Baseball season is winding down. And as teams look to the offseason, there will again be attention paid how to improve performance and conditioning.
In the last offseason, Major League Baseball officials took a strong interest in biomechanical technology testing of their pitchers. There had been an unsubstantiated correlation between injuries in young pitchers and the number of innings pitched. In research from 2002 to 2007, young pitchers that were studied showed that there was no correlation between the number of innings pitched and likelihood of future injury.
But Motus Global, a world-leader in advanced biomechanical analysis in all levels of sport performance, stepped up to the plate to examine the issue more closely. In the fall of 2014, Motus introduced mThrow, which combines new and innovative wearable technology with groundbreaking 3D movement and performance analysis software.
The technology may change the game.
Enter mThrow–a wearable compression sleeve equipped with a Motus-developed 3D motion sensor wearable device. Some are calling it the sleeve that might save baseball.
The device communicates directly to the mThrow iOS app to provide metrics on a player’s mechanics and collective workloads throughout the season indicating injury risk. The sleeve can measure such things as arm slot, torque and velocity. If a pitcher tires and his arm slot starts to drop, the pitching coach and manager could see it happening via the app in real time–even if only a few inches and not easily visible with the naked eye, which is why the app is an improvement and, I would say, a necessity in ensuring that your favorite pitcher isn’t on the verge of the dreaded Tommy Johns surgery.
The data updates instantly with each motion. Preliminary findings have shown that long tosses — throws of over 180 feet — place more stress on the elbow than in-game pitches. The data also found equivalent stress levels in dry work/drills along with short-distance bullpen sessions, showing that every throw counts towards cumulative stress being placed on the arm. As such, pitch counts are not nearly as significant as total throws in a day, including pickoff throws and in-between inning warm-ups.
The Motus app tracks all of this. The app has a simple user interface, designed to categorize throwing workloads in pitches and positional players. Even some batters have used it to correct and adjust their swing. There is a tagging feature in the app that allows the user to differentiate between throw types. Cloud-enabled storage of all data and text/SMS/email alert settings to automatically notify users when workloads are becoming difficult to manage.
As of now, 25 of the 30 Major League Baseball teams are incorporating the mThrow into their training. The mThrow’s application is not limited to baseball. It is available to athletes of any level and most sports, and I am personally interested in seeing how individuals and teams incorporated this new technology into their systems.
Will there be a decline in the amount of pitchers inflicted with the Tommy Johns injury? Only time will tell.