The Effect of Stride Length and Lateral Pelvic Tilt on Elbow Torque in Youth Baseball Pitchers

in Journal of Applied Biomechanics
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High elbow torque during a pitch may contribute to injury risk. Our objective was to determine the pitch mechanics associated with elbow varus torque in youth baseball pitchers. Eighteen male youth pitchers (age = 15.5 ± 1.6 years) threw 3 fastballs and 3 change-ups from a windup position while undergoing 3-dimensional kinematic analysis. Independent variables included ball release point distance, stride length, lateral pelvic tilt, and ball velocity. Two multiple regression models, separated by pitch type (fastball, change-up) were used to determine the association of independent variables with peak varus torque at the elbow. Fastball and change-up regression models indicated that stride length (β = 0.301, p = .015; β = 0.46, p < .001, respectively) and lateral pelvic tilt (β = −0.50, p < .001; β = −0.25, p = .04, respectively) were significantly associated with peak elbow varus torque. During fastballs, pitch velocity was significantly associated with peak elbow varus torque (β = 0.38, p = .002), while release point distance was significantly associated with peak elbow varus torque during change-ups (β = −0.33, p = .015). Youth pitchers with longer strides and less lateral pelvic tilt demonstrated greater elbow torque regardless of pitch type, while the association of ball velocity and release point to elbow varus torque was dependent on pitch type.

Tocci, Howell, Sugimoto, Dawkins, Whited, and Bae are with The Micheli Center for Sports Injury Prevention, Waltham, MA. Tocci is also with Colby College, Waterville, ME. Howell, Sugimoto, Dawkins, Whited, and Bae are also with the Division of Sports Medicine, Department of Orthopaedics, Boston Children’s Hospital, Boston, MA. Howell is also with the Sports Medicine Center, Children’s Hospital Colorado, Aurora, CO. Sugimoto and Bae are also with the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA.

Address author correspondence to David R. Howell at David.Howell@ucdenver.edu.
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