Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


W.M. Keck Science Department

Reader 1

Dan Guthrie

Reader 2

Donald McFarlane


Correct muscular activation of the body segments during an overhand throw is achieved when movement originates in the larger and more proximal legs and trunk and moves sequentially to the smaller, distal segments of the shoulder and arm. This sequence permits angular velocity to transfer progressively through the throw as part of an open kinetic chain. The athlete can summate angular velocity and segmental forces only if he is able to create a separation between the body segments during the movement pattern, and this separation is thus essential to effective segmental sequencing for activation of the trunk muscles to occur separately from distal segment motion. Limited mobility of the shoulder and scapula during the kinematic sequence will limit the ability of that segment to receive and contribute to the angular velocity of its proximal neighbors and to apply its own muscle torque to the throwing implement. This may result in compensatory motion of the proximal muscle groups to meet the demands placed on the body. To establish a link between compensatory activation of the trunk muscles and mobility in the rotator cuff and to apply this relationship to the pattern of the overhand throw, activity in the latissimus dorsi and external oblique/quadratus lumborum muscles was measured using surface electromyography in 40 college-age participants during arm flexion and lateral shoulder rotation. Muscle activation was recorded both before and after mobilization of relevant throwing muscles through targeted functional exercise. Results showed no significant change but suggested a general decrease in the level of peak muscle activation after participants engaged shoulder exercises. This is indicative of a downward trend in compensatory trunk activation during the initiation of shoulder motion. An increase in overall trunk muscle activity was also observed after exercise, which may imply a simultaneous engagement of the proximal throwing muscles in response to shoulder motion.