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Shoulder Range of Motion and Strength Characteristics in Circus Acrobats

Carlie Huberman, Melissa Scales, Srikant Vallabhajosula
From: Medical Problems of Performing Artists: Volume 35 Number 3: Page 145 (September 2020)

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Abstract: OBJECTIVES: To begin to establish normative data for shoulder range of motion (ROM) and strength in the circus acrobats and to compare these values based on age, sex, hand dominance, and acrobatic subgroup. METHODS: Active (AROM) and passive (PROM) of the full shoulder complex and PROM of the isolated glenohumeral joint were measured in 193 circus acrobats using standardized techniques for anterior elevation (flexion), posterior elevation (extension), lateral elevation (abduction), and external and internal rotation. Shoulder strength was measured using a hand-held dynamometer in all planes of motion. Measurements were taken twice and averaged. Mixed ANOVA were performed. One-sample t-tests were used to compare with general population. RESULTS: Several significant differences were noted between dominant and non-dominant sides, but not between the sex or age groups tested. Acrobats who did both aerial and ground acrobatics had significantly greater full shoulder complex flexion AROM than the aerial group, and AROM extension than the ground group. Circus acrobats had significantly greater AROM full shoulder complex extension, abduction, internal and external rotation, and shoulder strength than the general population. CONCLUSION: Overall, results from this cross-sectional study revealed that circus acrobats had greater shoulder strength and ROM than the general population, which could affect the way these patients should be treated in a clinical setting. Age and sex seemed to have minimal effects, but there was clearly an effect of hand dominance. Acrobats who train both aerial and ground acrobatics may have greater ROM in certain planes than those who train in only one type of discipline.

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