An Interval Throwing Program for Baseball Pitchers Based upon Workload Data.

Screenshot 2024-02-23 at 1.01.38 PM

An Interval Throwing Program for Baseball Pitchers Based upon Workload Data.

Reinold MM, Dowling B, Fleisig GS, Macrina LC, Wilk KE, Streepy JT, Andrews JR.



Background: Interval throwing programs (ITP) have been used for decades to enable baseball pitchers to return to competition after injury or surgery by gradually applying load to the throwing arm. Past programs have been based on personal experience; however, advances in our understanding of the biomechanics and workloads of throwing allow for a more modern data-based program to be developed.

Hypothesis/Purpose: To 1) develop a updated ITP for rehabilitation of modern baseball pitchers based upon biomechanical and throwing workload data, and 2) compare the updated program with a past program to determine differences in chronic workload and acute:chronic workload ratios (ACWR).

Study Design: Cross-sectional study

Methods: Workloads (i.e. daily, acute, chronic, and ACWR) for the original ITP were built from the prescribed throwing schedule. Elbow varus torque per throw was calculated based upon a relationship between elbow varus torque and throwing distance. Throw counts, daily/chronic/acute workloads, and ACWR were calculated and plotted over time. A new ITP was built to model current pitcher’s throwing schedules and gradually increased ACWR over time.

Results: The original ITP had a throwing schedule of 136 days, final chronic workload 15.0, and the ACWR above or below the “safe” range (i.e. 0.7 – 1.3) for 18% of the program with a peak of 1.61. The updated ITP was built to consist of a 217-day schedule, final chronic workload of 10.8, and deviated from the safe range for 9% of the program, with a peak of 1.33.

Conclusion: The newly created ITP is more familiar to modern baseball pitchers while exhibiting a more gradual buildup of chronic workload than traditional ITP programs. This ITP may be used to return baseball pitchers back to competition as safely and efficiently as possible, and potentially with less risk of setbacks or reinjury. The ITP may be used following common injuries or surgeries to the throwing shoulder and elbow, such as Tommy John surgery, while also serving as a basis for future development of shorter duration ITPs.

Level of Evidence: Cross-sectional, descriptive study