This study aimed to assess the effect of lower trapezius (LT) weakness on humeral and scapular kinematics and shoulder muscle activity
during the tennis serve.
Fifteen competitive male tennis players (age, 23.8 ± 3.4 yr; height, 182.8 ± 6.7 cm; mass: 76.6 ± 8.7 kg; tennis experience: 15.6 ± 4.9 yr) performed two tennis serves before and after selective fatigue of the LT (25-min electric muscle stimulation). During each tennis serve, racket, humeral and scapular kinematics and the activity of 13 shoulder muscles were recorded using an optoelectronic system synchronized with indwelling and surface electromyography. The serve was split into five phases, that is, early and late cocking, acceleration, early and late follow-through.
Selective fatigue led to a 22.5% ± 10.4% strength decrease but did not alter maximum racket speed and humerothoracic joint
kinematics. However, increased scapular upward rotation was observed in the acceleration (P
= 0.02) and early follow-through (P
= 0.01) phases. Decreased muscular activity was observed during the early cocking phase for the LT (P
= 0.01), during the acceleration phase for the LT (P
= 0.01), anterior deltoid (P
= 0.03), pectoralis major (P
= 0.04), and subscapularis (P
= 0.03), and during the early follow-through phase for the anterior deltoid (P
= 0.03) and LT (P
The LT weakness altered neither serve velocity nor humerothoracic joint
kinematics, but impaired scapulothoracic kinematics and anterior shoulder muscle activation. Such alterations may reduce the subacromial space and jeopardize humeral head stability. These findings shed new light on the consequences of LT weakness, highlighting the importance of monitoring and strengthening this muscle in overhead athletes.