BACKGROUND: Currently, most pitching instructors suggest a shorter arm path-the total distance the arm travels during pitching. Theoretically, this combination allows for better body segment sequencing, a more efficient energy transfer through the kinetic chain, and increased ball velocity, while limiting elbow varus torque.
HYPOTHESIS: Shorter arm paths would be associated with increased ball velocity and decreased elbow varus torque.
STUDY DESIGN: Descriptive laboratory study.
METHODS: A total of 182 professional pitchers threw 8 to 12 fastball pitches while evaluated by 3-dimensional motion capture (480 Hz). The arm path was calculated as the total distance the hand marker traveled during the pitch. The pitch was divided into early, late, and total arm paths. A linear regression model assessed the interpitcher relationship between arm path, elbow varus torque, and ball velocity. A linear mixed-effects model with random intercepts assessed intrapitcher relationships.
RESULTS: Interpitcher comparison showed that total arm path weakly correlated with greater elbow varus torque (
CONCLUSION: A shorter arm path correlated with decreased elbow varus torque and decreased ball velocity in intrapitcher comparisons. Determining the individual mechanics that decrease elbow varus torque may help coaches and trainers correct these patterns.
CLINICAL SIGNIFICANCE: A shorter arm path during the pitch can decrease elbow varus torque, which limits the load on the medial elbow but also has a detrimental effect on ball velocity. An improved understanding of the impact of shortening arm paths on stresses on the throwing arm may help minimize injury risk.
Dowling, Brittany; Hodakowski, Alexander; Olmanson, Bjorn; Cohn, Matthew; Pauley, Patrick; Verma, Nikhil; Nicholson, Gregory; and Garrigues, Grant, "Relationship Between Arm Path, Ball Velocity, and Elbow Varus Torque in Professional Baseball Pitchers" (2023). Rothman Institute Faculty Papers. Paper 240.
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