In 1989, Dr. James Andrews started the American Sports Medicine Institute with the aim to help baseball players reduce injury. Twenty-four years later, the ASMI biomechanical laboratory continues to mix scientific equations and biology with their advanced knowledge of sports to find the most efficient ways for athletes to perform.
With 8 Cy Young Award winners to their name, the biomechanical laboratory tests athletes of all levels to see where they rank among the elite pitchers and what needs to be changed in their mechanics to achieve better results.
The biomechanical laboratory provides feedback you won't get in an everyday baseball practice.
"Biomechanics is 'bio' biology and mechanics," said ASMI research director, Dr. Glenn Fleisig. "It's using the laws of physics to see what the best way is for a person to move. If we can make someone's mechanics as good as possible then they will minimize the chances of getting hurt and also maximize their performance."
For the biomechnical evaluation, 38 reflective markers are placed on each athlete then the 8 infrared cameras around the laboratory are each used to capture those reflective markers at 450 pictures-a-second which the computer then uses to create the data.
"Now we have the ability on our phones to video a guy in slowmotion and put it into analysis then measure angles," said Samford head baseball coach, Casey Dunn. "The speed and the slow motion that they can show us on the video angle and also just to be able to get the different measurements and comparisons. Our kids are accustomed to utilitzing technology. The more we can mesh the old school coaching aspect with the new technology the better its going to be for our athletes."
Which in term eliminates costly pitching flaws.
"In the baseball world, it's said that you need 180-degrees between your internal and external rotation," said Samord pitcher, Mark Donham, who recently tested at ASMI. "Right now they say that I'm at 160-degrees, so I'm lacking 20-degrees (in my rotation). (ASMI) said that's mostly from my internal rotation."
The American Sports Medicine Institute has made a number of discoveries in baseball through testing. One of their research projects tested the fast ball versus the curve ball. ASMI found that the fast ball uses the same amount of force as the curveball if not more.
ASMI has also compared successful youth pitchers to professional pitchers and found that they use similar mechanics the only difference is that successful younger pitchers are more inconsistent. Most recently ASMI tested the long toss in rehabbing pitchers. They found that throwing on flat ground is similar mechanically to pitching, but once the long toss is thrown on a mound there is more force which causes a mechanics breakdown creating a less than ideal situation for a rehabbing pitcher.
But, the lab's reserach doesn't just stop with baseball--it has even changed how orthopedic surgeons work in the operating room.
"It's amazing how much we apply basic science to clinical practice," said ASMI orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Jeffrey R. Dugas. "(ASMI researched has helped us understand) what different tissues in our body can withstand (and about) their ultimate strengths and failure loads. My ability to understand the mechanics of throwing has certainly influenced how we treat patients (including) the strength of the repair we look for (and) the way we do things in the operating room."
The ASMI biomechanical laboratory is open to anyone, but they do charge a fee. The goal of the biomechanical lab is injury prevention. If you want more information about the biomechanical lab or want to get tested you can visit their website: www.ASMI.org.
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