Should baseball players run long distance? The short answer is no, but you’re not going to let us get away with that short of an answer. Because of that, we’re going to break down the science behind our conclusion. Besides being the most monotonous activity on the baseball field, long distance running has little to no benefit for baseball players.
To understand why baseball players shouldn’t run long distance, you first have to understand the science behind how the body creates energy.
Here’s the deal:
The body generates adenosine triphosphate (ATP), its main unit of energy, through three energy systems:
The ATP-PC and glycolytic systems are anaerobic, meaning they provide energy for activities too intense for the body to consume adequate oxygen. The ATP-PC system, also called the Phosphagen system allows for 12 seconds (+ or-) of maximum effort. The oxidative system is aerobic and powers lower-intensity activities like walking and jogging. All three systems are active at any given time, but the intensity and duration of activity determines which system is most dominant. Conditioning for all sports is a matter of training the correct energy systems.
How Long Distance Running Keeps You From Throwing Harder, Hitting Bombs, And Staying Healthy
Baseball is a power sport full of short and explosive movements. stealing a base, swinging, pitching, tracking down fly balls in the gap. All these movements take anywhere from about two to ten seconds. Just from that, you can see that there is absolutely no correlation between long distance running and baseball performance.
What’s the bottom line?
If the majority of your training is running slow, guess what you’re body is going to do? RUN SLOW!
It gets better:
Not only will you run slower, but you”ll swing and throw slower. All in all, you’re teaching your body that it only needs to move slow.
Why? The Law of Specificity
The Law of Specificity states that muscles must be used in similar patterns and ways that they are needed in order to make specific gains on the individual. Therefore, it would make sense to train baseball players in a similar fashion to the demands of the sport.
But What About Lactic Acid? Should Baseball Players Run Long Distance After Pitching?
How many times have you seen a collegiate or professional pitcher run poles after a start?
It’s common culture to run after pitching to “break up lactic acid”.
Before you strap on the New Balances and hit the warning track, you need to understand this fact
That’s right. Hitting and pitching, the two most important movements in baseball are alactic activities.
Only aerobic exercise creates lactic acid. What that means is if your arm hurts after a game, it could literally be for a thousand reasons, but lactic acid is not one of them. If you have improper mechanics and throw 300 innings for your summer and fall ball team, a few poles will not help you. Lactic acid only accumulates after activity up to approximately 30 seconds. Pitchers perform an explosive movement, then rest for 10-20 seconds meaning pitchers will never actually tap into the energy system(Oxidative) that creates lactic acid. This also applies to every position, not just pitchers.
What Should Baseball Players Focus On
Ok, the last couple of paragraphs probably just shattered your world. By now you should see that postgame poles might not be the best idea, but what should you do now? Since Baseball is an anaerobic activity, baseball players should train more like sprinters instead of marathon runners. Science has caught up to some of the ancient norms in the game of baseball proving long distance running has no place in the game of baseball.
5 Exercises to do Instead of Long Distance Running
- Kettlebell Swings
- Prowler Pushes
- Battling Ropes
- Any short and explosive movement with full recovery between sets