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Elbow flexion post ball release is associated with the elbow varus deceleration moments in baseball pitching

Elbow flexion post ball release is associated with the elbow varus deceleration moments in baseball pitching

Sports Biomechanics 2019: 1-10

The association between breaking pitches and elbow injury remains nebulous. Biomechanical studies have shown that throwing a fastball rather than a curveball results in greater elbow moments, despite some epidemiological studies and pitcher self-report indicating the opposite. This leads to the following question: Are biomechanical studies missing something that could explain this discrepancy? This study evaluated the association between elbow kinematics of baseball pitchers during the deceleration phase of the pitch and the elbow varus moment. Eighty-seven uninjured collegiate pitchers were analysed using 3-dimensional motion capture techniques. Results indicated that pitchers who remained in greater elbow flexion had greater post ball release elbow varus moments (EVMPBR) (p = 0.001). Regression analysis indicated that for every 10° of increased elbow flexion during follow-through the EVMPBR increased by 5.4 Nm for the fastball and 8.2 Nm for the curveball (p < 0.001). This suggests a concerning second stress on the elbow joint occurring during the deceleration phase of the pitch. The results showed that maintaining greater elbow flexion during the deceleration phase of the pitch can substantially increase the elbow varus moment after ball release (BR), especially when pitching the curveball. The results reinforce the need to emphasise appropriate pitching mechanics.

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PMID: 30707085

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