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Strengthen the Core to Protect Against Shoulder Injuries

From a tensegrity perspective, clinicians know that dysfunction in one area of body is often the cause of pain or injury in another. Radwan et al. (2014) examined the relationship between core instability and shoulder dysfunction. Since the core stabilizes the spine and serves as the base in which the extremities rely on, core stability is important in athletics. Having a stable core allows an athlete to maximize force production, while minimizing stress on the joints (Radwan et al., 2014). A lack of core stability may lead to a breakdown in form leading to injury. Muscular imbalances between the trunk muscles firing too soon prior to synergistic firing of the lower back, causes excessive joint motion in overhead joint activity, which leads to abnormal accessory gliding that leads to trauma to the joint (Radwan et al., 2014).

Radwan et al. (2014) examined the core stability of overhead sport athletes of both genders, 14 athletes with a shoulder dysfunction and 48 apparently healthy athletes, through a variety of tests. The only test that showed a significant difference was the single leg balance test (SLBT), with the injured athletes able to balance, on average, 8.8 seconds shorter on their right leg and 6.8 seconds shorter on their left leg than their healthy counterparts (Radwan et al., 2014). The SLBT assess static postural control, indicating neuromuscular function and stability. The other tests had no significant differences between groups, and measured core muscular strength and endurance. The results suggest that overhead athletes with more postural control have less instances of shoulder dysfunction. Overhead sport athletes should engage in balance training to lessen their injury risk.

The person with insufficient core stability is more likely to experience shoulder injury. Deficits in the core musculatures muscle spindles or mechanoreceptors proprioceptive ability to handle afferent information, such as rate of change of muscular length, will cause slightly altered core stability (Riemann & Lephart, 2002). This in turn will alter overhead movement patterns causing injury to the shoulder joint.


Radwan, A., Francis, J., Green, A., Kahl, E., Maciurzynski, D., Quartulli, A., . . . Weiss, B. (2014). Is there a relation between shoulder dysfunction and core instability? International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy, 9(1), 8-13.

Riemann, B. L., & Lephart, S. M. (2002). The sensorimotor system, part I: The physiologic basis of functional joint stability. Journal of Athletic Training, 37(1), 71-79.