Does scapular positioning predict shoulder pain in recreational overhead athletes?

This prospective study’s goal was 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 showed 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.

While these scapular characteristics are not of predictive value for the development of shoulder pain, this study added to the understanding of the importance of a scapular upward rotation assessment among recreational overhead athletes.