In the Journals

Elbow varus torque was associated with arm rotation, speed among professional pitchers

A recently published study that used an inertial measurement unit sensor and sleeve identified an association between shoulder flexibility, arm speed and elbow varus torque in professional baseball pitchers.

Brittany Dowling, MS , and colleagues recorded arm slot, arm speed, arm rotation and elbow varus torque with a motusBASEBALL sensor and sleeve (Motus Global) during 82,000 throws performed by 81 professional pitchers.

Brittany Dowling

Results showed a significant relationship between arm slot, arm speed and arm rotation with elbow varus torque. Researchers found a 1-Nm increase in elbow varus torque within individual athletes was associated with a 13° decrease in arm slot, a 116° per second increase in arm speed and an 8° increase in arm rotation.

“Novel, wearable technology was used to determine the relationship between elbow varus torque and several throwing metrics in professional baseball pitchers,” Dowling told Healio.com/Orthopedics. “After assessing 82,000 throws, it was found that arm rotation, arm speed and elbow varus torque (and likely injury risk) are interrelated and should be considered collectively when treating pitchers. Unlike motion capture systems set up in laboratories, this wearable technology shows promise as a practical method for assessing the real time, on-field activity of pitchers as they progress through their normal throwing routines.” – by Casey Tingle

 

Disclosures: Dowling reports she is employed by Motus Global. Please see the full study for a list of all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.

A recently published study that used an inertial measurement unit sensor and sleeve identified an association between shoulder flexibility, arm speed and elbow varus torque in professional baseball pitchers.

Brittany Dowling, MS , and colleagues recorded arm slot, arm speed, arm rotation and elbow varus torque with a motusBASEBALL sensor and sleeve (Motus Global) during 82,000 throws performed by 81 professional pitchers.

Brittany Dowling

Results showed a significant relationship between arm slot, arm speed and arm rotation with elbow varus torque. Researchers found a 1-Nm increase in elbow varus torque within individual athletes was associated with a 13° decrease in arm slot, a 116° per second increase in arm speed and an 8° increase in arm rotation.

“Novel, wearable technology was used to determine the relationship between elbow varus torque and several throwing metrics in professional baseball pitchers,” Dowling told Healio.com/Orthopedics. “After assessing 82,000 throws, it was found that arm rotation, arm speed and elbow varus torque (and likely injury risk) are interrelated and should be considered collectively when treating pitchers. Unlike motion capture systems set up in laboratories, this wearable technology shows promise as a practical method for assessing the real time, on-field activity of pitchers as they progress through their normal throwing routines.” – by Casey Tingle

 

Disclosures: Dowling reports she is employed by Motus Global. Please see the full study for a list of all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.

    Perspective

    As wearable sensor technology continues to advance, our ability to utilize these tools to evaluate athletes outside the lab and on the field is exciting. Future use of these tools, both in practice and game action, could potentially be instrumental in assessing risk with regard to biomechanics, fatigue, overuse and rehabilitation. Currently, wearable sensor technology is already being utilized in other sports, for example NFL and collegiate football teams utilize wearable accelerometer technology to track player movement, hits, etc. Utilizing wearable technology in baseball makes perfect sense as we continue to find ways to limit ever-present overuse arm injuries.
    In utilizing wearable sensors, this study’s findings add to the growing literature with regard to throwing biomechanics that may put a player at risk for injury. Although it may be difficult to modify the high-torque mechanics found in this study (pitch speed, shoulder external rotation, arm slot) as these mechanics are likely what made the athlete successful, there may be ways to utilize this information and technology to objectively modify a pitcher’s workload (pitch counts, number of bullpens, etc.) in order to keep the player healthy and away from injury.

    • Robert A. Keller, MD
    • Orthopedic sports medicine Ascension/Crittenton Hospital Rochester Hills, Michigan

    Disclosures: Keller reports no relevant financial disclosures.