A talented and healthy pitching staff in major league baseball often makes the difference between a postseason run to the World Series or a disappointing season of lost opportunities. All sports have injury risks but those associated with pitching a baseball present interesting questions to scientists and bio mechanical engineers.
An entire industry studies motion and has developed: MEMS motion trackers, vibration-rejecting gyroscopes, inertial measurement units, vertical reference units, heading and reference systems, integrated gps receivers, wireless 3D human motion trackers, orientation technology, camera and cameraless full body inertial motion capturing systems, 3D human kinesthenic monitoring systems, heading reference systems and much more.
The muscular mechanical motion of throwing a baseball requires coordination of the body’s scapula and humorous producing what is called a scapulo-humeral rhythm (SHR). The fact that pitchers need ice and significant rest time between pitching assignments speaks to the inherent danger of the pitching motion. But throwing a baseball repetitively with the wrong kind of motion can lead to scapular dyskinesia which is a common shoulder disability for pitchers and other athletes who use repetitive overhead movements.
A company called XSens Technologies B.V. has developed a 3-D motion analysis system called Xbus Kit and tested it on a dozen baseball pitchers analyzing SHR in forward elevation abduction before throwing, after 60 pitches, and 24 hours later. The study indicated that SHR can sometimes lead to injury due to incorrect or abnormal shoulder biomechanics.
Following is a video of the XSens systems: