Biomechanics of the elbow during baseball pitching

J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 1993 Jun;17(6):274-8. doi: 10.2519/jospt.1993.17.6.274.


By understanding pitching biomechanics, therapists can develop better preventive and rehabilitative programs for pitchers. The purpose of this study was to quantify and explain the joint motions, loads, and muscle activity that occur at the elbow during baseball pitching. Seven healthy, adult pitchers were examined with synchronized high-speed video digitization and surface electromyography. Elbow extension before ball release corresponded with a decrease in biceps activity and an increase in triceps activity. A varus torque of 120 Nm, acting to resist valgus stress, occurred near the time of maximum shoulder external rotation. Previous cadaveric research showed that the ulnar collateral ligament by itself cannot withstand a valgus load of this magnitude. Triceps, wrist flexorpronator, and anconeus activity during peak valgus stress suggests that these muscles may act as dynamic stabilizers to assist the ulnar collateral ligament in preventing valgus extension overload.

MeSH terms

  • Arm / physiology
  • Baseball* / injuries
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Elbow Joint / physiology*
  • Electromyography
  • Humans
  • Kinetics
  • Male
  • Muscles / physiology
  • Rotation