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Glenohumeral Range of Motion and Stiffness in Professional Baseball Pitchers

BORSA1, PAUL A.1; DOVER, GEOFFREY C.1; WILK, KEVIN E.2; REINOLD, MICHAEL M.2

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: January 2006 - Volume 38 - Issue 1 - pp 21-26
Clinical Sciences: Clinically Relevant

Purpose: This study was conducted to perform kinematic measures in a group of asymptomatic professional baseball pitchers to determine side-to-side differences in passive glenohumeral range of motion (ROM) and stiffness. We hypothesized that the throwing shoulder in asymptomatic pitchers would display greater passive glenohumeral stiffness than the contralateral nonthrowing shoulder.

Methods: Thirty-four professional baseball pitchers had bilateral assessments for passive glenohumeral ROM and stiffness during a single test session. ROM and stiffness measures were obtained objectively using standard goniometry and instrumented stress arthrometry, respectively.

Results: The throwing shoulder had significantly less (−8.5 º) internal rotation and significantly more external rotation (5.1º) than the nonthrowing shoulder (P < 0.01). Passive joint stiffness was not significantly different between the throwing and nonthrowing shoulder, and anterior joint stiffness was significantly greater than posterior joint stiffness for both shoulders (P < 0.05).

Conclusions: The repetitive stress of long-term throwing creates altered glenohumeral rotational patterns in the throwing shoulder of the professional baseball pitcher without compromising the joint's passive restraining quality.

1Sports Medicine Research Laboratory, Department of Applied Physiology and Kinesiology, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL; and 2Champion Sports Medicine, Birmingham, AL

Address for correspondence: Paul A. Borsa, ATC, University of Florida, 149 Florida Gymnasium, P.O. Box 118205, Gainesville, FL 32611-8205; E-mail: pborsa@hhp.ufl.edu.

Submitted for publication November 2004.

Accepted for publication July 2005.

This study was conducted at the University of Florida, Gainesville, FL. The authors thank the Tampa Bay Devil Rays baseball team especially Ken Crenshaw, ATC, Ron Porterfield, ATC, Paul Harker, ATC, and Nathan Shaw, ATC, CSCS for their cooperation and participation with the study. No author or related institution has received financial benefit from research in this study.

©2006The American College of Sports Medicine