Context:

Scapular dyskinesis is a shoulder dysfunction that can be asymptomatic or associated with pain or weakness. Reduced strength and fatigue resistance of the scapular protractor and retractors muscles that stabilize the scapula might contribute to dyskinesis.

Objective:

To determine the strength and fatigue resistance profiles of subjects with symptomatic and asymptomatic scapular dyskinesis, and to compare them to healthy controls using isokinetic assessment.

Design:

Cross-sectional study.

Setting:

University Hospital

Participants:

Twenty healthy controls and 21 overhead athletes with symptomatic (n=10) and asymptomatic (n=11) scapular dyskinesis.

Main Outcome Measures:

Strength (peak torque, maximum work), fatigue resistance (total work) and protraction/retraction ratios measured during a closed-chain isokinetic protocol (40 repetitions in concentric mode at 24.4 cm/s).

Results:

The scapular protractors’ strength and fatigue resistance were significantly higher (p<0.01) in healthy controls (peak torque: 5.0±0.9 N/Kg; maximum work: 2.4±0.5 J/Kg; total work: 72.4±0.6 J/Kg) than in asymptomatic (peak torque: 3.4±0.7 N/Kg; maximum work: 1.7±0.4 J/Kg; total work: 50.0±13.7 J/Kg) and symptomatic (peak torque: 3.8±0.6 N/Kg; maximum work: 1.8±0.3 J/Kg; total work: 58.1±12.9 J/Kg) dyskinetic participants. The dyskinetic symptomatic group presented the highest retractors’ strength and fatigue resistance (p<0.01) values (peak torque: 5.2±0.6 N/Kg; maximum work: 2.9±0.8 J/Kg; total work: 87.7±22.7 J/Kg) followed by the healthy controls (peak torque: 4.7±1.0 N/Kg; maximum work: 2.1±0.5 J/Kg; total work: 65.3±17.9 J/Kg) and the asymptomatic dyskinetic participants (peak torque: 3.9±1.0 N/Kg; maximum work: 1.9±0.6 J/Kg; total work: 58.6±18.5 J/Kg). The protraction / retraction ratios showed a gradual decrease (p<0.001) from healthy controls (1.1) to asymptomatic (0.9) and symptomatic (0.7) dyskinetic subjects.

Conclusions:

Scapular dyskinesis is characterized by weaker scapular protractors and reduced agonist/antagonist ratios, especially when symptomatic. Targeting the scapular protractors for a better balance of scapular musculature in rehabilitation and strengthening programs may improve shoulder symptoms and function, but more interventional studies are required.

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Author notes

Géraldine Martens: [email protected] ; Twitter @MartensGege

Amandine Gofflot: [email protected]

Camille Tooth: [email protected] ; Twitter @ToothCamille

Cédric Schwartz: [email protected]

Stephen Bornheim : [email protected]

Jean-Louis Croisier: [email protected]

Jean-François Kaux: [email protected] ; Twitter @JFKaux

Bénédicte Forthomme: [email protected]

*These authors contributed equally