is clear for 10 yards.
- Proceed forward bring your heels to your glutes.
- Slow and controlled motion
- Go the length of 10 yards and back
- Don’t forget to pump your arms!
19. Over the Fence
Great dynamic stretch to warm up your hips.
- Start in a stand position
- Lift one leg straight up
- Rotate the leg out and around as if you were stepping over a fence.
- Repeat with other leg
- Perform 10 repetitions for each leg
- You are going backwards through this whole exercise
Once you have completed your repetitions, you will then do the opposite:
- Lift one leg to your side
- Rotate it around to the front of your body as if you were stepping over a fence
- Repeat with other leg
- Perform 10 repetitions for each leg
- You are moving forward through the whole exercise
20. High Knees
Difficult exercise to categorize because of how many different muscles it targets. This dynamic stretch will target the hips, hip flexors, quads, hamstrings, and the groin.
- Find an open space of about 10 yards
- Identical to running form except you are lifting your knees much higher, aim for above your waist
- Try to get explosion off the ground, and perform the exercise relatively fast but under control
- 10 yards and back is sufficient
For more in-depth dynamic stretching for baseball, you should check out Dynamic Stretching: The Revolutionary New Warm-Up.