Scapulohumeral Rhythm Exercises

Article by John Miller

What is Scapulohumeral Rhythm?

scapulohumeral rhythm

Your shoulder-scapula joint motion has a normal functional motion patterns known as scapulohumeral rhythm - to provide you with pain-free and powerful shoulder function. When elevating your shoulder overhead roughly one-third of your shoulder motion occurs at your scapulothoracic joint and two-thirds at the glenohumeral joint. However, it is the timing and coordination of your shoulder muscles and how they control your scapulohumeral rhythm that is the most important factor.

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Alteration of this normal scapulohumeral movement pattern results in shoulder injuries, pain and impingement.

Shoulder Joint Anatomy

scapulohumeral rhythm exercises
Your shoulder motion occurs via a complex group of joints that involves dynamically controls the motion of three bones (scapula, humerus and clavicle) upon your ribcage. 
Your shoulder blade (scapula) is the triangular centralised base for your shoulder and arm movements. Your scapula is guided by your scapular muscles as it articulates around your rib cage. This motion is known as scapulothoracic motion.

Your clavicle or collarbone is the only skeletal attachment of your arm. It attaches to your upper sternum and the lateral edge of your scapula at the acromioclavicular (AC) joint.

Your main shoulder ball and socket joint is the glenohumeral joint where your upper arm bone (humerus) articulates on the glenoid fossa of your scapula.

What are the Symptoms or Abnormal Scapulohumeral Rhythm?

Poor shoulder blade stability results in abnormal tipping and rotation of your scapular, which causes your acromion (bone) to pinch down into the subacromial structures (eg bursa and tendons) causing impingement leading to swelling or tears.

Typically signs of abnormal scapulohumeral rhythm includes shoulder pain, instability and clicking. Researchers have identified abnormal scapulohumeral rhythm as a major cause of rotator cuff impingement.

Your shoulder physiotherapist is an expert in the assessment of scapulohumeral rhythm. They will observe your shoulder motion and perform strength and control tests to assist their diagnosis.

X-rays, MRI’s, ultrasound scans and CT scan are unable to determine scapulohumeral rhythm dysfunction.

Scapulohumeral Rhythm Correction

Your physiotherapist is an expert in the assessment and correction of your scapulohumeral rhythm. Any deficiencies will be an important component of your rehabilitation.

Among other treatment options teaching you how to dynamically control your shoulder blade via scapular stabilisation exercises is a key ingredient for a successful rehabilitation.

Your physiotherapist will be able to guide you in the appropriate exercises for your shoulder.

Restore Normal Neck-Scapulo-Thoracic-Shoulder Function

You may find it difficult to comprehend that your neck and upper back (thoracic spine) are also very important in the rehabilitation of shoulder pain and injury. Neck or spine dysfunction can not only refer pain directly to your shoulder, but it can affect a nerve’s electrical energy supplying your muscles cause weakness.

Plus, painful spinal structures from poor posture or injury doesn’t provide your shoulder or scapular muscles with a solid pain-free base to act upon.In most cases, especially chronic shoulders, some treatment directed at your neck or upper back will be required to ease your pain, improve your shoulder movement and stop pain or injury returning.

More information

For more information, please consult your physiotherapist with a special interest in shoulder rehabilitation.

Your physiotherapist will be able to guide you in the appropriate exercises for your shoulder.

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Exercises - Scapular Stabilisers

Related Treatment Information

  • Early Injury Treatment
  • Core Exercises
  • Scapular Stabilisation Exercises
  • Active Foot Posture Correction Exercises
  • Gait Analysis
  • Biomechanical Analysis
  • Balance Enhancement Exercises
  • Proprioception & Balance Exercises
  • Agility & Sport-Specific Exercises
  • Medications?
  • Real Time Ultrasound Physiotherapy
  • Soft Tissue Massage
  • Electrotherapy & Local Modalities
  • Heat Packs
  • Joint Mobilisation Techniques
  • Kinesiology Tape
  • Neurodynamics
  • Physiotherapy Instrument Mobilisation (PIM)
  • Prehabilitation
  • Running Analysis
  • Strength Exercises
  • Stretching Exercises
  • Supportive Taping & Strapping
  • TENS Machine
  • Video Analysis
  • Shoulder Injuries

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    Last updated 24-Mar-2015 10:52 PM

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