Measurement of shoulder joint strength and mobility in common collegiate aged overhead athletes

by Ricci, Robert Daniel

Abstract (Summary)
Introduction: Previous research has stereotyped many overhead athletes as baseball pitchers. Due to the different physiological stresses in each overhead sport, it may not be appropriate to group all overhead athletes together. The objective of this study was to show sport specific physical adaptations in common overhead sports. Methods: Forty-three healthy, male athletes participated in this cross-sectional study; fifteen baseball pitchers, fifteen volleyball athletes, thirteen tennis athletes and fifteen control athletes. Internal rotation (IR) and external rotation (ER) shoulder range of motion (ROM), glenohumeral internal rotation deficit (GIRD), external rotation gain (ERG), posterior shoulder tightness (PST) (supine and side-lying methods), shoulder strength and scapular kinematics were assessed in a neuromuscular research laboratory. ROM was assessed with a goniometer while PST was assessed with a goniometer (supine) and carpenters square (side-lying). Strength was assessed with an isokinetic dynamometer and scapular kinematics with an electromagnetic tracking device. Results: Pitchers had more dominant IR ROM than tennis athletes and less dominant IR ROM than control athletes. Tennis athletes had the lowest IR ROM of all groups included in this study. Volleyball athletes had less dominant IR ROM than control athletes. Pitchers and tennis athletes had more GIRD than control athletes had. Pitchers and tennis athletes had higher between limb differences with the supine method of assessing PST. With the supine assessment, tennis athletes had increased dominant PST compared to control athletes; additionally, all overhead athletes had decreased non-dominant PST. At 90° and 120° humeral elevation, pitchers had the most scapular elevation, volleyball athletes had more elevation than tennis athletes did, and tennis athletes had less elevation than control athletes did. There were no differences in external rotation ROM, total rotation ROM, or strength measures. Conclusion: Not all overhead athletes had the same physical characteristics. The differences between sports in each of the variables could be due to the different amount of physiologic stress on the shoulder in each sport. These results may help to show healthy, sport specific adaptations in each sport. Clinicians should develop sport specific rehabilitation protocols and return to play criteria for athletes to return to play earlier and stronger.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:John P. Abt Ph.D.,ATC; Craig Wassinger MS. PT.; Joseph B. Myers Ph.D., ATC

School:University of Pittsburgh

School Location:USA - Pennsylvania

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:health and rehabilitation sciences


Date of Publication:11/21/2006

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