The Influence of Shoe and Cleat Type on Lower Extremity Muscle Activation in Youth Baseball Pitchers

Jacob R. Gdovin, Chip Wade, Lauren A. Luginsland, Charles C. Williams, Riley Galloway, John C. Garner


Background: Baseball pitching is a dynamic movement where the lower extremities generate and sequentially transfer energy to the upper extremities to maximize ball velocity. The need for lower body muscular strength to produce adequate push-off and landing forces has been documented; however, the influence footwear and surface inclination has on muscle activation remains unknown. Objectives: Determine how pitching in molded cleats and turf shoes from a pitching mound and flat ground affects stride-leg muscle activation in youth baseball pitchers while determining percent activation during each pitching phase. Methods: Cross – sectional study analyzing mean muscle activity and percent activation of the vastus medialis, semitendinosus, tibialis anterior, and medial gastrocnemius on the stride-leg of 11 youth baseball pitchers when pitching fastballs. Results: Footwear did not significantly alter vastus medialis or semitendinosus muscle activation (P > 0.05). The turf shoe x pitching mound interaction elicited significantly (P < 0.05) greater mean muscle activity in the medial gastrocnemius and tibialis anterior from stride foot contact to maximum glenohumeral internal rotation. Molded cleats produced greater activation levels in the tibialis anterior on flat ground from stride foot contact (0.374 ± 0.176 mV) to ball release (0.469 ± 0.150 mV). Conclusion: Findings suggest footwear significantly alters the activity level of the ankle stabilizing musculature. Youth baseball pitchers and coaches should be cognizant of what footwear is worn on a pitching surface. Maximal activation of the tibialis anterior and medial gastrocnemius can ensure the stride leg is adequately stabilized to absorb the momentum generated by trail leg.


Shoes, Baseball, Electromyography, Lower Extremity, Muscles, Adolescent

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