Here is an important research finding that pitchers and their coaches should be aware of. There has been much discussion in the past at LTP and other forums concerning the role of triceps in pitching/throwing.
Some highly respected coaches like Tom House have been saying for several years now that it is very important for pitchers to strengthen their triceps to at least the same functional level as their biceps.
On the other hand, the role and importance of the triceps has been laughed off and ridiculed by some self-appointed ‘experts’, notably Chris O’Leary (who never seems to fail to have a rank amateur opinion about everything, which nevertheless he asserts as if he actually knows what he’s talking about).
The research article below claims that the functional triceps strength should actually be about 30% greater than the biceps strength. That is, if biceps strength is assigned a value of 1.0, and a ratio of biceps/triceps strength of 0.76 is the cut-off number for elbow injury correlation, then the research says that triceps strength should be at least 1.3-fold greater than biceps strength to mitigate risk of elbow injury. The “greater than 0.76” correlation to higher risk for injury, mentioned in the paper, basically says that the weaker your triceps are, compared to your biceps, the higher your risk for elbow injury.
This is a very important empirical result, and it suggests that pitchers can be evaluated for this risk factor before they develop elbow problems.
J Sport Rehabil. 2010 Feb;19(1):21-9.
Functional isokinetic strength ratios in baseball players with injured elbows.
Lin YC, Thompson A, Kung JT, Chieh LW, Chou SW, Lin JC.
Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Gueishan Township, Taiwan.
CONTEXT: Elbow injuries are widely reported among baseball players. The elbow is susceptible to injury when elbow-flexor and -extensor forces are imbalanced during pitching or throwing. Assessment of muscle-strength ratios may prove useful for diagnosing elbow injury. OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to assess the relationship between the elbow-flexor and -extensor functional isokinetic ratios and elbow injury in baseball players. DESIGN: Retrospective study. SETTING: Biomechanics laboratory. PARTICIPANTS: College baseball players with (n = 9) and without (n = 12) self-reported elbow pain or loss of strength were recruited. INTERVENTION AND MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Trials were conducted using a dynamometer to assess dominant-arm flexor and extensor concentric and eccentric strength at angular velocities of 60 degrees and 240 degrees/s. Functional isokinetic ratios were calculated and compared between groups. RESULTS: Regression analysis revealed that a ratio of biceps concentric to triceps concentric strength greater than 0.76 (the median value) significantly predicted elbow injury (P = .01, odds ratio of injury = 24). No other ratios or variables (including position played) were predictive of injury status. CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest that the ratio of biceps concentric to triceps concentric functional strength strongly predicts elbow-injury status in baseball players. Assessment of this ratio may prove useful in a practical setting for training purposes and both injury diagnosis and rehabilitation.