of Baseball Pitching and Long-Toss
STUDY DESIGN: Controlled laboratory study.
OBJECTIVES: Test for kinematic and kinetic differences between baseball pitching from a mound and long-toss on flat ground.
BACKGROUND: Long-toss throws from flat ground are commonly used by baseball pitchers for rehabilitation, conditioning, and training. However, controversy exists about the biomechanics and functionality of such throws.
METHODS: Seventeen healthy college baseball pitchers pitched fastballs 18.4 m from a mound to a strike zone, and threw 37 m, 55 m, and maximum distance from flat ground. Participants were instructed to throw 37m and 55m “hard, on a horizontal line,” whereas no constraint on trajectory was given for maximum distance throws. Kinematics and kinetics were measured with a 3-dimensional automated motion analysis system. Repeated measures ANOVA with post-hoc paired t-tests were used to compare the 4 throw types within pitchers.
RESULTS: At foot contact, the shoulder line was nearly horizontal for pitching and became progressively more “uphill” as throwing distance increased. At arm cocking, the greatest amount of shoulder external rotation (mean ± SD: 180±11°), elbow flexion (109±10°), shoulder internal rotation torque (101±17 Nm), and elbow varus torque (100±18 Nm) were measured during the maximum distance throws. Elbow extension velocity was greatest for the maximum distance throws (2573±203°/s). Forward trunk tilt at the instant of ball release decreased as throwing distance increased.
CONCLUSIONS: Hard, horizontal flat-ground throws have similar biomechanical patterns as pitching and are therefore reasonable exercises for pitchers. However, maximum distance throws produce increased torques and changes in kinematics; caution is therefore advised for use of these throws in rehabilitation and training. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther, Epub 5 January 2011. doi:10.2519/jospt.2011.3568.