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Jpn J Biomechanics Sports Exercise 11 (4): 264-275, 2007

Contributions of joint torques and motion-dependent moments of upper extremity to produce hand velocity of throwing arm during overhand baseball pitch


Graduate School of Design Science and Technology, Tokyo Institute of Technology


A previous study found that a high level pitcher might generate greater joint forces and torques in order to produce greater shoulder and elbow angular velocities during skillful pitching performance (Fleisig et al. 1999). On the other hand, in multijoint limb movement, torque at one joint occurs not only from muscles acting on that joint but also from interactions due to the rotations of other joints. Therefore, it is unlikely that the joint motions of the throwing arm will be due exclusively to the muscles at the corresponding joints. There have been many studies analyzing throwing arm dynamics in baseball pitch but none has yet determined the contributions of joint torques and motion-dependent moments to the distal endpoint velocity of upper extremity in multijoint throwing arm motion. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to quantify the contributions of joint torques and motion-dependent moments to produce the hand velocity of the throwing arm during an overhand baseball pitch. A throwing arm dynamical model consisting of 4 segments (trunk, upper arm, fore arm and hand) and 7 degrees of freedom (DOF) of shoulder, elbow and wrist joints was developed. Four baseball pitchers participated in the experiment and their pitching motions were recorded by high-speed video camera. Joint motions and torques of 3 joints were calculated using the DLT method and inverse dynamics. An equation of motion in the dynamical throwing arm model was utilized to calculate the contributions of joint torque-dependent and motion-dependent components to the hand velocity. These dependent velocities were then decomposed into the components of 7 DOF. The results showed that the joint torque-dependent component was the greatest contributor, the angular velocity-dependent component was the second contributor, and the trunk motion-dependent component was the third contributor in producing the hand velocity of throwing arm. Analysis of these contributions in all joint motions implied the following;
a) The joint torque-dependent velocities of the shoulder horizontal adduction-abduction, external-internal rotation, wrist flexion-extension and supination-pronation contributed to the positive hand velocity.
b) The joint torque-dependent velocities of the elbow extension-flexion and wrist ulnar-radial deviation contributed to the negative hand velocity.
c) The shoulder internal rotation torque generates rapid internal rotation motion and plays a major role for producing high hand velocity.
d) The angular velocity-dependent component and the trunk motion-dependent component cause positive hand velocity accompanied with rapid elbow extension.
e) The motion-dependent moments due to the rotations of the throwing arm segments and trunk affected the throwing arm motion and were helpful to produce the positive hand velocity.

Key Words: pitching, contribution, joint torque, motion-dependent moment, inter-segmental interaction

Submitted for Publication: Oct. 11, 2005,

Accepted for Publication: Nov. 13, 2007



JJBSE バイオメカニクス研究