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Icing after pitching

Aug 2, 2008
During games my daughter (10-u) puts on a sweatshirt to keep her arm warm between innings, after the game or after a practice session she ices her shoulder for about 15 minutes.

question #1: during tournaments when she might pitch in games an hour or 2 apart how does she take care of her arm? ( ice or keep warm)

question #2: should she ice her elbow and forearm as well?



Softball fan
Feb 28, 2008
Montreal, Canada
Hi Mike,

Good practice to adopt early. It is probably not as needed for 10 years old than it would be for an older pitcher but it is a good habit to establish early.

To answer your questions:

#1 - If there is less than 2-3 hours between starts, don't ice. If you have more like 4 hours, that's fine to ice for 15 minutes. Definitely ice at the end of the day.

#2 - Shoulder mostly. Elbow and forearms when she starts throwing a lot of advanced pitches. If she is mostly pitch fastball and change-ups, no big need. I would mostly do it after she has thrown like 2 games the same day.

Hope that helps.

Aug 2, 2008
Thanks for the reply Marc,
I'm not trying to disagree with you because we have been icing after pitching. But I have been doing a little research on icing and now I am just plain confused, it sounds like maybe icing should only be done if a pitchers arm is sore. The stuff below is just some things I found on the internet that kind of make sense. Anyway I just wanted to see what you think.

P.S. some articles have recommended jogging after a pitching session to keep the blood flowing to the shoulder area to get rid of lactic acid that has built up from exercising the arm.

All About Pitching Article The Myth Of Baseball Pitchers Icing—Why Ice Is Not Nice
All About Pitching Article Should Pitchers Ice After They Pitch? Not According To The Research.

Should Pitchers Ice After A Game? What about Practice? Is Icing Bad?
The topic of icing comes up a lot. Many pitchers do it. It's not bad for you. And it's not dangerous or anything like that either. I didn't ice down after games, though. A lot of pro pitchers that I played with didn't actually ice.

I feel you should only ice after a pitching performance if your arm is painfully sore -- a point, of course, you should not reach. Think about this: Would you ice your legs after doing a bunch of squat thrusts in the weight room? Would you ice your legs after multiple sets of wind sprints across the outfield?

Probably not, right?

But that's just it. Pitching is ultimately no different than any of these kinds of workouts. The muscle fibers in the arm incur microscopic tears from the repeated throwing motion just like a leg muscles incur tiny microscopic tears when doing squats or sprints. Your body then rushes nutrient rich blood to repair these tiny tears and to flush out any toxic lactic acid (the by-product of repeated anaerobic, namely, short bursts of energy).

This repairing of the muscle is what ultimately makes the muscle stronger. In your case, it's what enables a you to increase strength and velocity in your throwing arm. However, applying ice to your arm actually impedes your body's ability to ability to pump nutrient rich blood to the "stressed" area to flush out the lactic acid that has built up during your performance. That's because by nature, ice slows down a liquid's ability to flow freely. As a result, you're slowing down your recovery time, not speeding it up as you might have thought.

Ice after a pitching performance if your arm is really sore. In this case alone, the application of ice will lessen your immediate pain because ice numbs the nerve endings. But know that it will take longer for you to recover because the movement of nutrient rich blood to repair those tiny microscopic tears has been greatly reduced.

If you do ice, always place a towel or T-shirt over the area prior to placing the ice on location. Ice for no more than 20 minutes, and never ice before or during a game.
May 7, 2008
Much of the above article or whatever it is is in direct opposition to what I learned in kinesiology and anatomy. Even the advice about placing something over the area to be iced, is the opposite. I was taught to only do that with commercial, plastic ice packs. A bag of ice would not need that because it is able to get enough air around it.

Icing is to prevent injury and decrease recovery time. The movement of the blood is increased, not decreased.

And yes, players should ice after practice.

Also, I wish coaches would ice the catcher's knees.
Aug 2, 2008
Icing is to prevent injury and decrease recovery time. The movement of the blood is increased, not decreased.
Amy, Thanks for replying,

I am not trying to be argumentative, just informed. From what I understand the blood is increased initially, but the ice will then constrict the vessels and decrease blood flow and therefore will not properly flush the area of the lactic acid that has built up. I have been trying to pour through the many conflicting articles that pertain to the subject. It sounds like cooling the arm for 5 to 10 minutes followed by some light throwing is the best way keep the blood flowing. Some of the articles state that ice is used to reduce inflamation due to injury, so they suggest only icing if a pitchers arm is sore, then I saw Jennie Finch in the dugout on t.v. the other night after her 4 innings with her arm packed in ice. Go figure. Anyway we plan to keep icing after she pitches even though I hate doing something without fully understanding it. If there are any other opinions I would love to read them.

May 7, 2008
No, I'm not arguing either.

I am always amazed when something comes out that is totally opposite of what we have done (successfully) for decades.

For example, a medical study just came out showing that men over 70 should not have prostrate exams and that possibly treating the cancer is the wrong thing to do.

It is like CPR changing after being the same way for 35 years. Sometimes, I just shake my head.

Just remember, ice is your friend. :D
Aug 21, 2008
Personally, I ice after every game (even if I will be pitching again 2 hours later). I'm not sure if that's medically correct or not but.. the way I look at it, I have to warm up again anyway. Everytime I throw, I'm inflaming muscles and moving parts of my body. By icing I hope to curb any bad things I've done in my body during that game. I'm not saying it's right or wrong but it's what I do personally. So far it's worked ok for me! As I get older, I find I need to ice even after simply LOOKING at a softball because i'm not in shape. Even the hair on my arm hurts from time to time.
Bill, can I show my non athletic wife who doesn't understand pain your comment. She doesn't understand why I get sore and nobody else does. I had to tell her to watch all of the positions during the game to understand. The pitchers and the catchers do the most work which is the two positions I play. I will take out the fact that your out of shape because I am sure I am 100 times worse, haha. I am sure I speak for us both when I say that the pain means we are still playing the game!

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