In baseball, long-toss throws are commonly used in return-to-throw programs and for general conditioning; however, the majority of these programs are based on conventional wisdom. Few studies have examined the biomechanics of long-toss throwing and the impact of throw distance. The purpose of this study was to determine if significant differences exist among commonly-used sub-maximal distance long-toss throws and mound pitching. Nineteen college baseball pitchers (19 ± 1.3 years; 88.3 ± 8.4 kg; and 73.9 ± 18.6 cm) wore a motusBASEBALL™ sleeve and sensor which measured peak elbow varus torque (VT), peak forearm angular velocity (Vmax), and peak arm-cocking angle (ACA). Each player completed five long-toss throws at distances of 27 m, 37 m, 46 m, 55 m and five pitches from a mound at regulation (18.4 m). There were no significant differences among throwing conditions for both VT and Vmax (p<0.05). For ACA, there was a significant increase (approximately 12°) as the long-toss distance increased. Coaches and trainers should be aware that sub-maximal distance long-toss throws (27 - 55 m+) generate high-magnitude throwing arm biomechanics (kinetics, velocities, range of motion) that approach or even exceed those generated during pitching; precaution needs to be used when implementing long-tosses into throwing and rehabilitation programs.
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