A systematic review still hot off the press by Burn and associates (2016) has detailed the prevalence of scapula dyskinesis (SD) among overhead athletes. The results they collated across 14 studies indicated that SD is rather common in this group- They found that 61% of overhead athletes displayed scapula dyskinesis versus 33% of non-overhead athletes (the sports included in the overhead sports category were; baseball, volleyball, tennis, softball, water polo, handball, swimming, field events (including javelin throwing, shot put, discus, pole vaulting), badminton, basketball, squash, racquetball, gymnastics, football (quarterback only), soccer (goalkeeper only), wheelchair basketball, lacrosse, and golf).
Unfortunately, and as to be expected, there was not uniformity in how scapula dyskinesis was assessed or defined. However visual observation was used more often than not.
So what does this mean? Scapula dyskinesis is commonly observed in athletes with shoulder injuries, however many non-injured athletes will also display SD. This means that cause and effect are not definite. It is not known whether scapula dyskinesis is the cause of the shoulder injuries seen in such athletes, or whether it is resultant from the injury. That may be a case-by-case proposition. What does seem important though, is that those working with overhead athletes need as part of their assessment tool kit a reliable method of assessment of scapula dyskinesis, as well as the skills to improve coordination of shoulder girdle movements.
So how do we apply this in practice? Every one of our athletes- in fact every one of our clients is screened in their initial assessment for shoulder girdle function- by that I mean the interaction between movement of the rib-cage, scapula and shoulder joints (and not forgetting the interaction with all of this to the pelvis below and the neck above!). A corrective exercise program is then forged from this assessment with the aim of removing the ‘dys’ from scapula dyskinesis!
We teach our methods for achieving this extensively in our ‘Upper Body Function’ workshop, which we will be taking around Australia in the very near future! Check the website for all of our upcoming events here.
Burn, M. B., McCulloch, P. C., Lintner, D. M., Liberman, S. R., & Harris, J. D. (2016). Prevalence of Scapular Dyskinesis in Overhead and Nonoverhead Athletes A Systematic Review. Orthopaedic journal of sports medicine, 4(2), 2325967115627608.Share this with others