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Date: January 25, 2023

OnBase University: The Study of Movement Quality for Athletes

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OnBase University (OnBaseU) is an educational organization dedicated to studying movement quality and how it relates to hitting, pitching, fielding, and base running. At Next Era, our Doctors of Physical Therapy are certified OnBaseU specialists, using this information to not only improve the athlete’s current impairments but also to find and treat the root cause of the problem and proactively avoid future injuries. 


An example of a movement we frequently assess is a lunge with extension. This exercise is performed within the distance of the heel to the AC joint when the athlete lies on the ground. After lunging, the front knee must be maintained over the front heel while the shoulders reach 180 degrees of flexion. 


Failing criteria can consist of the following:


  • The inability to reach 180 degrees of shoulder flexion

  • If the shoulders do not reach the popliteal fossa

  • The athlete cannot maintain the lunge position.


Outside of the failing criteria, our Doctors of Physical Therapy also assess stride length, pelvic positioning, and hip extension throughout the movement. Regarding shoulder flexion, we break down the quality of glenohumeral motion, scapular rotation, and thoracic extension. As for gross spine extension, we evaluate uniform spinal curvature and pinpoint movement and what impacts it might have.


From this information, we can hypothesize the reasoning behind the specific impairment, what structures are involved, and what tests can be performed to assess the integrity of these structures. For example, latissimus dorsi length, subscapularis integrity, pectoralis major/minor, decreased upward scapular rotation, or decreased thoracic extension are all movement patterns that contribute to shoulder flexion pain-free ROM or lack thereof. 


Using various active and passive ROM assessments, our Doctors of Physical Therapy can devise a treatment plan to decrease discomfort and increase functional mobility while educating athletes about their impairments to empower them to avoid future injury.

Written by Shawn Armstrong, SPT
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