We found clear evidence for the role of elasticity in high speed throwing. Some primates, including chimpanzees, occasionally throw objects such as rocks, but only humans routinely throw with high speed and accuracy. Are there morphological features that underlie the superior throwing ability of humans? We used experimental studies of humans throwing projectiles, and mechanical estimates of power output at joints to show that our throwing capabilities largely result from anatomical features that enable elastic energy storage and release at the shoulder. We hypothesized that elastic energy storage is central to human throwing, and designed an experiment to quantify elastic energy storage. By providing clear evidence for elastic energy storage in the shoulder, this study has helped researchers interested in shoulder injuries to focus on specific musculoskeletal elements.

Related projects include:

  • Accurate control of project release in throwing.
  • Maximal height jumping (throwing self!).
Project number: