Addressing and Treating Trunk Tilt at Foot Strike – Part 2

In Part 1 (click here), we the concept of an excessive trunk tilt, how to identify it and some things physically that could help cause it. In Part 2, we’ll take a look at why it can be harmful to the shoulder and elbow and some things we can do to help get us a little more on the “straight and narrow”.

Excessive Forces on the Shoulder and Elbow

Since throwing with a tilt is essentially placing the arm slot in a more “over the top” position, there are higher levels of torque at the elbow and shoulder due to the humerus moving in a more superior direction. If you look at the picture below you can see that this athlete is about to accelerate his arm towards the plate, this is all in a day’s work for any pitcher but due to the degree of trunk tilt his shoulder and elbow are going to be migrate in a more provocative, superior direction. Not a great direction for the shoulder or the labrum to be accepting force.

Keeping the body more upright will keep the direction of the throw moving in a more horizontal, less provocative (superior) direction.

What Causes an “Excessive Tilt at Foot Strike”?

It can be caused by a few different things but today, we’re going to talk about 3 big ones that I see every day in our high school throwers.

    • Poor breathing patterns
    • Anterior core strength
    • Insufficient lead leg strength

We could include other issues such as hip mobility and t-spine extension as well, but for the scope of this blog we’ll hit these three. Let’s dive a little deeper.

Poor Breathing Patterns – Next to the lower half, the rib cage is probably the most important part of a pitching delivery. It is at the center of the body, and serves as a platform for the shoulder blades to move upon.  Poor scapular movement can in turn, force the athlete to tilt the upper half to get to that optimum 90-110 degrees at foot strike that we talked about in Part 1. Working on breathing with the ribs down and shutting down tight lats can help upward rotation.

(TRX Deep Squat Breathing)

Anterior Core Strength – Many times young athletes (most whom have an undeveloped and weak anterior core due to growing) live in an extended posture. This can inhibit rib cage and pelvic position, making it hard to make an efficient rotation at front foot strike while still holding his line to home plate. The result can be a closed landing forcing an excessive tilt to help “cut the ball” around the body. Creating some good rotational stiffness can go a long way.

(Core Stability at Stride Length)

Insufficient Lead Leg Strength – No mystery here. You can’t build a strong stable house on a weak foundation. Pitching coaches can try, try, try but if strength is the underlying issue they’re banging their heads against the wall. It just simply doesn’t work. Get strong.

(RFESS w/ 2 sec pause)

See ya’ in the gym…

By Nunzio Signore (BA, CSCS, CPT, NASM, FMS)

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