Scapular-Positioning Patterns During Humeral Elevation in Unimpaired Shoulders

Document Type


Publication Date



Objective: To assess scapular-positioning patterns using a static measurement technique.

Design and Setting: We used a 4–within-factor design to compare scapular upward rotation among subjects. The within factors included side (dominant, nondominant), plane of motion (scapular, sagittal), direction of motion (ascending, descending), and level of humeral rotation (rest, 30°, 60°, 90°, 120°).

Subjects: Twenty-seven subjects with unimpaired shoulders.

Measurements: We measured scapular position and glenohumeral range of motion using a digital inclinometer and goniometer, respectively. All measurements were performed bilaterally.

Results: Between-session repeatability was poor to excellent depending on humeral-elevation angle. The scapular plane demonstrated significantly more scapular upward rotation than did the sagittal plane at 120° of humeral elevation.

Conclusions: The scapula demonstrated a consistent pattern of downward rotation initially from rest to 30° of humeral elevation, followed by an upward rotation after 30° of humeral elevation to the highest level (120°). Scapular upward rotation is greater in the scapular plane than in the sagittal plane. Therefore, overhead rehabilitation exercises should be performed in the scapular plane, especially in subjects with rotator cuff tendinopathy.


Copyright © 2003 by the National Athletic Trainers’ Association, Inc.