Scapular positioning and motor control in children and adults: a laboratory study using clinical measures

Man Ther. 2011 Apr;16(2):155-60. doi: 10.1016/j.math.2010.09.002. Epub 2010 Oct 14.


Introduction: The scapular muscular system is the major determinant of scapular positioning. In addition, strength and muscular endurance develops from childhood through adolescence. It is not known whether differences in scapular positioning and motor control between adults and children may exist.

Methods: Ninety-two shoulders of 46 adults (mean = 39.4; 18-86 years; SD = 22.5), and 116 shoulders of 59 children (mean = 11.6; 6-17 years; SD = 3.5), were included in the study. Scapular positioning data were collected using a clinical assessment protocol including visual observation of titling and winging, measurement of forward shoulder posture, measurement of scapular upward rotation, and the Kinetic Medial Rotation Test (KMRT).

Results: The observation protocol for scapular winging and tilting did not show significant differences between adults and children. After controlling for height, forward shoulder posture (relaxed (0.28 cm/cm (0.06) vs. 0.31 cm/cm (0.07) and retracted (0.15 cm/cm (0.05) vs. 0.20 cm/cm (0.06)) were significantly smaller in children than in adults (P < 0.01). In addition, children showed greater scapular upward rotation (18.6°; SD 9.6°) than adults (14.5°; SD 10.9°) at 90° shoulder abduction. No significant differences were seen between children (19% positive test) and adults (24% positive test) using the KMRT.

Conclusion: Children and adults show significant but small differences in scapular upward rotation and forward shoulder posture. These data provide useful reference values using a clinical protocol.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Skills*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology
  • Posture*
  • Rotation
  • Scapula / physiology*
  • Shoulder / physiology*
  • Shoulder Joint