Should Pitchers Ice After Pitching?
Growing up in a baseball family for me had a lot of benefits. I had a Father who pitched professionally for 7 years with the Detroit Tigers Organization so I had instruction, insight and direction that many kids didn’t have growing up.
One important bit of information that my Dad always preached to me is that, “you only have one body, and as a pitcher you only have one arm, so take care of it!”
I can remember little league all the way through high school, coming home from a game and my Dad advising me to ice my arm.
I never thought I was ever sore enough to ice my arm, but to appease my Dad and develop a routine for preventative arm care I followed his advice. I was on my way to years of icing in order to remain healthy right?
Important: Questions about personal health should always be referred to a physician or other health care professional.
My name is Chris Bootcheck, and I am a retired right-handed pitcher of 15 years, parts of 7 seasons in the Major Leagues (Angels, Pirates, Yankees), and I am one of the few players who came into the game and also left the game with no surgical scars.
Like many professional players, especially those in AAA on the cusp of Major League opportunities, much of what our bodies try to tell us has to fall on deaf ears.
Instead we convince ourselves we can “make it to the All-Star Break”, or battle symptoms until the season is over. Most people, even other athletes do not understand how demanding a baseball schedule is and what players endure to do it for one season, not to mention have a career doing it year after year.
In baseball there are no options to be hurt, no time to take a doctors advice and rest for 4-6 weeks, and also there is no timetable available to fully recover.
So the chosen alternative is to “out milli-gram” your physical issues, or simply manage them as long as you can and still perform.
With this being said, throughout my career I saw many devices come and go for pain management, warm-up and quicker recovery. Some of these options made sense, but were gone before you knew it.
One thing that stood the test of time was ice. When in doubt ice it right?
Not so Fast.
A valuable Introduction
In 2012 while playing with the Detroit Tigers Organization I was asked by a trainer for the first time, “Have you always iced?” I politely answered “yes”. The conversation stopped there and we both parted ways.During that season I came across a product called, MarcPro. It stands for Muscle, Activated, Recovery, Cascade. It can be found at www.marcpro.com I know, like many other players, I had taken my share of anti inflammatory medication, spent hours icing, heating, graduating from icy hot, to thermagesic rub, to redhot, and finally to ATOMIC BALM.
At times I felt like a walking medicine cabinet, and it worked for me, but I knew there had to be a better alternative to take advantage of time in my schedule to recover.
I found this alternative in MarcPro.
Baseball is a sport that evolves very quickly, and players now are taking better care of themselves, training and eating for performance, not out of desperation. It is not uncommon to see players meal prepping; bringing their own meals to the field, where food is already provided and players pay for.
The point is, players are becoming more involved in their performance, recognize their bodies as their tool for success and choose to research and invest in their nutrition, their training, and also their recovery.
It was because of my own evolving and research that led me to MarcPro.
Now a performance consultant for MarcPro, I have learned valuable information on how recovery happens, and how to achieve it at a much faster rate and so have 100 other professional sports teams. With my position I have the opportunity to provide a product and information to athletes that is proven.
I have seen the benefits personally, and have the opportunity to positively impact the career of others and maybe even help them reach performance goals they have never achieved.
Ice vs. Active Recovery
Everyone has heard the term R.I.C.E. It stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. It was a phrase that was researched and coined by Dr. Gabe Mirkin, (an author of a best selling “Sportsmedicine Book”.)
After being exposed to the research and results of MarcPro, Dr. Mirkin actually retracted his support of the benefits of R.I.C.E. and instead replaced them with information about how ice can actually delay the healing process.
Simply put, if anyone knows anything about a severed limb, they know the first thing to do is to take the severed limb and put it on ice in order to close the capillaries and restrict blood loss, with hopes of keeping the tissue from bleeding out, dying and unable to reattach.
In the routine of a pitcher it is protocol to have a “flush run” the day after in order to actively recover through activity and the circulation of nutrient rich blood supported by your heart.
This process serves to routinely circulate blood filled with nutrition and oxygen that is needed in order for muscles to recover. If circulation is gain of a “flush run” for recovery, and the product of ice is to close capillaries and restrict circulation, it brought me to ask myself why would I ever ice in order to help my pitching arm to recover faster?
With this research, in 2012 I chose to put my baseball career in the hands of MarcPro. The science was well supported, physiologically it allowed my body to not be introduced to anything it didn’t already do on it’s own, and for me it was a game-changer, and a decision I would make time and time again. My only regret is that I was not able to take advantage of the product earlier in my career.
How does MarcPro work?
There are four main factors that regulate muscle recovery in adequately hydrated, nourished, and rested individuals: (1) the bringing in of nourishment and other supplies; (2) the removal of waste; (3) the production and release of myokines; and (4) the remodeling of the repaired tissue.
Only active recovery can accomplish all of these goals as muscle activation is the fundamental facilitator of the four processes noted above.
When skeletal muscles are amply activated, they send a message to the smooth muscles that surround the blood vessels to relax. Once relaxed, the blood vessels dilate (widen) and circulation increases.
Next, let’s look at the process of lymphatic drainage. First and foremost, it is important to recognize that the lymphatic system is passive, meaning that the movement of waste is nearly fully dependent upon the activation of the muscles that surround the lymphatic vessels. Muscle activation is needed to push waste through the complex mechanical marvel that is our lymphatic system.
Then the muscle activation of active recovery provides the needed mechanical stress to facilitate the production and release of myokines; which drives the tissue regeneration process.
Lastly, repaired muscle tissue cannot optimally remodel without mechanical stress.
Failure to optimally remodel the repaired muscle tissue leads directly to dysfunctional movement. Active recovery provides the needed mechanical stress to optimally remodel the repaired muscle tissue.
So if muscle activation through active recovery is the only way to accomplish all of the goals needed for ideal recovery; then what’s the best way to actively recover?
One of the biggest misconceptions about technology and devices like MarcPro is they think they are all the same, only for trainers, and training room modalities, or for use only after injuries have taken place.
One thing important in noting is that most injuries happen when players are fatigued or at the end range of their physical capacity.
In order to perform at peak physical levels, or what people refer to as 100% of what they have that day, recovery is crucial.
MarcPro serves as a modality that can be used to warm-up, and for added active recovery that can be part of any athlete’s daily routine.
One factor that is haunting, to professional athletes as well as amateur athletes, is overuse.
MarcPro implemented as part of any routine will simply make 100% of what you have each day more than you ever expected. The philosophy at MarcPro is there is no reason for overuse; to MarcPro overuse is simply a term that means under-recovered.
What is active recovery (AR) exactly?
Traditional active recovery can be very helpful, but the reality is that traditional active recovery isn’t always good, it can actually make you worse, and even at its very best it is extremely limited.
Traditional active recovery might include a light ride on a stationary bike, walk, or sub-maximal swim.
If active recovery is too aggressive or you do it for too long you’ll actually cause more fatigue as opposed to recovering. Too much active recovery also puts strain and stress on other parts of your body that weren’t even part of your original problem.
If your active recovery is too minimal it is simply ineffective.
And some muscles are almost impossible to perform active recovery on. Even if you find the perfect level of (AR) and do everything right, your success is inherently limited.
What happens when you’ve completed your (AR), but you aren’t fully recovered? You’d like to recover more, but any more AR will start stressing your body and cause further fatigue. You have to stop and be happy with what you have achieved. In addition to that, more active recovery requires more running, more biking or more laps in the pool!!
So what is needed for the perfect active recovery?
- Active recovery that is substantial enough to get all of the physiological processes going (increased blood flow, increase lymphatic drainage, mechanical stress needed to facilitate repair and remodeling, etc.).
- Active recovery that will never cause more fatigue. Active recovery that won’t put stress or strain on any part of your body.
- Active recovery that you can do to any muscle of your body.
- Active recovery that is unlimited; the more you need or want the more you can get.
- Active recovery that is easy, comfortable, and convenient.
As a former MarcPro user this answer is easy. MarcPro. There is no method, process or product that I have come across or used personally that compares to the recovery benefits of MarcPro.
Throughout my career I have had many people positively influence me, none more than my own Father. He simply knew what was best for me because he had been down the path that I was embarking on myself.
I look back now and find it ironic that I was introduced to a product that allowed me to successfully pursue my dream for much longer than other players within the same organization my father played for.
For me, as a performance consultant, I know MarcPro can provide the same benefits for other people, whether they are striving to earn a college scholarship, or even aspiring to become a major league player.
I want to conclude with a quote I heard from long-time, former Detroit Tigers Manager Jim Leyland, “It’s not always the best players in the Major Leagues, or the best teams that are standing in the end with a championship, it’s the healthiest.”
All the Best,
PS. If you are interested in purchasing a Marc Pro device for your facility or home use, this code will both provide you with a 5% discount as well as help to support the 100’s of pages of free baseball instruction from the pros here on Pro Baseball Insider:
Use this code for a 5% discount at Marc Pro: pbiRecover