The baseball season is a long grind. So how do players prepare their bodies
for extended stretches of physical activity, and what lessons can you take
away as your body shifts from winter hibernation to warm-weather action?
“It starts with a healthy diet,” says
Dr. Arun Ramappa
, Chief of
Sports Medicine and Shoulder Surgery
at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. “What pro athletes put into their
body is just as important as what they do with their body.”
The rest of us are no exception. Preparing your body for a more active
lifestyle means paying attention to what you eat and having a consistent
“A healthy diet is balanced and varied: plenty of greens, fresh fruits, and
vegetables," says Ramappa. "It’s as simple as eating what you know you
should be eating and avoiding all the processed, high sugar, high salt
It’s also important to get the right amount of sleep, he adds: “A healthy
diet and healthy sleep patterns are complementary habits that can help both
professional athletes and weekend warriors optimize their performance.”
The next step in preparing for the more active days ahead: flexibility.
Baseball has a unique rhythm about it. Nine innings of stop-and-go activity
— the stark transition from bench to field again and again — calls for all
major league players to have a flexibility program built into their
“All athletes need a flexibility program,” says Ramappa. “Regardless of
whether you’re a professional or someone who enjoys working out
recreationally, everyone should have a daily flexibility routine. Daily
stretching helps lower the risk of getting injured during the weekend.
Achieving and maintaining flexibility is an important part of training.”
The third part of getting ready for the major league season is strength and
conditioning. Players build strength in ways that reflect game-time
situations — not just bulky muscle mass — which improves the efficiency of
their movements, and in turn helps sustain their bodies through the long
“The key here is that players adjust gradually from offseason to regular
season," Ramappa says. "They gradually build up their strength with an eye
on sustainability and reducing the risk of injury.”
Dr. Ramappa adds that this is important for individuals, too. He stresses
the importance for all athletes of strengthening the whole body, regardless
of their sport.
“Comprehensive strength improves and maintains full body mechanics. If we
look at the mechanics of a pitcher, for example, pitchers need a strong
core, glutes, and hips to reduce pressure on their shoulder and elbow.
Runners and other athletes need this same type of total body conditioning.
Your body’s muscle groups are interconnected. Neglecting one muscle group
can throw off the efficiency of other muscle groups. A balanced
conditioning routine is important.”
So whether you’re slugging home runs for the Red Sox or taking weekend runs
along the Charles, the key to success is always the same: It’s all about
health and consistency.