Biomechanics and Pathology of the Overhead Throwing Motion: A Literature Review

Peter Huijbregts, PT, MSc, MHSc, MTC, CSCS

Abstract: This article describes the electromyographic, kinematic and kinetic analysis of the overhead throwing motion. Pathology associated with this motion is described, based on a literature review and inferred from data of said analysis. The goal of this article is to improve the therapist’s understanding of the biomechanics of the overhead throwing motion to facilitate evaluation and treatment decisions.

Key Words: Throwing, Shoulder, Biomechanics, Pathology

Pain and decreased function of the shoulder are common complaints for which a patient may be referred to a physical therapist. Dealing with shoulder problems in the non-athletic population can be quite challenging, but any problem the therapist might have with managing of this population pales compared to the difficulties one may experience in trying to return the throwing athlete to a previous level of function. The purpose of this article is to increase the therapist’s understanding of the pathology associated with the throwing motion in order to facilitate interpretation of evaluation findings and to help determine appropriate management strategies. I will describe the mechanics of the well-researched overhead throwing motion and discuss the pathology associated with this motion. Discussion of treatment strategies is outside of the scope of this article, but based on the information presented here, the therapist should be able to make an appropriate choice from the many conservative protocols available1-3.

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