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.
 

dumb-and-dumber-hair-borderSo, it’s been one of those crazy weeks…

Ever feel like you’re being pulled in 1,000 different directions? So rather than scramble and hurry together a new post for you this week, I thought I’d share with you some other great pitching content.

And since I’m actually heading up to see these guys present at a seminar in a couple days, just seemed to make sense.

The seminar I’m attending is titled “Using Medical and Sports Science for Injury Prevention in Sports: The Throwing Athlete”

It’s featuring guys like Eric Cressey, Mike Reinold and Tom House so it should be a great event. After years of pitching and coaching, it’s easy to get complacent and start to think you know everything… Never a good place to be!

So with that in mind, here’s some stuff you should read if you want to deepen your understanding of the pitching process and the unique demands it places on you as an athlete:

Pitching Performance: Understanding Trunk Position at Foot Strike
In this 3 Part Series, Eric Cressey and Matt Blake do a great job breaking down what can be a complicated and confusing subject when it comes to “efficient pitching mechanics.”

What You Need to Know About GIRD: What It Is and What it Isn’t
Very detailed piece by Mike Reinold where he examines range of motion in the throwing arm. He offers some fresh insights here, really questioning the definition of GIRD and how to address it. For more on this, you can also check an article I wrote this spring:
Should Pitchers Stretch to Increase External Rotation

And lastly… we’re coming up on the off-season, so I’m bringing back one of my favorite posts from last year:

5 Steps for Maximizing Your Off-Season Pitching Workouts

[h5]Keep learning. Keep growing. Get better![/h5]
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