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Structure and Routine

Another area of concern for sports physical therapists when it comes to an athlete’s structure and routine is the athlete not having any at all. While I was a PT with the Twins, I saw this issue arise consistently. Guys had no idea how many throws/swings they would rack up in a day or week. What’s worse, they had no concept of relative intensity. The result? 


Spoiler: they’d spend a chunk of the season in rehab with me treating some of the most common baseball injuries. 


But what does relative intensity even mean? Relative intensity means alternating the amount of stress/work in any given training day. The scientific term for this is undulation. 




Imagine a professional pitcher building up for the season. Instead of throwing a max effort bullpen every day, many professional relievers structure their week like this:


  • “Day before” (a light day in preparation for the heavy day)

  • “Day of” (bullpen or heavy day)

  • “Day after” (a medium intensity recovery day)


Below is a very basic template of how a pro reliever structures his work week coming back from an arm injury. This obviously depends on several factors - especially the rotation - but the idea is to separate work days into light/medium/heavy intensity. As with everything there are caveats and exceptions. However this is generally how to get the most out of training and prevent the most common injuries in baseball:

This applies to position players, too. You should not be long-tossing and taking 300 swings on one day, lifting heavy the next day, then playing in a double-header on the third day. 


Undulation prevents injury and improves performance because it allows for your tissues to heal and for your brain to process new skills. Your training should be like a predictable roller coaster - not a never ending NASCAR race. 

What’s the Point?

You may be thinking “Edwin, all of this research is based on injured guys. I’m healthy.”




When a baseball player is injured, physical therapists and athletic trainers follow all of these concepts to get them back on the field. Why wait until you’re injured to take advantage of all this knowledge?

Here’s what you’ve learned so far to prevent shoulder and elbow pain as a baseball player:

  • Get at least 8 hours of sleep

  • Dial in your diet and hydration

  • Find good mental headspace

  • Don’t red-line your workouts every day

  • Create a predictable roller coaster-like routine
Edwin Porras
Post by Edwin Porras
Mar 14, 2024 4:06:32 PM