Scapular Dyskinesis in Young, Asymptomatic Elite Swimmers

Orthop J Sports Med. 2018 Jan 23;6(1):2325967117750814. doi: 10.1177/2325967117750814. eCollection 2018 Jan.


Background: Overhead athletes are at a greater risk of developing scapular dyskinesis (SD). Although swimming is considered an overhead sport, information regarding SD in these athletes is scarce.

Purpose: To determine the prevalence of SD in young, asymptomatic elite swimmers.

Study design: Cross-sectional study; Level of evidence, 3.

Methods: A total of 661 asymptomatic elite swimmers were enrolled in this study (344 male, 317 female; mean age, 15.83 ± 2.20 years). Anthropometric characteristics, training routine, and stroke specialty were recorded. SD was assessed using a dynamic test consisting of an examination of the shoulder blades throughout synchronous forward flexion motion in the sagittal plane and was deemed to be either present or absent. Each movement was repeated 5 times. These evaluations were performed with athletes at rest, before any training or competition. Statistical analysis was performed.

Results: SD was detected in 56 (8.5%) participants. Type I SD was the most common (46.5%); male participants were 2 times as likely to have SD as female participants (39 male, 17 female; P < .01). No correlation was found between the dominant limb and side affected (P = .258); rather, a correlation was found between the breathing side and side affected, in that swimmers with a preferred breathing side were more prone to develop SD in the opposite shoulder (P < .05). Swimmers involved in long-distance races were found to have a greater risk of developing SD (P = .01).

Conclusion: SD may be an asymptomatic condition in elite young swimmers and is present in 8.5% of these athletes. Early diagnosis may be useful for asymptomatic athletes with SD and to avoid its possible evolution to a symptomatic condition.

Keywords: asymptomatic; athletes; dyskinesis; elite; overhead; pain; scapula; scapular dyskinesis; shoulder; swimmers; swimming; symptomatic; young.