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How does an MLB Pitcher's Shoulder Withstand Such Force?

Spring time means getting into the full “throws” of Major League Baseball. Whether you’re a Cleveland Indians or Cincinnati Reds fan or maybe even play some ball yourself, it’s clear that the pitcher uses his arm and shoulder exhaustively. In some cases, the pitcher does not even throw for a whole game due to high exertion.

Let’s take a closer look at what is happening to the pitcher’s shoulder during a baseball pitch.

The average speed of an MLB pitch is 92 mph, with many pitchers topping out in triple digits. In order to exert this much force, the pitcher winds up using leg, glute, and core muscles, and then winds through the pitch with the final force pushing through the shoulder. Similarly to the hip joint, the shoulder joint is a ball and socket structure. The head of the humerus (arm bone) fits directly into the glenoid (rounded socket in shoulder blade). The labrum is a ring of strong tissue that surrounds the ball and socket which is responsible for connecting ligaments and tendons from the bicep to the shoulder and ultimately keeps the shoulder stable. When a pitcher throws the ball at upwards of 100 mph, this shoulder structure twists, turns and stabilizes to ensure an arm does not come flying off.

There are detrimental times of injury to the shoulder which could end in a shoulder reconstruction or shoulder replacement. This is usually due to the labrum’s inability to stabilize the tendons and muscles after being highly exerted. When the labrum cannot hold the humerus into the glenoid cavity, the slippage causes pain.

With proper prevention treatments and exercises, professional pitchers are able to withstand this force over and over again in order to provide us in Columbus with great entertainment.

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