Scapulothoracic muscle fatigue associated with alterations in scapulohumeral rhythm kinematics during maximum resistive shoulder elevation

J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 1998 Aug;28(2):74-80. doi: 10.2519/jospt.1998.28.2.74.


Clinical examinations and biomechanical analysis of the shoulder often include an assessment of the scapulohumeral rhythm. It is important to understand factors which may affect the scapulohumeral rhythm so that optimal diagnostic and therapeutic strategies can be devised. The purpose of this study was to determine if the scapulohumeral rhythm, when assessed under dynamic conditions, is altered as a result of a fatigue-inducing exercise. Twenty-five subjects were required to elevate their arm against maximum resistance until they were no longer able to completely elevate their arm. Three-dimensional kinematics were measured using an electromagnetic tracking system. Electromyographic activity was recorded from the upper trapezius, lower trapezius, serratus anterior, and the middle deltoid muscles. Power frequency spectrum using the Fast Fourier Transform and the root mean square signal amplitudes were determined for each muscle. The scapulohumeral rhythm was determined using least squares regressions of humeral elevation to scapular upward rotation for 20% intervals (phases) of elevation for each subject. The results showed that during the midrange of elevation to maximum elevation [phases 3-5 (60-150 degrees)], the scapulohumeral rhythm decreased with fatigue, and that the decrease in the scapulohumeral rhythm was associated with myoelectric indicators of fatigue (median power frequency). The study suggests that shoulder fatigue affects the way in which the scapula moves concomitantly with the humerus. Fatigue tends to result in increased motion of the scapula, which alters the scapulohumeral rhythm.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Electromyography
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Contraction / physiology
  • Muscle Fatigue / physiology*
  • Pectoralis Muscles / physiology*
  • Periodicity
  • Posture
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Reference Values
  • Shoulder Joint / physiology*