Three-Dimensional Scapular Kinematics during the Throwing Motion

in Journal of Applied Biomechanics
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Proper scapular motion is crucial for normal shoulder mechanics. Scapular motion affects glenohumeral joint function during throwing, yet little is known about this dynamic activity. Asymptomatic subjects (10 male and 10 female), ages 21 to 45, were analyzed. Electromagnetic surface sensors on the sternum, acromion, and humerus were used to collect 3-D motion data during three trials of low-velocity throwing. Scapular angular position data were described for five predetermined events throughout the throw corresponding with classic descriptions of throwing phases, and trial-to-trial reliability was determined. ANOVA compared scapular angles across events. Subjects demonstrated good to excellent reliability between trials of the throw (ICC 0.74–0.98). The scapula demonstrated a pattern of external rotation, upward rotation (peak of approx. 40°), and posterior tilting during the initial phases of the throw, progressing into internal rotation after maximum humeral horizontal abduction. During the arm acceleration phase, the scapula moved toward greater internal rotation and began anteriorly tilting. At maximum humeral internal rotation, the scapula ended in internal rotation (55°), upward rotation (20°), and anterior tilting (3°).

The authors were with the Program in Physical Therapy, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN; Meyer is now with the Institute for Athletic Medicine, Minneapolis, MN.