Stretching and strengthening exercises: their effect on three-dimensional scapular kinematics

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 1999 Aug;80(8):923-9. doi: 10.1016/s0003-9993(99)90084-9.


Objective: To quantitatively evaluate the effects of commonly used shoulder exercises on shoulder kinematics and resting posture.

Study design: A repeated-measures design was used with measurements performed before and after a 6-week exercise program.

Method: Twenty asymptomatic subjects with forward shoulder posture were recruited. Stretching exercises for the pectoral muscles and resisted strengthening exercises for the scapular retractors and elevators and the glenohumeral abductors and external rotators were performed three times per week for 6 weeks. A three-dimensional electromechanical digitizer was used to measure thoracic inclination and scapular orientation and position. These measurements were taken with the arm (1) at the side, (2) abducted to 90 degrees, and (3) at maximal abduction. The isometric force of glenohumeral external and internal rotation and horizontal abduction and adduction were measured with a hand-held dynamometer. All subjects were tested before and after the 6-week exercise program. Hotelling's T2 and paired t tests were used for data analysis.

Results: The strength of horizontal abduction and internal and external rotation increased after exercise (p < .01). The anterior inclination of the thoracic spine decreased, and the glenohumeral contribution to arm elevation increased (p < .01). Resting scapular posture did not change. As the arm was abducted to 90 degrees, the scapula showed less upward rotation and less superior translation after the exercise program (p < .01).

Conclusion: The exercise program improved muscle strength, produced a more erect upper trunk posture, increased scapular stability, and altered scapulohumeral rhythm.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Exercise Therapy / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Isometric Contraction
  • Male
  • Pectoralis Muscles / physiopathology
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Scapula / physiopathology*
  • Shoulder