The Effect of Straight-Line Long-Toss Versus Ultra-Long-Toss Throwing on Passive Glenohumeral Range of Motion Recovery After Pitching

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Aaron SciasciaORCID iD icon


Exercise and Sport Science

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Background: Repetitive throwing in baseball pitchers can lead to pathologic changes in shoulder anatomy, range of motion (notably glenohumeral internal rotation deficit), and subsequent injury; however, the ideal strengthening, recovery, and maintenance protocol of the throwing shoulder in baseball remains unclear. Two strategies for throwing shoulder recovery from pitching are straight-line long-toss (SLT) throwing and ultra-long-toss (ULT) throwing, although neither is preferentially supported by empirical data. Hypothesis: ULT will be more effective in returning baseline internal rotation as compared with SLT in collegiate pitchers after a pitching session. Study Design: Cohort study. Level of Evidence: Level 3. Methods: A total of 24 National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I baseball pitchers with mean age 20.0 ± 1.1 years were randomized to either the ULT group (n = 13; 9 right-hand dominant, 4 left-hand dominant) or SLT group (n = 11; 10 right-hand dominant, 1 left-hand dominant). Measurements (dominant and nondominant, 90° abducted external rotation [ER], internal rotation [IR], and total range of motion [TROM]) were taken at 5 time points across 3 days: before and immediately after a standardized bullpen session on day 1; before and immediately after a randomized standardized ULT or SLT session on day 2; and before practice on Day 3. Results: ULT demonstrated significantly greater final ER compared with baseline (+10°; P = 0.05), but did not demonstrate significant IR changes. Similarly, SLT demonstrated significantly greater post-SLT ER (+12°; P = 0.02) and TROM (+12°;P = 0.01) compared with baseline, but no significant IR changes. Final ER measurements were similar between ULT (135° ± 14°) and SLT (138° ± 10°) (P = 0.59). There was also no statistically significant difference in final IR between ULT (51° ± 14°) and SLT (56° ± 8°) (P = 0.27). Conclusion: The routine use of postperformance, ULT throwing to recover from range of motion alterations, specifically IR loss, after a pitching session is not superior to standard, SLT throwing. Based on these findings, the choice of postpitching recovery throwing could be player specific based on experience and comfort. Clinical Relevance: The most effective throwing regimens for enhancing performance and reducing residual impairment are unclear, and ideal recovery and maintenance protocols are frequently debated with little supporting data. Two strategies for throwing shoulder recovery from pitching are SLT and ULT throwing. These are employed to help maintain range of motion and limit IR loss in pitchers. The routine use of ULT throwing for recovery and to limit range of motion alterations after a pitching session is not superior to SLT throwing.

Journal Title

Sports Health: A Multidisciplinary Approach

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