Comparison of rotator cuff to glenoid proximity based on scapulothoracic upward rotation classification

Rebekah L. Lawrence, Gaura Saini, Justin L. Staker, Paula M. Ludewig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Recent evidence suggests that internal impingement, or rotator cuff tendon deformation against the glenoid, occurs during overhead motions and may therefore be a mechanism of pathology even in non-athletes. Clinically, knowing how movement impacts potential injury mechanisms would be useful to guide movement-based treatment strategies. Objective: To compare the distance between the glenoid and rotator cuff footprint between two groups classified based on scapulothoracic upward rotation (UR) magnitude (i.e., low, high) at 90° humerothoracic elevation. Methods: Shoulder kinematics were quantified during scapular plane abduction in 60 participants using single-plane fluoroscopy. Of these, 40 were subsequently classified as having high or low scapulothoracic UR based on the sample's distribution. The minimum distance between the glenoid and rotator cuff footprint was calculated along with the locations of closest proximity (i.e., proximity centers). Minimum distances and proximity center locations were compared between groups using 2-factor mixed-model ANOVAs. The prevalence of glenoid-to-footprint contact was also compared. Results: Glenoid-to-footprint distances consistently decreased as humerothoracic elevation angle increased, and the anterior aspect of the footprint was closest to the posterosuperior glenoid. Minimum distances were not significantly different between UR groups (p≥0.16). However, group differences existed in proximity center locations (p<0.01). Glenoid-to-footprint contact was identified in 75.0% of participants at an average (SD) of 133.6° (3.2°) humerothoracic elevation. Conclusion: The results of this study suggest that decreased UR as classified and assessed in this study does not significantly impact glenoid-to-footprint distances but does alter the location of the contact, which occurred in most participants.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100505
JournalBrazilian Journal of Physical Therapy
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2023


  • Internal impingement
  • Kinematics
  • Rotator cuff
  • Scapular upward rotation


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