Assessing the Biomechanics of Overhead Athletes

Fast Facts
A baseball pitcher is 30 times more likely to sustain an injury when pitching fatigued.

High velocity and powerful overhead movements have been recorded in baseball, tennis, swimming, volleyball, and gymnastics. Huge amounts of force are generated and transferred through the shoulder and elbow during each overhead task and for some overhead athletes the forces on the shoulder can equal or exceed your body weight. Your arm also must have more motion when you are an overhead athlete, and these movements are repeated over and over again, often over many years. Any weak link in the chain can lead to poor performance and could ultimately result in an injury.

Overhead Athlete

At Atlantic Physical Therapy we are expertly trained in performing a full biomechanical exam of the overhead athlete’s shoulder and elbow. Numerous studies have outlined the intimate connection between the two joints and the effect one can have on the other. A full exam can identify range of motion deficits, flexibility asymmetries, strength imbalances, and training errors that may be contributing to injury or decreased sports performance. We can also look beyond the arm itself to identify other possible sources of trouble. Utilizing this information and comparing it to scientific data on what is normal, we can identify areas of deficiency that can be used by physical therapists, coaches, parents, and players to reduce the risk of injury and improve sports performance.

Because of the rapid nature of overhead sports, it is impossible to accurately analyze these movements with the naked eye. Fortunately, technology can be used to help in this area. At Atlantic Physical Therapy, we offer high-speed video analysis for baseball pitchers. This in-depth analysis can identify mechanical errors that make the thrower less efficient or could lead to stresses that cause injury. This same technology can be used for slow motion analysis of tennis, volleyball, and other overhead sports. We take pride in staying current on these topics and we attend conferences annually focused on latest scientific advances in treatment of the overhead athlete.