The influence of the spine on the shoulder in the throwing athlete

Jeffrey L. Young*, Stanley A. Herring, Joel M. Press, Brian A. Casazza

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Analysis of shoulder dysfunction in throwing and overhead athletes can no longer be restricted to evaluation of the glenohumeral joint alone. The isolated shoulder is incapable of generating the force necessary to hurl a baseball at velocities of 90-100 miles per hour or serve a tennis ball in excess of 120 miles per hour. The purpose of this paper is to provide a literature based theoretical framework for the role of the spine during these activities. The spine is a pivotal component of the kinematic chain which functions as a transfer link between the lower and upper limbs, a force generator capable of accelerating the arm, and a force attenuator which dampens shear forces at the glenohumeral joint during the deceleration phase of the pitching motion. Side bending and rotation of the cervical spine facilitates visual acquisition of the intended target. Inflexibility of the hip musculature and weakness of the muscles which attach to the thoracolumbar fascia have profound effects upon spine function which secondarily places greater stress upon the glenohumeral joint and rotator cuff. Shoulder rehabilitation and injury prevention programs should include evaluation of and exercise regimens for the lumbar, thoracic and cervical spine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-17
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Back and Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 1996


  • Baseball injuries
  • Biomechanics
  • Shoulder
  • Spine
  • Sports medicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation


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