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Lower Extremity Muscle Activation During Baseball Pitching

Campbell, Brian M1; Stodden, David F2; Nixon, Megan K3

The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: April 2010 - Volume 24 - Issue 4 - p 964-971
doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e3181cb241b
Original Research

Campbell, BM, Stodden, DF, and Nixon, MK. Lower extremity muscle activation during baseball pitching. J Strength Cond Res 24(4): 964-971, 2010-The purpose of this study was to investigate muscle activation levels of select lower extremity muscles during the pitching motion. Bilateral surface electromyography data on 5 lower extremity muscles (biceps femoris, rectus femoris, gluteus maximus, vastus medialis, and gastrocnemius) were collected on 11 highly skilled baseball pitchers and compared with individual maximal voluntary isometric contraction (MVIC) data. The pitching motion was divided into 4 distinct phases: phase 1, initiation of pitching motion to maximum stride leg knee height; phase 2, maximum stride leg knee height to stride foot contact (SFC); phase 3, SFC to ball release; and phase 4, ball release to 0.5 seconds after ball release (follow-through). Results indicated that trail leg musculature elicited moderate to high activity levels during phases 2 and 3 (38-172% of MVIC). Muscle activity levels of the stride leg were moderate to high during phases 2-4 (23-170% of MVIC). These data indicate a high demand for lower extremity strength and endurance. Specifically, coaches should incorporate unilateral and bilateral lower extremity exercises for strength improvement or maintenance and to facilitate dynamic stabilization of the lower extremities during the pitching motion.

1Biomechanics/Motor Behavior Laboratory School of Human Movement, Sport and Leisure Studies, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio; 2Texas Tech University; and 3Bradley University

Address correspondence to Brian M. Campbell,

© 2010 National Strength and Conditioning Association