The reliability of shoulder range of motion measures in competitive swimmers

Helen Walker, Tania Pizzari, Henry Wajswelner, Peter Blanch, Laura Schwab, Kim Bennell, Belinda Gabbe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: Investigate reliability of shoulder internal and external rotation (IR, ER), abduction in internal rotation (ABIR) and combined elevation (CE) range of motion tests in competitive swimmers. 

Design: Within participants, inter- and intra-examiner reliability. 

Setting: Physiotherapy Department, University of Melbourne, Australia. 

Participants: 17 competitive swimmers (aged 12-24 years) who participate in at least 5 weekly swimming sessions and two physiotherapy examiners. 

Main outcome measures: Inter- and intra-examiner reliability of IR, ER, ABIR and CE. 

Results: Good to excellent intra-examiner reliability across tests (ICCs: 0.85-0.96) with standard error of measurement (SEM)and minimal detectable change at 90% confidence interval (MDC90) ranging from 2 to 5, and 5-12°, respectively. Good to excellent inter-examiner reliability for all tests (ICCs: 0.77-0.94) except left IR (ICC: 0.65). Inter-examiner SEM and MDC90 ranged from 2 to 5° and 5-12°, respectively. 

Conclusion: Shoulder range of motion tests were reliable when applied by the same examiner. Inter-examiner reliability was acceptable for all tests except IR, which was affected by inconsistent manual scapula stabilisation between examiners.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26-30
Number of pages5
JournalPhysical Therapy in Sport
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2016


  • Range of motion
  • Reliability
  • Shoulder
  • Swimming

Cite this