Scapular movement training versus standardized exercises for individuals with chronic shoulder pain: protocol for a randomized controlled trial

Braz J Phys Ther. 2021 Mar-Apr;25(2):221-229. doi: 10.1016/j.bjpt.2020.08.001. Epub 2020 Aug 18.


Background: Scapular focused exercise interventions are frequently used to treat individuals with shoulder pain. However, evidence for changes in scapular motion after intervention is limited.

Objective: To compare the effects of scapular movement training versus standardized exercises for individuals with shoulder pain.

Methods: This will be a single-blinded randomized controlled trial. Sixty-four individuals with shoulder pain for at least 3 months, scapular dyskinesis, and a positive scapular assistance test will be randomly allocated to one of two groups: Scapular Movement Training (group 1) and Standardized Exercises (group 2). Group 1 will receive education about scapular position and movement, and be trained to modify the scapular movement pattern. Group 2 will perform stretching and strengthening exercises. Both groups will be treated twice a week for eight weeks. Three-dimensional scapular kinematics and muscle activity of the serratus anterior and upper, middle, and lower trapezius during elevation and lowering of the arm will be assessed at baseline and after 8 weeks of treatment. Pain intensity, function, fear avoidance beliefs, and kinesiophobia will be assessed at baseline and after 4 and 8 weeks of treatment, and 4 weeks after the end of treatment.

Conclusions: The results of this study may contribute to a better understanding of the efficacy of scapular focused treatments for individuals with shoulder pain.

Clinical trial registration: NCT03528499.

Keywords: Movement; Physical therapy; Rehabilitation; Scapula.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial Protocol
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Biomechanical Phenomena / physiology
  • Dyskinesias / physiopathology
  • Exercise
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Humans
  • Movement / physiology
  • Scapula / physiology*
  • Shoulder Pain / physiopathology*
  • Superficial Back Muscles / physiology*

Associated data