Biomechanical Comparison of Baseball Pitching and Long-Toss: Implications for Training and Rehabilitation

Biomechanical Comparison of Baseball Pitching and Long-Toss: Implications for Training and Rehabilitation

(Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy; May 2011)

  • Seventeen healthy, college baseball pitchers pitched fastballs 18.4 m from a mound to a strike zone, and threw 37 m, 55 m, and maximum distance from flat ground. For the 37-m and 55-m throws, participants were instructed to throw "hard, on a horizontal line." For the maximum-distance throw, no constraint on trajectory was given. Kinematics and kinetics were measured with a 3-dimensional, automated motion analysis system. Repeated-measures analyses of variance, with post hoc paired t tests, were used to compare the 4 throw types within pitchers.
  • Maximum distance throws produced the greatest elbow and shoulder torques, without any change in ball velocity, making these the least efficient throws, as they produced the most torque for comparable ball velocity. The benefits or detriments of long-toss cannot truly be determined without prospective studies comparing performance and safety between groups trained with and without long-toss.
  • 55-m may be a good choice for the longer throw on a line, as all participants were able to throw this distance without increasing the ball trajectory but throwing from maximal distance too early in the rehabilitation process may lead to shoulder and elbow pain-and in general may be more harmful than beneficial.