OBJECTIVE: The goal of this study was to determine whether and how much the stabilizing role of the shoulder muscles changes as a function of humeral elevation and the plane of elevation.
METHODS: A musculoskeletal model, comprising a personalized scapulohumeral rhythm, was used to calculate the ratio of shear over compressive force (stability ratio) of three rotator cuff muscles (supraspinatus, infraspinatus and subscapularis) and three superficial shoulder muscles (middle deltoid, clavicular part of pectoralis major and latissimus dorsi) during abduction, flexion and reaching movements in 10 healthy adults.
RESULTS: The range of the stability ratios was [Formula: see text] for the rotator cuff muscles compared to [Formula: see text] for the superficial shoulder muscles. In the superior-inferior direction, the stability ratios of all muscles changed with humeral elevation and for infraspinatus, subscapularis, latissimus dorsi and deltoid also with the plane of elevation. In the anterior-posterior direction, the stability ratios of all muscles changed with humeral elevation, except for the deltoid, and with the plane of elevation, except for the supraspinatus, with interaction effects in all muscles.
CONCLUSION: The rotator cuff muscles provide greater compression than shear forces during all tasks. The stabilizing function of the superficial shoulder muscles examined in this study varies during tasks.
SIGNIFICANCE: The findings can be used to predict in which movements the shoulder joint becomes more unstable and can be applied to understand how shear and compressive forces change in populations with abnormal shoulder motion.