The Effect of Intermittent Arm and Shoulder Cooling on Baseball Pitching Velocity

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Bishop, SH, Herron, RL, Ryan, GA, Katica, CP, and Bishop, PA. The effect of intermittent arm and shoulder cooling on baseball pitching velocity. J Strength Cond Res 30(4): 1027–1032, 2016—The throwing arm of a baseball pitcher is subjected to high stress as a result of the repetitive activity of pitching. Intermittent cryotherapy may facilitate recovery from this repeated high stress, but few researchers have investigated cryotherapy's efficacy in an ecologically valid setting. This study investigated the effects of intermittent cryotherapy on pitching velocity and subjective measures of recovery and exertion in a simulated baseball game. Trained college-aged male baseball pitchers (n = 8) threw 12 pitches (1 pitch every 20 seconds) per inning for 5 total innings during a simulated pitching start. Between each inning, pitchers received shoulder and arm cooling (AC) or, on a separate occasion, no cooling (NC). All sessions took place in a temperate environment (18.3 ± 2.8° C; 49 ± 4% relative humidity). Pitch speeds were averaged for each participant each inning and overall for 5 innings. Perceived exertion (rating of perceived exertion [RPE]) was recorded at the end of each simulated inning. Perceived recovery (perceived recovery scale [PRS]) was recorded after treatment between each inning. Mean pitching velocity for all-innings combined was higher (p = 0.04) for shoulder and elbow cooling (AC) (31.2 ± 2.1 m·s−1) than for no cooling (NC) (30.6 ± 2.1 m·s−1). Average pitch speed was significantly higher in the fourth (p = <0.01) and fifth (p = 0.02) innings in AC trial (31.3 ± 2 m·s−1 for both innings) compared with NC trial (30.0 ± 2.22 m·s−1 and 30.4 ± 1.99 m·s−1, for the fourth and fifth innings, respectively. AC resulted in a significantly lower RPE (p ≤ 0.01) and improved PRS (p ≤ 0.01) compared with NC. Intermittent cryotherapy attenuated velocity loss in baseball pitching, decreased RPE, and facilitated subjective recovery during a 5-inning simulated game.

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