Elbow level


#1

I keep getting different answers on if the throwing elbow should be above or below the shoulder level. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks

Mike


#2

Once the hands have broken, the Pitching Arm Side elbow should never get above the level of the shoulders (the white line in the photo below).

The way to get the PAS elbow up, and to raise the arm slot, is to tilt the shoulders like Jeff Suppan is doing in the photo below…


#3

Mike,
Plenty of succesful MLB pitchers raise their elbow above their shoulders. When their arms begin to accelerate forward the elbow does drop below shoulder height.


#4

First, greats like Maddux, Clemens, and Ryan don’t do this, so it’s obviously not necessary to throw either hard or well.

Second, guys who do take their elbows above the level of their shoulders have a significantly increased incidence of shoulder problems.


#5

[/quote]

Chris,

With the body in this position (chest facing the plate), fingers behind the ball, forearm in neutral (thumb side facing the ear), upper arm in neutral (neither inwardly or outwardly rotating, IT IS ANATOMICALLY IMPOSSIBLE TO RAISE THE ELBOW ABOVE THE LINE OF THE SHOULDERS. It’s all about these specific relationships at this specific time within a continuum. However, if you now supinate the forearm IT IS POSSIBLE, without distress, to raise the elbow above the line of the shoulders. I’ve been trying to point out to you, numerous times, that you are missing the correlation between forearm position (ie supinated releases of sliders and curveballs) and shoulder damage. In reality the key problem is lack of continuing body rotation. But, the biggest risk factor for front of the shoulder is much more closely correlated to forearm bounce. The same forces that tear the UCL are the same ones that damage the subscapularis, having nothing to do with the relative shoulder and elbow alignment you keep talking about. The biggest risk factos for back of the shoulder and labrum are more about followthrough issues.

Once you understand this you will understand precisely why Marshall is advocating full body rotation, accompanied by lifting the upper arm vertical while the forearm is supinated. During this entire phase, in an ideal world, the elbow never travels behind or in front of the acromial line. Did you ever look at the clip I posted of the young man throwing the iron balls? I’m describing what you see in these images.

All of the above is why I’m quite positive you still don’t get it. Not trying to be abrasive. I repeat that you’re missing timing issues.


#6

Understanding this to be true, should there be concern for a pitcher who “appears” to have a “high elbow” at this point? For example in the photo, Suppan tilts his shoulders in such a way that his elbow looks higher than his head. Is this something to be concerned about, for example as a precursor to shoulder impingement?

[quote=“Coach45”]In reality the key problem is lack of continuing body rotation. But, the biggest risk factor for front of the shoulder is much more closely correlated to forearm bounce. The same forces that tear the UCL are the same ones that damage the subscapularis, having nothing to do with the relative shoulder and elbow alignment you keep talking about. The biggest risk factos for back of the shoulder and labrum are more about followthrough issues.

Once you understand this you will understand precisely why Marshall is advocating full body rotation, accompanied by lifting the upper arm vertical while the forearm is supinated. During this entire phase, in an ideal world, the elbow never travels behind or in front of the acromial line. [/quote]

Without getting too technical, what represents a good/safe follow-through? For example can you watch the hand’s path or finishing point as an indicator? The shoulders? Direction of body momentum?

Thanks.


#7

Note about the pic Chris supplied. I doubt that Suppan is pitching…looks like long toss, and I suspect he’s throwing from some modified version of the crow hop. His body is rotated a little farther forward than when he pitches…that’s a good thing.

I don’t believe that this specific position, at this specific time in the mechanic, has anything to do with impingement. What’s more vital is to understand what you can’t see in the picture. In order to tilt the shoulders this way the back has to bend laterally. Bending the spine like this while at the same time levering body weight in front of the hips is a prescription for low back injuries. Does this answer the question?

If body rotation can continue to a point where a RHP, for example, faces the first base line, all of the big muscles in the back and shoulder girdle are aligned in a way where the can be used efficiently. In other words, driving the throwing hand straight at the plate, with the body fully rotated, is a biomechanical ideal. Huge muscles are in position to protect the shoulder joint instead of tiny ones. The link of iron ball throws slows things down enough you can get the idea. Does this answer the question simply enough?


#8

So is what Anthony Reyes is doing in the photo above…

  1. Good
  2. Bad
  3. Neutral

…and why?

I’d say it’s bad and it’s one reason why I am concerned about Reyes’ prospects for the next two years as he moves into the starting rotation.


#9

[quote=“joejanish”][quote=“Coach45”]With the body in this position (chest facing the plate), fingers behind the ball, forearm in neutral (thumb side facing the ear), upper arm in neutral (neither inwardly or outwardly rotating, IT IS ANATOMICALLY IMPOSSIBLE TO RAISE THE ELBOW ABOVE THE LINE OF THE SHOULDERS.
[/quote]

Understanding this to be true, should there be concern for a pitcher who “appears” to have a “high elbow” at this point? For example in the photo, Suppan tilts his shoulders in such a way that his elbow looks higher than his head. Is this something to be concerned about, for example as a precursor to shoulder impingement?
[/quote]

First, it’s not impossible to have the elbow above the level of the shoulders at this point. It’s rare, but I have seen it in several pitchers.

Second, I am more concerned about pitchers who do things like this…


#10

No.

While his elbow is high, it is below the level of his shoulders since his shoulders are tilted.

People get into problems when, at various points in the delivery, they try to get the PAS elbow up without also tilting the shoulders.


#11

[quote=“Chris O’Leary”]

So is what Anthony Reyes is doing in the photo above…

  1. Good
  2. Bad
  3. Neutral

…and why?

I’d say it’s bad and it’s one reason why I am concerned about Reyes’ prospects for the next two years as he moves into the starting rotation.[/quote]

This action, in and of itself is not damaging. The chain that it sets in motion lengthens the distance of forearm bounce so in a symptomatic way its bad. Very bad.


#12

[quote=“Chris O’Leary”]
First, it’s not impossible to have the elbow above the level of the shoulders at this point. It’s rare, but I have seen it in several pitchers.[/quote]

Unless the person is a genetic freak you are mistaken. I think you’re confusing ‘elbow’ with a specific bony landmark in the distal humerus. In this case the identifier is not the hollow on the anterior side of the elbow, it’s the posterior, medial humerus. AKA ‘back’ of the elbow.


Without seeing what happens to Wainwright in sequence, before and after the still above there’s no validity to the premise. That said, with a 90 degree bend in the elbow at this point his UCL is in harms’ way at the culmination of forearm bounce. The only way to reduce this force is to extend the elbow further. Of note, you can see how much the bicep is flexed. Given the time it will now take to bounce, then accelerate, there’s ZERO physiological chance he can actively extend the arm with the tricep. Autonomic nervous system won’t have time to react, just like whiplash in a neck injury. In the end this means he is losing elbow range of motion and likely sustaining cumulative bone/cartilage damage in the back of the elbow.


Zumaya’s going to get hurt. Not a question of ‘if’ only a question of when. Are you clear in understanding that the anatomical position he’s in is not damaging in and of itself?


#13

[quote=“Coach45”]This action, in and of itself is not damaging. The chain that it sets in motion lengthens the distance of forearm bounce so in a symptomatic way its bad. Very bad.[/quote]I agree almost completely. I’ve said this a couple of times before but I believe you described it better than I did. The reason I say I “almost” agree completely is because there is no hard and fast evidence that this is the damaging. I happen to BELIEVE it is but that’s all that is, my “belief”.


#14

DM,

We all ‘believe’ things, some with far less proof or evidence than we have here, but I’m not going to start a war with the examples. I was looking at the disabled list last evening. Some of the injuries certainly go back to last year, or at least an accumulation of years, but right now before season even starts there are 84 pitchers with shoulder and elbow injuries, and a few other scattered things. This is proof that there’s something seriously wrong.

When an apple falls from the tree do we conclude that gravity is real? We’ve never seen gravity. We may understand the theoretical mathematics and science behind the concept, but we’ve never seen it. We see the effects. I submit what we’re looking at here is no different, so it seems we’re on the same page.

Coach45


#15

I’m fine with this.

That the action isn’t damaging in and of itself, but that it sets you up to possibly do things that are damaging, such as…

  1. Excessive external rotation of the PAS upper arm.
  2. Externally rotating the PAS upper arm while the elbows are above and behind the shoulders.

#16

That may be why it’s so rare.

I’m more concerned with the height of Wainwright’s PAS elbow in the photo below. If it doesn’t drop before his shoulders start to turn, I believe that he will be more vulnerable to an impingement injury. I think that may be what went on with Jonathan Papelbon and Cole Hamels.

I agree that Zumaya isn’t hurting himself at the moment that this photo represents, but that by doing this he is setting himself up for an injury by increasing the amount which his PAS upper arm will externally rotate (and possibly an impingement injury as well).


#17

[quote=“Coach45”] What’s more vital is to understand what you can’t see in the picture. In order to tilt the shoulders this way the back has to bend laterally. Bending the spine like this while at the same time levering body weight in front of the hips is a prescription for low back injuries. Does this answer the question?

If body rotation can continue to a point where a RHP, for example, faces the first base line, all of the big muscles in the back and shoulder girdle are aligned in a way where the can be used efficiently. In other words, driving the throwing hand straight at the plate, with the body fully rotated, is a biomechanical ideal. Huge muscles are in position to protect the shoulder joint instead of tiny ones. The link of iron ball throws slows things down enough you can get the idea. Does this answer the question simply enough?

I understand what you are saying. However after watching the video of the iron ball throw, it looks to me like the kid is definitely bending laterally and putting a frightening strain on his lower back. So I’m not sure what to make of any of this.


#18

[quote=“Coach45”]…right now before season even starts there are 84 pitchers with shoulder and elbow injuries, and a few other scattered things. This is proof that there’s something seriously wrong.[/quote]My comments were specific to proof that the inverted W or M approach is any worse than other methods.

You are right that the “traditional” pitching motion has serious risk issues. I’ll not argue at all there. I just haven’t seen an alternative that removes that risk AND is capable of the same velocities, including Marshall’s method. Like you and I have discussed before, I just haven’t seen any proof.


#19

[quote=“joejanish”]
I understand what you are saying. However after watching the video of the iron ball throw, it looks to me like the kid is definitely bending laterally and putting a frightening strain on his lower back. So I’m not sure what to make of any of this.[/quote]

Yes there’s lateral bending, but far less than a conventional pitcher. If you watch how tall he stays right through the end of the motion it provides some clues. And because he continues with body rotation, instead of squaring the chest up to throw, the low back strain is far less than when pitchers also bend at the waist.

After nearly 1000 consecutive days of this he’s never once mentioned discomfort in the lower back.


#20

[quote=“dm59”]
You are right that the “traditional” pitching motion has serious risk issues. I’ll not argue at all there. I just haven’t seen an alternative that removes that risk AND is capable of the same velocities, including Marshall’s method. Like you and I have discussed before, I just haven’t seen any proof.[/quote]

Summer 2007 will provide some of the answers about velocity. As I’ve said before this is a long process. And like I’ve said before velocity is only one component of pitching. In reality it’s more about destroying a hitter’s timing. Have you ever watched Wakefield blow and 80mph fastball right past a hitter? He only uses it a few times per game and no one can sit on it. If velocity were the only benchmark there are guys on major league mounds who shouldn’t be there. Velocity is nice, but it’s far from the end all. Movement when combined with changing speeds is at least equally dominating when compared with high velocity; I think it’s better. The guys who are dominating right now are on either side of 88-92. Brandon Webb, 2006 NL Cy Young rarely touches 88. Mostly 84-86 on the top side. Baseball is too hung up on velo, but I think that’s changing based on conversations with some insiders.