The Shoulder Stabilisation test
Here we describe the upper extremity shoulder stabilisation test. This is also known as the CKCUEST. As previously noted shoulder injuries do occur in contact sports such as in rugby with Roberts and colleagues in 2013 showing that shoulder ligament injuries were reported to cost the player at least a 9-week absence from the game. McLoughlin and colleagues in 2019, reported that injuries to the shoulder are the most common reported in the amateur club game. The coach can use this upper extremity test to evaluate the status of the stability within the shoulder complex. It may be used as a monitoring test during the training and preparation period so as to track progress in players. The test is easy to administer and can be completed without any sophisticated equipment making it a very useful and practical test for the coach in the field setting. The test has been shown to be reliable with a test-retest correlation of 0.92 to 0.97 (Lee et al 2015). Pontillo and colleagues in 2014 noted that a cut point of less than 21 touches for the test is associated with a higher risk of shoulder injury.
Preparation / Procedure
The materials required to complete the test include 2 strips of athletic tape placed parallel to each other 90 cm apart on the floor. The starting position for the test is with one hand on each piece of tape while assuming a push-up position. The player is then instructed to use one hand to reach across their body and touch the opposite hand. The hand is then returned to the original starting position. The player then performs the same movement with the other hand. Touches are counted every time the hand reaches across the player’s body and touches the other hand. The total time for the trial is 15 seconds. Each player performs a warm-up trial and then three test trials with a rest period of 45 seconds between trials. The average of the three trials is used for the test score. Please view the player performing the test in the video below.
A number of studies have examined the normative data associated with different populations. Tucci and colleagues in 2014 reported that results range from 23 to 32 touches for healthy active populations and from 10 to 14 with athletes suffering from sub-acromial impingement.
Corrective exercises for the shoulder stabilisation test
The following corrective exercises can improve scapular stability and therefore shoulder stabilisation:
- Player assumes a press-up position
- Pushes on the ground to raise the body a little. This is known as scapular protraction
- Draws the scapula together, causing the body to lower a little. This is scapular retraction
- Repeats this sequence for the required sets and reps
- Keeps their arms straight and locked out at all stages and does not let the lower back arch excessively.
- Player assumes a press-up position with their feet a bit wider than their hands for stability
- Removes one hand from the ground and slowly and under control touches the opposite shoulder before returning their hand to the ground
- Repeats on the other side
- Repeats for the desired sets and repetitions
- Tries not to let their body sway from side to side as they remove their hands from the ground