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The Biomedical Engineering blog is the place for conversation and discussion about topics related to engineering principles of the medical field. Here, you'll find everything from discussions about emerging medical technologies to advances in medical research. The blog's owner, Chelsey H, is a graduate of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) with a degree in Biomedical Engineering.

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The Biomechanics of Baseball

Posted October 24, 2007 1:28 PM by shanlax

A batter's swing can make a difference in the offensive side of any baseball game and it's the pitcher's arm that benefits the defense. For those of you who aren't too savvy on baseball or for the younger kids, you may have wondered why a pitcher has a pitching count; this is all do to the biomechanics of baseball! Every time a ball is pitched, kinematics and kinetics are involved. These are the motions, forces, and torques that make the balls fly at extreme speeds.

So if you have been wondering why that awesome team, the RED SOX, have dropped Tim Wakefield from their World Series roster it's because of injury. Wakefield suffers from inflammation in his right shoulder. Along with injuries involving the elbow, inflammation of the shoulder is most often caused by overuse of the arm. Sometimes these injuries only need a little rest, where as others lead to surgery and recovery, and can sometimes even cause the pitcher to hang up his glove and cleats. So how can we fix this? What about the other pitchers, how do we keep Beckett's and Schilling's arms in good shape?

Nowadays the American Sports Medicine Institute (ASMI) works with team trainers, doctors, and the coaching staff on how biomechanics can be used to help not only protect the pitchers arm, but to possibly even improve their pitch. Studies have been taking place over the last two decades using pitchers of all levels and ages to show the break down in different styles of pitching, how the torques and forces are applied, and the strength of the two. When studying biomechanics it's not about just focusing on the arm; you must focus on the whole body including the stance, the movement, etc. If a pitcher can produce arm speed by using the whole body then force and the torque is distributed throughout the body and causes less strain applied to the arm. This is amazingly true in a lot of sports; in lacrosse, an attacker is taught that by placing hip and leg movement in their shots will result in harder and faster shooting.

So does it also affect batting? Look at it this way big papi, David Ortiz the Red Sox's designated hitter, currently suffers from an injured knee that he will need to get surgery on after the World Series. Batters face overuse injuries as well as instantaneous injuries. Batters' shoulders, hips, and knees can be strongly affected by the way they hit and how they turn to pitch to their slides. A batter's power is not just in their arms; like pitchers, a batter is more advantaged by using their whole body. This can be noticed in how a batter tilt's his shoulders, turns his torso, and the amount of flexion placed on his front arm.

A Sports Biomechanics article states that a right-handed batter whose left arm is straightened out gains an advantage in their batting by applying "leverage". Placing their latissimus dorsi in a passive state causes the shoulder to tilt upward and backward, while causing the torso not to be in sequence with the batter's legs. This can often lead to stress placed on the shoulder, causing injury. Whereas if the batter were to drag the left arm in the direction of the torso and swing around, the torso would then be efficiently able to rotate the torso and drive the bat through the swing.

With the use of cameras and software, biomechanics is moving towards efficiently breaking down the dispersal of forces, torques, and motions throughout the body. This will be beneficial in determining the cause of injury, breaking down the mechanics in the movement of the body, help prevent injury, and improve the athletes' game.

Now if you want a great game to watch and one where you can use biomechanics in action, watch game 1 of the World Series in Fenway tonight at 8 pm east coast time!

GO RED SOX!!!

Resources:

http://www.chiroweb.com/archives/11/06/01.html

Good articles to read in regards to injuries, biomechanics, and the Red Sox:

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/playoffs2007/news/story?id=3065339

http://slate.com/id/2164894/

For a good article and some laughs read:

http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=simmons/071023&sportCat=mlb

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#1

Re: The Biomechanics of Baseball

10/26/2007 9:30 AM

"A batter's swing can make a difference in the offensive side of any baseball game"

Dustin Pedroia sure proved that during Game 1. He may have been the smallest guy on the field, but he's a great high-ball hitter. Part of what makes him successful is that his swing gets the fat part of the bat on the ball. There were a lot of scouts who said that "Rat Boy" would never make it in the big leagues, but his biomechanics (and heart) prove otherwise.

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