The shoulder complex has a larger range of motion (ROM) than any other joint complex in the human body, leaving it prone to numerous injuries. Objective kinematic analysis could yield useful functional insights that may assist clinical practice. Non-invasive optoelectronic motion analysis techniques have been used to assess the shoulders of five healthy subjects performing ROM tasks and 10 functional tasks of daily living. The four most demanding tasks - touching the side and back of the head, brushing the opposite side of the head, lifting an object to shoulder height and lifting an object to head height, required 78%, 60%, 61% and 71%, respectively, of the glenohumeral elevation necessary for full abduction in the scapular plane for the 10 shoulders. This has implications for clinical practice where maximum arm elevation is commonly used to determine a patient's ability to return to work and other everyday activities.