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Alterations in Scapular Position with Fatigue: A Study in Swimmers

Nuala Crotty, N. M. MD; Smith, Jay MD

Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine: October 2000 - Volume 10 - Issue 4 - p 251-258
Clinical Investigations

Objective To use two commonly accepted measurement techniques to determine whether intense swimming exercise altered scapular position in male high school swimmers. Scapular position differences between dominant and nondominant shoulders were also investigated.

Design A pilot study on 10 asymptomatic male volunteers established the reliability of the scapular position measurement techniques described by DiVeta and Kibler (intratester intraclass correlation coefficients 0.86–0.98). Scapular position was prospectively recorded before and after swimming practice just prior to tapering for championship competition.

Participants Twenty male high school swimmers from two local teams, ages 13 to 18 years.

Interventions Subjects completed their usual 2-hour swimming practice at the peak of their training intensity.

Main Outcome Measures Change in scapular position preexercise versus postexercise.

Results Scapular position did not change preexercise to postexercise for either the DiVeta (22.2 ± 1.4 to 22.3 ± 1.5 cm, p = 0.96) or Kibler (9.2 ± 1.4 to 9.4 ± 1.3 cm, p = 1.00) measures. Nondominant preexercise scapular position was generally more medial and moved laterally with exercise, becoming roughly equivalent to the dominant shoulder.

Conclusion The DiVeta and Kibler scapular position measurement techniques are acceptably reliable. However these techniques generally failed to demonstrate significant changes in scapular position after intense swimming exercise in the study population. Nondominant side scapulae typically moved laterally postexercise. These findings and implications are discussed.

Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, U.S.A.

Received September 14, 1999; accepted August 9, 2000.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Jay Smith, MD, Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, Mayo Clinic, 200 First Street SW, Rochester, MN 55905, U.S.A.

© 2000 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.