What is Transfer of Load and How is it Used in Sports?

Transfer of load is something many people can use in their daily movements, but it’s a concept most people are unfamiliar with. Transferring load is as simple as taking the power you produce in one extremity, and transferring it to another extremity to provide more power than the second extremity could produce on its own. Transfer of load is used most often in sports that involve the upper extremities.

Transfer of Load in Sports

For example, if your sport involves throwing, you don’t want all of your strength to come from your shoulder and arm; not only does this put a cap on the amount of power you can put behind the ball, but it also makes you more prone to compensation and injury. Rather, a throwing athlete should generate power in the hips and transfer that power through a stable core, ultimately allowing the power to manifest in the shoulder and leave his body through the ball. 

If you are unable to transfer load, you’re limiting yourself within your sport. Another great example of an athlete that needs to utilize transfer of load is a lineman in football. Imagine trying to block or tackle someone using just the power generated in your arms and hands– you’d have a very hard time creating the appropriate force, not to mention, you’d probably hurt your wrists and elbows. Instead, linemen need to produce power in their legs through a squat, transfer that power through their core, and deliver a blow through their hands. 

In an article by Burnie and colleagues, they reported that non-specific strength training (traditional gym strength exercises that are not specific to their sports) is important for increasing athletes’ muscle size and strength. Thus, it is best for athletes to work on all of their muscles to increase their strength and prevent injuries while playing their sport. 

Issues Occur When Transfer of Load Isn’t Used Correctly

Though this concept is simple, often the foundations to effectively use transfer of load are not in place. When transfer of load is not utilized or is done improperly, the most common thing to happen is an energy leak. A good example of an energy leak is when you think of a baseball pitcher that develops an ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) sprain. If the pitcher can’t properly transfer load, he tries to make up for it by using his upper body.

In this case, he tried to use his elbow to generate a more powerful pitch; this puts a huge amount of stress on the elbow and can cause the UCL to stretch or even completely tear. When this ligament needs to be repaired, the athlete undergoes Tommy John’s surgery, a surgery you’ve probably heard of because of how common it is in baseball players. This UCL damage and surgery could be avoided if the player simply learned how to transfer power from the lower extremity, instead of trying to generate the force from his elbow.

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At The Rehab Docs, our focus is getting you out of pain and keeping you out of pain. We do this by teaching you how to properly use your body. Our mission is to find a tailored ideal function for each athlete and provide Chiropractic Care services to promote the skill, endurance, strength, and speed of all patients so they are able to improve their quality of life. Give us a call today at 843-834-6406 to schedule an appointment with our team because your body deserves the best care.