Comparison of glenohumeral joint laxity in elite and recreational swimmers

Clin J Sport Med. 1996 Jan;6(1):40-7. doi: 10.1097/00042752-199601000-00009.


Objective: To investigate whether glenohumeral joint (GHJ) hyperlaxity is related to swimming training volume, we evaluated elite and recreational swimmers for differences in GHJ laxity and general joint hypermobility (GJH).

Participants: Thirty male and female elite swimmers, aged 15-25 years, were compared with 30 recreational swimmers on five clinical GHJ laxity tests. GJH was assessed based on evaluation of hypermobility in four other joints or joint combinations.

Outcome measures: Group differences in both GHJ laxity and GJH were analyzed using chi 2 analysis.

Results: Compared with the recreational swimmers, the elite swimmers demonstrated significantly greater GJH, as well as significantly greater GHJ laxity on three of five laxity tests. The specific patterns of greater GHJ laxity demonstrated by the elite swimmers versus the recreational swimmers favour an acquired origin for these laxity differences, while the results of the GJH assessment suggest that these laxity differences are inherent.

Conclusions: It was concluded that a combination of acquired and inherent factors contributes to the greater GHJ laxity demonstrated in elite swimmers. We discuss the implications of this study for the prevention of shoulder overuse dysfunction (SOD) in elite swimmers.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Joint Instability / diagnosis
  • Joint Instability / etiology*
  • Leisure Activities*
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Risk Factors
  • Shoulder Joint / injuries*
  • Swimming / injuries*