Infraspinatus Cross-Sectional Area and Shoulder Range of Motion Change Following Live-Game Baseball Pitching

J Sport Rehabil. 2019 Mar 1;28(3):236-242. doi: 10.1123/jsr.2017-0158. Epub 2018 Dec 3.


Context: Following a baseball pitching bout, changes can occur to glenohumeral range of motion that could be linked to injury. These effects are in part due to the posterior shoulder's eccentric muscle activity, which can disrupt muscle contractile elements and lead to changes in muscle cross-sectional area (CSA), as measured by ultrasound.

Objective: To assess changes in muscle CSA, and range of motion immediately before and after pitching, and days 1 to 5 following pitching.

Design: Repeated measures.

Setting: Satellite athletic training room.

Patients: Ten elite college baseball pitchers participating in the fall season (age: 18.8 [1.2] y, height: 189.2 [7.3] cm, mass: 93.1 [15.3] kg, 8 starters, 2 long relievers).

Intervention: A pitching bout of at least 25 pitches (63.82 [17.42] pitches).

Main outcome measures: Dominant and nondominant infraspinatus CSA, as measured by ultrasound, and glenohumeral range of motion including internal rotation (IRROM), external rotation (ERROM), and total rotation range of motion (TROM) before pitching, after pitching, and days 1 to 5 following the pitching bout.

Results: Dominant limb CSA significantly increased day 1 after pitching, and returned to baseline on day 2 (P < .001). Dominant and nondominant TROM did not change until day 5 (4.4°, P < .001) and day 3 (4.5°, P < .001), respectively, where they increased. Dominant IRROM was significantly decreased for 3 days (day 1: 1.9°, P < .001; day 2: 3.1°, P < .001; day 3: 0.3°, P < .001) following pitching and returned to baseline on day 4, with no such changes in the nondominant limb. Dominant external rotation significantly increased immediately post pitching (4.4°, P < .001) but returned to baseline by day 1.

Conclusions: The results of the study demonstrate that infraspinatus CSA does not recover until 2 days following pitching, and IRROM does not recover until 4 days following pitching. Baseball pitching elicits damage to the posterior shoulder muscle architecture, resulting in changes to physical characteristics that last up to 4 days following pitching.

Keywords: baseball; recovery; ultrasound.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Baseball*
  • Humans
  • Range of Motion, Articular*
  • Rotation
  • Rotator Cuff / physiology*
  • Shoulder / physiology*
  • Young Adult