Does reaching the back reflect the actual internal rotation of the shoulder?

Research paper by Ikuko I Wakabayashi, Eiji E Itoi, Hiroshi H Minagawa, Moto M Kobayashi, Nobutoshi N Seki, Yoichi Y Shimada, Kyoji K Okada

Indexed on: 09 May '06Published on: 09 May '06Published in: Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery


To clarify the relationship between the vertebral level reached by the thumb and the internal rotation angle of the humerus, 7 shoulders in healthy volunteers were examined by use of an electromagnetic tracking device. Measurements were repeated in the hanging-arm position with the thumb pointing anteriorly and at the buttock, sacrum, and each vertebral level up to T6. From the hanging-arm position to the buttock, 54.3% of internal rotation occurred (mean, 39.8 degrees ), and from the buttock to the sacrum, 11.7% occurred (mean, 8.6 degrees ). In total, 66% of internal rotation occurred from the hanging-arm position to the sacrum. Above the sacrum, the contribution of elbow flexion to the level of the vertebral spine became much greater, and internal rotation of the shoulder did not change significantly above the T12 level. We recommend that the level of the thumb below the buttock be subdivided for more accurate assessment of internal rotation.