Workload Comparison of Contemporary Interval Throwing Programs and a Novel Optimized Program for Baseball Pitchers.
Dowling B, Brusalis CM, Streepy JT, et al.
Background: In the rehabilitation of injured baseball pitchers, there is lack of consensus on how to guide a player back to pitching. It is unknown how different contemporary interval throwing programs (ITPs) progress in the amount of throwing workload.
Purposes: To 1) evaluate three prominent ITPs commonly employed in baseball pitcher rehabilitation and assess whether these ITPs produce training loads that increase in a controlled, graduated manner and 2) devise an ITP that produced training loads which increased steadily over time.
Study Design: Cross-sectional study
Methods: Three publicly available ITPs from prominent sports medicine institutions were analyzed. Elbow varus torque per throw was calculated from a 2nd order polynomial regression based upon a relationship between recorded torque measurements and throwing distance measured from a database of 111,196 throws. The relative rate of workload increase was measured as an acute:chronic workload ratio (ACWR). For each ITP, throw counts, daily/acute/chronic workloads, and ACWR were calculated and plotted over time. Finally, an original ITP was devised based upon a computational model that gradually increases ACWR over time and finished with an optimal chronic workload.
Results: Each ITP exhibited a unique progression of throwing distances, quantities, and days to create different workload profiles. The three ITPs had throwing schedules ranging from 136 days to 187 days, ACWR spiked above or fell below a literature-defined “safe” range (i.e. 0.7 – 1.3) 19, 21, and 23 times. A novel ITP, predicated on a 146-day schedule and with a final chronic workload of 14.2, was designed to have no spikes outside of the safe range.
Conclusion: Existing ITPs widely utilized for rehabilitation of baseball pitchers exhibit significantly inconsistent variation in the rate of throwing load progression. Computational modeling may facilitate more incremental workload progression in ITPs, thereby reducing injury during rehabilitation and more efficiently condition a pitcher for return to competition.
Level of Evidence: 3b