JOURNAL ARTICLE

The Relationship of Throwing Arm Mechanics and Elbow Varus Torque: Within-Subject Variation for Professional Baseball Pitchers Across 82,000 Throws

Christopher L Camp, Travis G Tubbs, Glenn S Fleisig, Joshua S Dines, David M Dines, David W Altchek, Brittany Dowling
American Journal of Sports Medicine 2017, 45 (13): 3030-3035
28806094

BACKGROUND: Likely due to the high level of strain exerted across the elbow during the throwing motion, elbow injuries are on the rise in baseball. To identify at-risk athletes and guide postinjury return-to-throw programs, a better understanding of the variables that influence elbow varus torque is desired.

PURPOSE: To describe the within-subject relationship between elbow varus torque and arm slot and arm rotation in professional baseball pitchers.

STUDY DESIGN: Descriptive laboratory study.

METHODS: A total of 81 professional pitchers performed 82,000 throws while wearing a motusBASEBALL sensor and sleeve. These throws represented a combination of throw types, such as warm-up/catch, structured long-toss, bullpen throwing from a mound, and live game activity. Variables recorded for each throw included arm slot (angle of the forearm relative to the ground at ball release), arm speed (maximal rotational velocity of the forearm), arm rotation (maximal external rotation of the throwing arm relative to the ground), and elbow varus torque. Linear mixed-effects models and likelihood ratio tests were used to estimate the relationship between elbow varus torque and arm slot, arm speed, and arm rotation within individual pitchers.

RESULTS: All 3 metrics-arm slot (χ2 = 428, P < .001), arm speed (χ2 = 57,683, P < .001), and arm rotation (χ2 = 1392, P < .001)-were found to have a significant relationship with elbow varus torque. Within individual athletes, a 1-N.m increase in elbow varus torque was associated with a 13° decrease in arm slot, a 116 deg/s increase in arm speed, and an 8° increase in arm rotation.

CONCLUSION: Elbow varus torque increased significantly as pitchers increased their arm rotation during the arm cocking phase, increased the rotational velocity of their arm during the arm acceleration phase of throwing, and decreased arm slot at ball release. Thus, shoulder flexibility, arm speed, and elbow varus torque (and likely injury risk) are interrelated and should be considered collectively when treating pitchers.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE: It is well established that elbow varus torque is related to ulnar collateral ligament injuries in overhead throwers. This study describes the relationship of arm slot, arm speed, and arm rotation to elbow varus torque in an attempt to identify modifiable risk factors for injury.

Full Text Links

Find Full Text Links for this Article

Discussion

You are not logged in. Sign Up or Log In to join the discussion.

Related Papers

Remove bar
Read by QxMD icon Read
28806094
×

Save your favorite articles in one place with a free QxMD account.

×

Search Tips

Use Boolean operators: AND/OR

diabetic AND foot
diabetes OR diabetic

Exclude a word using the 'minus' sign

Virchow -triad

Use Parentheses

water AND (cup OR glass)

Add an asterisk (*) at end of a word to include word stems

Neuro* will search for Neurology, Neuroscientist, Neurological, and so on

Use quotes to search for an exact phrase

"primary prevention of cancer"
(heart or cardiac or cardio*) AND arrest -"American Heart Association"