Int J Sports Med 2014; 35(01): 75-82
DOI: 10.1055/s-0033-1343409
Training & Testing
© Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart · New York

Does Scapular Positioning Predict Shoulder Pain in Recreational Overhead Athletes?

F. Struyf
1  Department of Rehabilitation Sciences and Physio­therapy, University Antwerp, Wilrijk, Belgium
J. Nijs
2  Human Physiology, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium
M. Meeus
3  Rehabilitation Sciences and Physiotherapy, Ghent ­University, Gent, Belgium
N. A. Roussel
4  Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Antwerp, Belgium
S. Mottram
5  Kinetic Control, Kinetic Control Int., London, Belgium
S. Truijen
6  Health Care Sciences, Artesis University College, ­Antwerp, Belgium
R. Meeusen
7  Human Physiology & Sports Medicine, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium
› Author Affiliations
Further Information

Publication History

accepted after revision 07 March 2013

Publication Date:
03 July 2013 (online)


The objective of this prospective study is to investigate possible scapular related risk factors for developing shoulder pain. Therefore, a 2-year follow-up study in a general community sports centre setting was conducted. A sample of convenience of 113 recreational overhead athletes (59 women and 54 men) with a mean age of 34 (17–64; SD 12) years were recruited. At baseline, visual observation for scapular dyskinesis, measured scapular protraction, upward scapular rotation and dynamic scapular control were evaluated. 22% (n=25) of all athletes developed shoulder pain during the 24 months following baseline assessment. The Mean Shoulder Disability Questionnaire (SDQ) score for the painful shoulders was 34.8 (6.3–62.5; SD 17.4). None of the scapular characteristics predicted the development of shoulder pain. However, the athletes that developed shoulder pain demonstrated significantly less upward scapular rotation at 45° (p=0.010) and 90° (p=0.016) of shoulder abduction in the frontal plane at baseline in comparison to the athletes that remained pain-free. In conclusion, although these scapular characteristics are not of predictive value for the development of shoulder pain, this study increases our understanding of the importance of a scapular upward rotation assessment among recreational overhead athletes.