Shoulder mobility test

Heathy, mobile, and stable shoulders are required to play rugby as they move through a wide range of motions and movements during a game. They also receive a lot of impact force when tackling. The shoulder mobility test is a simple test to perform to check if the player has good range of motion and movement symmetry in the shoulders. The steps for implementing this test are as follows and are also shown in the video below (Cook, 2010):

  • Measure the players hand length from the wrist crease to the tip of the longest finger
  • Player stands feet together and makes a fist with each hand tucking the thumbs inside the fingers
  • The player reaches as far as possible one fist behind the neck and the other fist behind the back at the same time
  • Measure the distance between the two closest points of the hands
  • If the fists are within one and a half hand lengths of each other the player has good shoulder mobility

If the fists are not within one and a half hand lengths of each or if pain is felt during this movement the player has poor shoulder mobility

There is also an additional clearance test to check for shoulder pain and possible shoulder impingement with the player. The steps for this test are as follows and are shown in the video below:

  • The player places the palm of their hand on the opposite shoulder
  • The player then lifts the elbow as high as possible while maintaining palm to shoulder contact
  • If pain is felt, then shoulder impingement may be the cause and should be further checked by a physiotherapist

Shoulder clearance test

Corrective exercises

Shoulder dislocations – player stands tall with the glutes contracted in good neutral posture, holding a stick in front of their body brings the stick up over their head and behind their body without deviating from the tall neutral posture. Players with poor shoulder mobility will need a wide grip but as mobility improves the player can narrow their grip to further challenge shoulder mobility.