The use of closed kinetic chain exercise has grown in the past several years. Closed kinetic chain exercises for the lower extremity have been firmly established in the literature and have been strongly recommended as an integral part of rehabilitation of the patient with anterior cruciate ligament injury. While the scientific and clinical rationale for using closed kinetic chain exercise for the lower extremity appears obvious, the scientific rationale for using closed kinetic chain exercise for the upper extremity is less clear. The purpose of this manuscript is to discuss the scientific rationale for closed kinetic chain for the upper extremity patient. In addition, exercise drills to enhance dynamic stability of the glenohumeral joint are discussed, and a rationale for using these exercises for specific glenohumeral joint pathologies is provided. The concepts of closed and open kinetic chain as applied to the lower extremity may not apply to the upper extremity due to the unique anatomical and biomechanical features as well as the function of the shoulder. It is recommended that clinicians use both closed kinetic chain and open kinetic chain exercises when treating the shoulder patient.
Kevin E. Wilk is with HEALTHSOUTH Sports Medicine & Rehabilitation Center, 1201 11th Ave. South, Suite 100, Birmingham, AL 35205. Christopher A. Arrigo is with HEALTHSOUTH Sports Medicine, Arlington, TX 76011. James R. Andrews is with the American Sports Medicine Institute, Birmingham, AL 35205.