Jan 29, 2015
Session Notes: Injury Risk in the Pitching Motion

Why are the lower extremities so important in the baseball pitching motion? Research shows that more than half of the energy transferred to a pitched baseball comes from the hips and below. The shoulder and elbow are the relatively weakest links in the chain, so if lower-body mechanics are poor or flexibility is limited, the upper body will be responsible for generating too large a share of the force needed to throw the ball.

That was one of the topics discussed at a session called “The Baseball and Windmill Softball Pitch: Pitching Mechanics and Injury Prevention from the Lower Extremity.” The presenter was Gretchen Oliver, PhD, LAT, ATC, of the University of Arkansas.

Oliver used original research to produce a bar graph, which she displayed for attendees, breaking the softball windmill pitching motion into five phases. It isolated five different muscles–the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, biceps brachii, triceps brachii, and rhomboids–and showed the maximum voluntary isometric contraction for each muscle during each of the five windmill phases.

The greatest force in phases one and four came from the gluteus maximus. In phase two, it was the rhomboids. In phases three and five, the most force came from the triceps.

Interested in learning more about injury risk and the pitching motion? Last year, T&C ran an article by former Boston Red Sox Strength and Conditioning Coordinator B.J. Baker, which discussed pitching mechanics and its affect on the shoulder complex. Click here to read it.

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