Scapular Stabilization Exercises, Jumper’s Knee and Osteoarthritis

Back to doing research reviews.  This is fun.  It is great to go into the research to see what is new when it comes to exercise and injuries.  In this round of research reviews I found some great research on scapular stabilization exercises, jumper’s knee and osteoarthritis.

Let’s get into the research.

Should I be Wasting My Time with Scapular Stabilization Exercises if I have Shoulder Impingement?

What They Looked At:

The effectiveness of an exercise program on the shoulder with people who have subacromial impingement syndrome.

How Did They Do It:

They divided 40 subjects into two groups.

Group 1 did stretching and strengthening exercises while group 2 did stretching, strengthening and scapular stabilization exercises.

What They Found:

Both groups showed improvement but the second group had greater improvement in muscle strength, joint position sense and scapular dyskinesis.

Take Home Message:

If you or your client has subacromial impingement, make sure to add scapular stabilization exercises to your program, along with stretching and strengthening.

Let me take a minute to explain a little more on why you should do this.

The results above all make sense because in shoulder impingement clients you often see:

  • increased upper trapezius activity
  • decrease in middle and lower serratus anterior activity
  • reduced rotator cuff activity
  • delay in middle and lower trapezius activity with sudden perturbation
Make sure to include stretching, strengthening and scapular stabilization exercises to help improve these dysfunctions.

To get more information, check out: Başkurt Z, Başkurt F, Gelecek N, Özkan MH. (2011). The effectiveness of scapular stabilization exercise in the patients with subacromial impingement syndrome. J Back Musculoskelet Rehabil. 2011;24(3):173-9.

Also have a look at this one:  Phadke V, Camargo P, Ludewig P. (2009). Scapular and rotator cuff muscle activity during arm elevation: A review of normal function and alterations with shoulder impingement. Rev Bras Fisioter. 2009 Feb 1;13(1):1-9.

For the program that I use for scapular stabilization exercises, click here.

Want to Improve Osteoarthritis pain? Then Losing Some Weight is the Key.


What They Looked At:

They looked at 111 obese adults.   The researchers performed a baseline MRI and a 12-month follow up MRI to look at cartilage thickness.

Neat Stuff in the Introduction:

  • Obesity is a major health problem
  • The World Health Organization estimates more than one billion people are overweight and 300 million are obese
  • Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis and the leading cause for chronic disability among older adults
  • Weight loss has been shown to decrease knee pain and to improve knee stiffness, function and disability

What They Found:

The average age was 52 years old, a BMI of 37 and average weight loss was 9%.

A decrease in weight led to an improvement in quality and quantity of medial articular cartilage but this was not observed in the lateral compartment.

This improvement in cartilage could lead to a reduction in the need for total joint replacements and decreased the impact on the health system.

Take Home Message:

We don’t talk about it often but with so many conditions in the lower body, an emphasis on decreasing weight will help overweight and obese clients recover from some injuries and prevent future ones.

Thinking beyond just exercise to lifestyle, nutrition and activity – even when injured – is key.

To get more information, check out: Anandacoomarasamy A, Leibman S, Smith G, Caterson I, Giuffre B, Fransen M, Sambrook PN, March L. (2012). Weight loss in obese people has structure-modifying effects on medial but not on lateral knee articular cartilage. Ann Rheum Dis. 2012 Jan;71(1):26-32.

I go through more stuff on knee osteoarthritis in the course:

What is the Best Treatment for Jumper’s Knee?


What They Looked At:

The effectiveness of an exercise program, ultrasound and transverse friction for the treatment of chronic patellar tendinopathy.

Neat Stuff in the Introduction:

  • Jumper’s knee or patellar tendinopathy
  • common in sports involving jumping and landing, rapid acceleration and deceleration, cutting moves and kicking (basketball, volleyball, soccer, tennis, high jump, long jump, fencing, track)
  • No correlation between intrinsic factors leading to jumper’s knee (malalignment, Q-angle, biomechanics).
  • Principal cause of jumper’s knee is hard playing surfaces, increase in training involving repetitive eccentric movement and tight hamstrings and quads

How Did They Do It:

They had 30 subjects with chronic patellar tendinopathy and divided them up into three groups (exercise, ultrasound and friction). Each group received treatment three times a week for four weeks.

Then they looked at the pain level of each of the subjects at 4, 8 and 16 weeks.

What They Found:

They found the exercise program had better results than the ultrasound and friction.

Yay, exercise.

If you do get treatment for jumper’s knee and have ultrasound and friction performed, don’t discount the exercise. It may be the missing piece that will help you out the most with your jumper’s knee.

What the focus needs to be on is an eccentric exercise program.  I go through that in Achilles Tendinitis Exercise Solution for the Achilles tendon.  In a few weeks, I will be finishing up this month’s, Injury of the Month, which will be Jumper’s Knee.  Watch for it before the end of December.

To get more information, check out:  Stasinopoulos D, Stasinopoulos I. (2004). Comparison of effects of exercise programme, pulsed ultrasound and transverse friction in the treatment of chronic patellar tendinopathy. Clin Rehabil. 2004 Jun;18(4):347-52.

Hope you enjoyed the research review.

Let me know what you think. Please feel free to share a recent article that you have read in the comment area.

Rick Kaselj, MS