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Clin Biomech (Bristol, Avon). 2002 Jun;17(5):418-21.

The effect of shoulder movements on thoracic spine 3D motion.

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  • 1School of Physiotherapy, University of South Australia, Adelaide 5001, Australia.



To investigate whether there is any repeatable coupling pattern of upper thoracic movements, during right arm elevation in sagittal and scapular plane.


Upper thoracic movement patterns (T2-T7) were examined during right arm elevation, in the sagittal and scapular plane using an electromagnetic device. The participants were 25 asymptomatic woman aged between 45 and 64 years.


The majority of the participants performed an ipsilateral coupling pattern between lateral flexion and rotation which was repeatable and comparable for both arm elevation planes. Ipsilateral coupling of right lateral flexion and rotation in association with extension occurred in 23 subjects during arm elevation in sagittal plane, and in 19 subjects during arm elevation in scapular plane.


Analysis revealed that the participants demonstrated a repeatable upper thoracic movement pattern within and between subjects, during arm elevation in sagittal and scapular planes.


The biomechanical relationship between the arm and the thoracic spine is important to clinical practice because of the contribution of spinal to shoulder movements and vice versa, in the recognition, prevention and restoration of musculoskeletal function.

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