Research Summary: Hip Abductor Strength Asymmetry: Relationship to Upper Extremity Injury in Professional Baseball Players (Plummer et al, 2023)

Brief Summary

With the baseball season starting recently, the importance of understanding upper extremity injuries is at the forefront of baseball practitioners’ minds. Plummer et al 2023 aimed to explore the relationship between isometric hip abduction strength and upper extremity injury in overhead / throwing athletes.

Hip abduction strength was tested due to its perceived role in stabilizing and controlling hip motion during pitching or throwing. The researchers hypothesized that deficits in isometric hip abduction strength may alter throwing mechanics leading to increased upper limb stress and injury risk.

188 Minor League baseball players, 98 pitchers, and 90 position players were recruited for the study. Each participant was prospectively tracked for the first two months of the baseball season and overuse or nontraumatic throwing arm injuries were recorded. An injury was defined as any upper extremity injury sustained while participating in baseball activities that resulted in a missed game or practice session. Injuries were categorised as being related to the shoulder, elbow, wrist, muscle, joint, tendon, bone or nerve-related. Hip strength asymmetry was expressed as the trail hip strength / lead hip strength x 100%.

Interestingly, data is consistent with a relationship between isometric hip abduction strength symmetry and upper extremity injury risk in pitchers but not position players.

In conclusion, while absolute strength, an individual athlete’s musculoskeletal profile, throwing loads and other biomechanical risk factors require consideration, the authors recommend addressing hip strength asymmetries that exceed 5% in order to manage injury risk in overhead / throwing sports. 

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