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Effects of the Prone Passive Stretching Technique on Glenohumeral Internal Rotation
  • David Hammons, Boise State University

Introduction: Posterior shoulder tightness is widely considered a causative factor for multiple disorders of the glenohumeral (GH) joint. Specifically, Glenohumeral Internal Rotation Deficit (GIRD) creates the potential for a cascading effect in overhead athletes leading to shoulder dysfunction. Both conservative and surgical interventions have been discussed in the literature to reduce the symptoms of GIRD and posterior GH tightness. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of a novel prone- passive internal rotation (IR) stretching technique compared to the cross-body stretching technique at improving glenohumeral IR. The prone technique has been described once in the literature, but never studied, while other techniques have been investigated through empirical research. Hypothesis: The novel prone-passive stretching technique is more effective at improving IR ROM, IR deficit, and total motion, when compared to the previously studied cross-body stretching technique. Methods: Following a pilot study, 34 healthy and non-injured athletic participants who demonstrated a deficit between non-dominant and dominant shoulders of ≥ 10° were recruited. Participants were randomly assigned to a study group (passive-prone) and control group (cross-body). Pre-test digital inclinometer measurements revealed pre-test GH IR and external (ER) range of motion; a minimum of 12 treatments were applied in both groups and post-treatment measurements were taken using the same instrumentation. All measurements were taken by the same research assistant. Results: Improvements in group mean gain scores IR ROM, IR deficit, and total motion, in the experimental compared to the control group, were not statistically significant: IR ROM (13.23° ± 7.78°, 8.47° ± 8.71° p = 0.104), IR deficit (-12.64° ± 11.49°, -9.13 ± 8.33° p = 0.441), and total motion (14.81° ± 11.27°, 9.97° ± 11.99° p = 0.232). Conclusion: The prone-passive stretching technique did not demonstrate significant improvement in IR ROM, IR deficit, and total motion in the glenohumeral joint in participants with unilateral IR deficit more than the cross-body stretching technique. However, due to an observed trend, the results of this study may motivate clinicians to utilize the prone-passive stretching technique for the treatment of unilaterally restricted IR ROM in overhead athletes.

  • Shoulder Stretching,
  • Glenohumeral Internal Rotation Deficit,
  • Overhead Athletes,
  • Internal Rotation
Publication Date
May, 2012
Citation Information
David Hammons. "Effects of the Prone Passive Stretching Technique on Glenohumeral Internal Rotation" (2012)
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