High rotational torques during baseball pitching are believed to be linked to most overuse injuries at the shoulder. This study investigated the effects of trunk rotation on shoulder rotational torques during pitching. A total of 38 pitchers from the professional, college, high school, and youth ranks were recruited for motion analysis. Professional pitchers demonstrated the least amount of rotational torque (p = .001) among skeletally mature players, while exhibiting the ability to rotate their trunks significantly later in the pitching cycle, as compared to other groups (p = .01). It was concluded that the timing of their rotation was optimized as to allow the throwing shoulder to move with decreased joint loading by conserving the momentum generated by the trunk. These results suggest that a specific pattern in throwing can be utilized to increase the efficiency of the pitch, which would allow a player to improve performance with decreased risk of overuse injury.
The authors are with the Center for Human Performance and Motion Analysis Laboratory, Children’s Hospital San Diego, San Diego, CA 92123.