Correlation of glenohumeral internal rotation deficit and total rotational motion to shoulder injuries in professional baseball pitchers

Am J Sports Med. 2011 Feb;39(2):329-35. doi: 10.1177/0363546510384223. Epub 2010 Dec 4.


Background: Glenohumeral internal rotation deficit (GIRD) indicates a 20° or greater loss of internal rotation of the throwing shoulder compared with the nondominant shoulder.

Purpose: To determine whether GIRD and a deficit in total rotational motion (external rotation + internal rotation) compared with the nonthrowing shoulder correlate with shoulder injuries in professional baseball pitchers.

Study design: Case series; Level of evidence, 4.

Methods: Over 3 competitive seasons (2005 to 2007), passive range of motion measurements were evaluated on the dominant and nondominant shoulders for 170 pitcher-seasons. This included 122 professional pitchers during the 3 seasons of data collection, in which some pitchers were measured during multiple seasons. Ranges of motion were measured with a bubble goniometer during the preseason, by the same examiner each year. External and internal rotation of the glenohumeral joint was assessed with the participant supine and the arm abducted 90° in the plane of the scapula, with the scapula stabilized anteriorly at the coracoid process. The reproducibility of the test methods had an intraclass correlation coefficient of .81. Days in which the player was unable to participate because of injury or surgery were recorded during the season by the medical staff of the team and defined as an injury.

Results: Pitchers with GIRD (n = 40) were nearly twice as likely to be injured as those without but without statistical significance (P = .17). Pitchers with total rotational motion deficit greater than 5° had a higher rate of injury. Minor league pitchers were more likely than major league pitchers to be injured. However, when players were injured, major league pitchers missed a significantly greater number of games than minor league pitchers.

Conclusion: Compared with pitchers without GIRD, pitchers with GIRD appear to be at a higher risk for injury and shoulder surgery.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Baseball / injuries*
  • Cumulative Trauma Disorders
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Range of Motion, Articular / physiology*
  • Shoulder Injuries*
  • Shoulder Joint / physiology*
  • Young Adult