Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Scientific Reason Why Baseball Pitchers Should Never Ice Their Arms

If you watch an MLB pitcher right after he pitches you will more than likely see his throwing shoulder and elbow wrapped in ice.   Is this really such a good idea?  No it’s not.  And not all pitchers ice after they pitch.

Some do what is referred to as active recovery, which will prove to be a far better alternative to protecting and helping a pitcher’s arm recover faster with less chance of injury.  We have been providing a product for the pitching arm that not only helps get it warmed up before pitching but with 5 simple exercises after…it helps the pitching arm recover faster.  That is something all sports medicine docs believe to be valuable.

Should Baseball Pitchers Ever Ice Their Arms?

So should any pitcher ever use ice?  The answer is not according to the science or the doctor who first started recommending icing back in the 70’s.

So I would say that a pitcher should never ever ice his pitching arm under any circumstances including after an injury.  Even if he tears his ligament or rotator cuff or labrum.

In fact,  not just pitching arms but sprained ankles or any other injury you can think of.  Do not ice for swelling. Do not ice for inflammation.  Ice does not do a very good job reducing swelling.

Do not ice for reducing inflammation.  Why? Because inflammation is one of the ways that the body starts the healing process.  We could also say that anti-inflammatory drugs are not a good idea since they stop the natural process of healing.  The body knows how to do it much better.  Remember – active recovery.

Ice is also sometimes used for pain.  But do you really want to stop the signal from the brain to the injured site…which could actually cause more injury because you could not feel it.
Thus we can say that the doctors are wrong and have been wrong for over 30 years.  So haven’t MLB pitchers and trainers.

As a former professional starting pitcher I used to drop my elbow in a bucket of ice because I saw Sandy Koufax doing it.  Thus we might say that is not a good idea to copy what professional pitchers do. Including what they do on and off the field.

This is also true of long toss which was proven not to improve velocity but to increase the stress to the elbow.  The study was released in Jan 2011 by the American Sports Medicine Institute in Birmingham, AL.  Yes MLB, college and high school pitchers use it as a regular practice routine.  Yet it has proven to be detrimental.

I had an expert on icing in my office recently.  He has written a book on why icing is not such a good idea.

His name is Gary Reinl. I met Gary through my blog.  He is a walking encyclopedia on why icing is a very bad idea for baseball pitchers.

He posted the following comment on my blog about my article I posted years ago titled –  The Myth of Baseball Pitchers Icing: Ice Is Not Nice

Listen to what Gary has to say.  Then look below and read the article by Dr. Gabe Mirkin, who started the belief about icing over 30 years ago.  Do you remember RICE? (rest, ice, compression, elevation).  Dr. Mirkin coined the term.  He has recently recanted his advice on icing.

Gary Reinl:

“Since the “icepack” actually makes things worse (it delays healing, increases swelling, causes additional damage, shuts of the  signals that alert you to harmful movement and provides false  hope … you believe that you are doing something good when in fact you are doing the opposite) … doing nothing is actually better than icing.

What’s best?

Lightly activate the muscles that are tired and or sore. (First Pitch Strike Warm-up and Recovery…I added that which is what we recommend pitchers do after pitching to reduce recovery time) Muscle activation or “active recovery” is not only the best way to facilitate the healing process …it is, in essence, the key to tissue regeneration. And, absolute stillness is the proverbial enemy.

How did we get to the point where reducing swelling and  inflammation via icing are seen as good things?

First of all … icing damaged tissue does not reduce swelling or inflammation. Delay it yes. Increase it yes. Reduce it no.

It all started back in 1962 when a doctor named Ronald Malt reattached the severed limb of a 12 year old boy named  Everett Knowles. Since this was the first operation of its kind, it made big news around the world.

When asked by reporters what is the best way to protect the severed body part while traveling to the hospital, the doctor responded something like this; keep it out of the sun, keep it cool; “put it on ice” if possible.

Over the years, the public converted the doctor’s very specific recommendation that aptly applied to “severed” body parts to put ice on damaged tissue. Soon the myth took hold and the ice age was born.

Interestingly, the godfather of the “ice age”, Gabe Mirkin, MD, recently recanted his decades-old recommendation and now says that “icing” damaged tissues delays healing.

Gary’s book:

ICED! The Illusionary Treatment Option: Learn the Fascinating Story, Scientific Breakdown, Alternative, & How To Lead Others Out Of The Ice Age by Gary Reinl

Here is a article by Dr. Gabe Mirkin –  Why Ice Delays Recovery

Dr Mirkin was one of the very first doctors to recommend icing.  He has since retracted his advice on icing.

There is a hidden message here.  It says to stop copying what others believe to be beneficial including copying MLB pitchers.  They may know how to pitch but it does not mean they know how to strength train and condition or how to protect their throwing arms.

Article Source: http://www.pitching.com/blog/scientific-reason-baseball-pitchers-never-ice-arms/

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