What a World Champion Thrower Can Teach Us About Biomechanics

author - melissa witmer throwing

During my European travels, I visited Christian Sandstrom in Gotesburg Sweden. Christian has spent time as a professional disc golfer. From 2002-2012 he held the distance record in throwing a disc. That is a long time to hold a record! So Christian knows throwing. He was also part of a group of freestylers sponsored by Nike who traveled and showcased their skills on beaches all over the US.  Another claim to fame is that he starred in this Nike Stickman Freestyle commercial as the stick man.  Meaning, many of the movements of the stick man are actually Christian.

Christian is currently a chiropractor specializing in sports medicine. So Christian also knows bio mechanics.

I spent a few days visiting Christian at his place of work. In these two videos,Christian and I dissect the basic bio mechanics of throwing backhands and forehands. If you want to learn how to use the kinetic chain from the ground up to get the most power from your throws, check out the videos below!

Kinetic Chain and Shoulder Injury

Many players suffer with rotator cuff issues. Injuries in the rotator cuff usually originate from problems starting elsewhere.  In this video Christian explains how the inability to get incomplete hip extension can cause over-extension in the spine and added stress on the rotator cuff.


Basic Biomechanics of Throwing

In these three videos, Christian and I discuss the basic biomechanics of the forehand, backhand, and hammer. A consistent theme here is that proper throwing motion is a complex chain of events that involves the whole body.  Throwing is about loading and unloading in every part of the kinetic chain.

These videos will make the most sense if you watch them in order.  The backhand video covers some of the terminology used in the following videos. I’ll warn you that we use some slightly technical biomechanical jargon in these videos.  If you have questions about what any of it means, ask in the comments below and I’ll try to explain in more basic English.


In this video we start with a quick description of the three planes of motion and how we move in the three planes in the different types of throws. We also cover the basic concepts of the loading and deloading phase, deceleration and acceleration.


One of the most common errors of beginning to intermediate throwers is not involving the hips in the throwing action of the forehand.  In this video we the importance of hip rotation in the throwing of the flick.

In this video Christian puts me in what looks like some awkward positions.  A more realistic, real-time view of hip rotation is really well exhibited in Mick Stukes Play Better Ultimate video on the forehand.  Start at 5:20 to see how the loading and unloading process of the hips that Christian and I are talking about.  You also might observe that there is much more rotation than many players are used to using.  I’d love to hear what you think about your own forehand windup in the comments below.



The hammer throw involves flexion and extention (bending and straightening) of the ankle, hip, and upper spine. When all of these things are working properly, you have the best chance of throwing far without developing overuse injuries in the shoulder. Less than optimal function can be the cause of pain in the lower back, tightness in the shoulders, or tightness and pain in the neck.


In this video, Christian mentions the effects of tightness in the hip flexor.  Everyone who works at a desk job should be doing this hip flexor stretch at least once a day to reverse the effects of hip flexor shortening.