An EMG Analysis of the Shoulder in Pitching. A Second Report

Am J Sports Med. May-Jun 1984;12(3):218-20. doi: 10.1177/036354658401200310.


This is the second report in a series of projects dealing with electromyographic (EMG) analysis of the upper extremity during throwing. Better understanding of the muscle activation patterns could lead to more effective preseason conditioning regimens and rehabilitation programs. Indwelling wire electrodes recorded the output from the biceps, long and lateral heads of the triceps, pectoralis major, latissimus dorsi, serratus anterior, and brachialis for four professional baseball pitchers. These signals were synchronized electronically with high speed film records of a fast ball. The EMG signals were converted from analog to digital records. Results showed that wind-up and early cocking phases showed minimal activity in all muscles, and such firing which occurred was of low intensity. Late cocking, which occurred after the front foot was firmly planted, showed moderate activity in the biceps. Cocking was terminated by the pectoralis major and latissimus dorsi. At this point, the trunk began to rotate forward, while the arm remained elevated and the elbow flexed. Also, the shoulder was moving to maximum external rotation. During the acceleration phase, the biceps was notably quiescent, while the pectoralis major, latissimus dorsi, triceps, and serratus anterior were all active. Muscle action at this time terminated external rotation and elbow flexion; i.e., the muscles fired as decelerators and also initiated the opposite actions for ball acceleration, internal rotation and elbow extension. Follow-through was not only a time of eccentric contraction with muscle activity decelerating the upper extremity complex, it was also an active event with the shoulder moving across the body and the elbow into extension with forearm pronation.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Baseball*
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Computers
  • Electrodes, Implanted
  • Electromyography
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motion Pictures
  • Muscle Contraction
  • Muscles / physiology
  • Shoulder / physiology*
  • Sports*