The Sports Medicine & Movement Laboratory within the School of Kinesiology at Auburn University, Auburn Alabama was established in 2012 under the direction of Associate Professor Dr. Gretchen Oliver, FACSM, ATC, LAT, CES. Since that time, the lab has excelled in an injury prevention and performance enhancement innovation initiative. Dr. Oliver has a broad background in sports medicine, particularly rehabilitation of athletic injury, as well as biomechanics. Dr. Oliver has taken her knowledge of rehabilitation as well as movement mechanics and applied those principles to the development of injury prevention programs for throwing athletes. The Sports Medicine & Movement Laboratory aims to disseminate injury prevention and performance enhancement knowledge, encourage athletic performance, and ultimately improve sport with innovative initiatives.
SOFTBALL INITIATIVE: Pain History & Throwing Mechanics
Since Spring of 2016 the Sports Medicine & Movement Laboratory has hosted 17 NCAA softball teams (total of 85 athletes utilizing the lab) with three of these teams ranking in the top 20 consecutive years. These teams represent 9 conferences: SEC, Pac 10, Big 12, Southwestern, Southern, Big South, The Southland, Ivy League, Northeastern, and Sun Belt. During the 2017 season many of these athletes were ranked among the NCAA Top 20, with three ranking in the top 10 of NCAA most victorious pitchers. Additionally, 2 were ranked in the NCAA top 20 for hits allowed, and 3 ranked in NCAA top 20 for strikeouts per 7 innings.
Over the past two years the Sports Medicine & Movement Laboratory has also hosted two pitchers who earned spots in the NCAA top 20 for most shutouts and strikeouts. In addition to colligate players we have hosted Team USA, a player from Team Canada, and players from National Pro Fastpitch League.
This past July 2017 I had the opportunity to observe USA Softball pitchers in the Sports Medicine & Movement. The process was very unique. Each pitcher had hip and shoulder range of motion testing and strength screening prior to pitching mechanics analysis. Approximately 9 electrodes were attached to the pitchers. Using 3D motion analysis methodologies, a skeleton was constructed of each pitcher. The skeleton depicted the individual’s limb measurements (such as: arm & leg lengths and hip and shoulder width and center of rotations). Once the electrodes were all attached, the pitchers were instructed throw three of each of their pitches to a catcher located regulation distance. From analysis data, Dr. Oliver was then able to give information such as segmental velocities and accelerations, joint forces as well as segmental positions throughout the pitch.
From my visit and learning from Dr. Oliver, I found that I was warming up my pitchers completely wrong. Most of my contacts are from the baseball world and they spend a lot of time warming up the shoulders. For girls, the hips are the most important body part used in our pitching motion. The shoulder and hip have a similar range of motion and can be warmed up with similar type exercise. Glute activation has become an intrigue part in my pitchers success in my pitching lab and have seen similar improvements across baseball pitchers through my Athlete Assessments.
The video below is how I use the CoachataClick Mini Bands to warm up the hips before pitching practice and games. CoachataClick Mini Bands are available in the online store.
Youth Injury Prevention & Performance Enhancement Outreach Program
The Sports Medicine & Movement Lab welcomes youth baseball and softball athletes (catchers, pitchers, & position players) to participate in ongoing throwing research in attempt to establish normative data as well as injury prevention programs. Athletes will receive a throwing analysis for their participation in the research study.
The Sports Medicine & Movement Lab is also affiliated with the Professional Health Organization STOP Sports Injuries. The STOP Sports Injuries campaign also includes the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, American Academy of Pediatrics, National Athletic Trainers’ Association, National Strength and Conditioning Association, American Medical Society for Sports Medicine and SAFE Kids USA.
To participate in the research studies with the Sports Medicine & Movement Lab you can contact Dr. Oliver at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also get more information about the lab at http://www.sportsmedicineandmovement.com/ or you can view some of the research that has been published at https://scholar.google.com/citations?user=ae6HxHgAAAAJ&hl=en