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Work Harder and Smarter

As mentioned here, every physical and mental movement a person undergoes is considered part of their workload. Listen, I get it. You want to outwork the competition but the bottom line is that one more bullpen or one more set of plyos or one more cage session is probably doing more harm than good. Especially if you’re already fatigued and especially if you already have physical limitations like bad shoulder/elbow strength and mobility.

Sidebar: Want a customized maintenance plan to prevent injuries in the first place? Call us to set up an injury prevention program designed jus for you.

Now, does that mean you should never work hard? Of course not. 

Research shows that tolerating extremely high workloads - uncomfortable levels of hard work - for a brief period can be a good thing. But your training program should be designed in a way that exposes you to hard work safely. 


Physical therapist, Dr. Mike Reinold, and his team created this throwing program for MLB pitchers with arm injuries. They did so by following the 0.7 to 1.3 principle. These numbers come from years of workload-related research in many other sports. Long story short, big swings in workloads can lead to nearly double the injury risk among athletes.

Workload management to prevent common baseball injuries


This study is hot off the presses by a baseball physical therapist and thought leader Mike Reinold:


These graphs show daily throw count and overall workloads over time. You’ll notice that the trend is smooth and never takes a sharp turn in either direction. This is the most logical way to attempt to prevent common baseball injuries in baseball players.



A professional reliever is rehabbing from a shoulder injury and is now in week 1 of his mound progression. In the first week on the mound, he’s scheduled to throw 2 bullpens for a total of 44 pitches.


By Week 5, that means, ideally, he doesn’t surpass ~58 total pitches from the bump (AKA no more than 30% of the volume from week 1).




By Week 5, that means, ideally, he doesn’t throw any less than ~35 total pitches from the mound (AKA at least 70% of the volume from week 1).

Now, there are approximately one million considerations here that this mini example doesn’t take into account. Here are a few:

  • Athlete age
  • Warmup throws/rehab work
  • Injury history
  • In-game max velocity
  • Perceived effort
  • Elbow torque
  • Build up volume to bullpen
  • Self recovery reports
  • Objective strength/mobility data
  • Diet/hydration
  • Sleep quality
  • Outside stressors
  • Player goals
  • Team goals
  • Alternative pitches
  • Time of year
  • Strength and conditioning program and goals

As you can guess, this is a very, very watered down version of a complex topic but athletes with minimal to no resources should follow these general workload rules:

1. Don’t do too much too soon (no more than 30% of the previous 4 weeks)

2. Don’t let activity dip below a baseline level (at least 70% of the previous 4 weeks)

3. Ramp up at a pace that gradually increases your work

Edwin Porras
Post by Edwin Porras
Mar 14, 2024 3:59:17 PM