Add this one to the category of things that are interesting, but not really surprising… The other day I came across an article that cited a recent study where researchers examined the relationship between hip mobility and and injury risk for pitchers.

In pitching injuries, the elbow is connected to the hip bone

Over the years, there have been a number of studies looking at the link between hip mobility, rotation and pitching velocity. For example:

Passive ranges of motion of the hips and their relationship with pitching biomechanics and ball velocity in professional baseball pitchers
Robb AJ1, Fleisig G, Wilk K, Macrina L, Bolt B, Pajaczkowski J.

What’s a little different in this case is that the researchers are looking at the link between hip mobility and risk of elbow injury. Or more specifically, limited hip mobility and the signs of mechanical issues known to lead to added stress on the elbow.

Basically, we know from studies that certain mechanical factors are associated with increased stress on the elbow. I won’t dive deep into it here, but if you’re interested in the subject this piece in the July 2009 issue of “Sports Health” is worth a read:

Baseball Pitching Biomechanics in Relation to Injury Risk and Performance
Dave Fortenbaugh, MS, Glenn S. Fleisig, PhD,* and James R. Andrews, MD

One of the studies cited there looked specifically at two of those factors – lateral trunk tilt (or leaning over to your glove side) and shoulder abduction.

Influence of shoulder abduction and lateral trunk tilt on peak elbow varus torque for college baseball pitchers during simulated pitching
Matsuo T, Fleisig G

Now the idea of hip mobility having an impact on your pitching delivery is nothing new if you’ve followed my site. It’s why I’m a big believer that in addition to Motion Analysis, pitchers should also get a complete physical assessment to uncover any strength or mobility deficiencies.

It’s why I’m also a big fan of adding yoga to your training if you’ve got balance, flexibility or mobility issues.

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But it’s just further confirmation of how important role your hips play in your pitching delivery. Here’s the key part in the article that stood out for me:

“UF researchers correlated the hip range of motion to what they already knew could risk injury, and found that the less range of motion in their hips that pitchers had, the higher the risk to the pitchers’ arms. Pitchers unknowingly compensate for limited range of motion in their hips, which could place more torque on their elbows.”

As a pitcher, so much of your power comes from lower half and achieving good hip to shoulder separation. If you’re limited in your hip mobility, not only are you more likely to open up early… you’ll also probably try and make up for it somewhere else, either by leaning way over or reaching back with your throwing arm…

[h5]Bottom Line? It’s All Connected![/h5] As I’ve said before, you don’t want to let mobility and flexibility issues hold you back. If you’ve got access to a great strength and conditioning coach who knows baseball like Josh Heenan, get assessed! If you can’t get checked in person, I highly recommend checking out Gray Cook’s Functional Movement Screen or Eric Cressey and Mike Reinold’s Assess & Correct.

If you’ve followed my site, you know I’m a big on getting your hips into your pitching delivery. It’s something I talk about in two recent video lessons – here they are again if you missed them:

How Masahiro Tanaka gets his hips into his pitching delivery

Tips for learning to lead with loaded hips in your pitching motion

And working to stay loaded up and getting your hips into your delivery is great but a friend of mine, Josh Heenan, made an excellent point in the comments below the Tanaka post. Josh wrote:

“Many people do not possess the hip mobility to be able to get into that much hip internal rotation, which is something that can often be increased with dedicated joint mobility work. There are also genetic limitations…”

So to continue the discussion, I caught up with Josh the other day to address this issue in more detail. This video is a little different than previous interviews – it’s sort of a discussion / mini-webinar where Josh shares his screen and explains in detail why mobility is so critical for pitchers.

He also shares some great techniques for improving hip mobility and hammers home the need for assessment and individualization in a pitcher’s training program.

So check out the interview/webinar – Josh really knows his stuff!

[h3]Hip Mobility for Pitchers with Josh Heenan[/h3]

[hr] [h5]Josh Heenan – Head Strength & Conditioning Coach, Moore PT[/h5] website: JoshHeenan.com – great resource!

[h5]SPECIAL BONUS!!![/h5]

Josh is offering a special 50% Off deal on his Building the Perfect Pitcher program. Mechanics are important, but they’re just part of the equation. If you want to maximize your potential, you need a good strength & conditioning program. This is the only program I’ve seen designed specifically for pitchers that takes the individual needs of the athlete into account. I’ve checked it out and it’s legit.

perfect-pitcher
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Full disclosure: I do receive a commission if you buy Josh’s program through this link. I only endorse stuff that I truly believe in – I know how solid the program is and I stand 100% behind Josh and his quality as a coach.
 

Did you see this article? Little League Mechanics vs. Major League Mechanics

In it I talked about one of the big mechanical flaws you frequently see with young pitchers: Opening the hips early. Another way to think about this is “not Loading the Hips properly” in the stride.

I got a few questions from guys asking how they could address this mechanical with their pitchers. So I put together a short video (with voice-over) to give you a better idea of what loading the hips looks like, along with one of the drills I use for teaching this component.

Loading the Hips is one of my 4 Power Pitching Components:
1. Linear Momentum (early momentum)
2. Loading the Hips
3. Hip to Shoulder Separation (torque)
4. Stabilizing the Front Side (front knee, glove arm)
[hr] [h4]Some videos to help address this mechanical flaw:[/h4] 1. Opening the hips early: Young pitchers often swing the front leg out, opening their front foot early, effectively unloading their hips. See video below (no audio):

2. Loading the hips with Fernando Rodney: Watching Fernando Rodney shows you how you can load your hips without a big leg lift (or any leg lift). Now most pitchers will struggle with a “no leg lift” delivery, but the video below show you how staying loaded and closed with the hips is more important than a big leg lift (he throws 100 MPH).

3. One of my favorite drills to help develop the feel for loading the hips:
This one sets you up in that same loaded-up hip position you see with Rodney in the video above. How high you lift your leg is up to you.


This is an excerpt from one of my videos in the Ballistic Pitching Blueprint.
For a complete system of drills to develop this Power Pitching Component and others for a more Powerful, Dynamic pitching delivery Click Here.

[hr] photo source: Dustin Bradford/Getty Images