Specificity of the lateral scapular slide test in asymptomatic competitive athletes

J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2003 Jun;33(6):331-6. doi: 10.2519/jospt.2003.33.6.331.


Study design: A prospective, criterion-based specificity study.

Objective: To determine the specificity of the lateral scapular slide test (LSST) in detecting shoulder dysfunction in the competitive athlete.

Background: The LSST was introduced in an attempt to objectively measure scapular stabilizer strength at varying amounts of load. Measurements between the inferior angle of the scapula and the closest spinous process are recorded in 3 different test positions. The original study of the LSST established a difference between the involved and noninvolved sides of 1.5 cm or greater in any position as an indication of shoulder dysfunction. In addition, the original sample used to develop the LSST consisted of symptomatic athletes only, with no asymptomatic control group. The LSST was originally based on the assumption that normal shoulder girdle function is symmetrical. However, some research reports that scapular resting position is highly variable between sides.

Methods and measures: The LSST was administered to 38 female and 33 male collegiate athletes who participated in 1-arm-dominant sports. All subjects had no present or past history of scoliosis, or cervical, shoulder, or elbow dysfunction.

Results: Fifty-two of the 71 subjects displayed a difference of at least 1.5 cm in 1 or more of the 3 positions. Specificity of the test was determined to be 26.8%.

Conclusion: Scapular position was commonly asymmetrical in the asymptomatic subjects. These variances in scapular position suggest that asymmetry does not necessarily indicate a dysfunction. The results show that the LSST has low specificity and its use is not recommended for determining shoulder dysfunction in competitive athletes.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Anthropometry / methods*
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Posture / physiology
  • Prospective Studies
  • Range of Motion, Articular / physiology
  • Scapula / anatomy & histology*
  • Scapula / physiology
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Shoulder Joint / physiology
  • Sports Medicine