Assessment and Treatment of the Subscapularis | Dr. Alex Jimenez Skip to main content

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Assessment and Treatment of the Subscapularis | Dr. Alex Jimenez

Assessment and Treatment of the Subscapularis | Dr. Alex Jimenez | El Paso, TX Chiropractor



These assessment and treatment recommendations represent a synthesis of information derived from personal clinical experience and from the numerous sources which are cited, or are based on the work of researchers, clinicians and therapists who are named (Basmajian 1974, Cailliet 1962, Dvorak & Dvorak 1984, Fryette 1954, Greenman 1989, 1996, Janda 1983, Lewit 1992, 1999, Mennell 1964, Rolf 1977, Williams 1965).

Clinical Application of Neuromuscular Techniques: the Subscapularis Muscle


The subscapularis is a large triangular muscle which fills the subscapular fossa and inserts into the lesser tubercle of the humerus and the front of the capsule of the shoulder-joint.

The subscapularis rotates the head of the humerus medially (internal rotation) and adducts it; when the arm is raised, it draws the humerus forward and downward. It is a powerful defense to the front of the shoulder-joint, preventing displacement of the head of the humerus.

Damage or trauma from an injury or an aggravated condition can cause shortness in the subscapularis muscle. The following assessments and treatments can help improve structure and function.

Assessment of Shortness in the Subscapularis Muscle


Subscapularis shortness test (a) Direct palpation of subscapularis is required to define problems in it, since pain patterns in the shoulder, arm, scapula and chest may all derive from subscapularis or from other sources.

The patient is supine and the practitioner grasps the affected side hand and applies traction while the fingers of the other hand palpate over the edge of latissimus dorsi in order to make contact with the ventral surface of the scapula, where subscapularis can be palpated. There may be a marked reaction from the patient when this is touched, indicating acute sensitivity.

Subscapularis shortness test (b) (as seen on Fig. 4.39 below) The patient is supine with the arm abducted to 90°, the elbow flexed to 90°, and the forearm in external rotation, palm upwards. The whole arm is resting at the restriction barrier, with gravity as its counterweight.

If subscapularis is short the forearm will be unable to rest easily parallel with the floor but will be somewhat elevated.


Figure 4 39 A and B Assessment and MET Self Treatment Position for Subscapularis


Figure 4.39A, B Assessment and MET self-treatment position for subscapularis. If the upper arm cannot rest parallel to the floor, possible shortness of subscapularis is indicated.

Care is needed to prevent the anterior shoulder becoming elevated in this position (moving towards the ceiling) and so giving a false normal picture.

Assessment of Weakness in the Subscapularis Muscle


The patient is prone with humerus abducted to 90° and elbow flexed to 90°. The humerus should be in internal rotation so that the forearm is parallel with the trunk, palm towards ceiling. The practitioner stabilises the scapula with one hand and with the other applies pressure to the patient’s wrist and forearm as though taking the humerus towards external rotation, while the patient resists.

The relative strength is judged and the method discussed by Norris (1999) should used to increase strength (isotonic eccentric contraction performed slowly).

MET Treatment of the Subscapularis Muscle


The patient is supine with the arm abducted to 90°, the elbow flexed to 90°, and the forearm in external rotation, palm upwards. The whole arm is resting at the restriction barrier, with gravity as its counterweight. (Care is needed to prevent the anterior shoulder becoming elevated in this position (moving towards the ceiling) and so giving a false normal picture.)

The patient raises the forearm slightly, against minimal resistance from the practitioner, for 7–10 seconds and, following relaxation, gravity or slight assistance from the operator takes the arm into greater external rotation, through the barrier, where it is held for not less than 20 seconds.

Dr. Alex Jimenez offers an additional assessment and treatment of the hip flexors as a part of a referenced clinical application of neuromuscular techniques by Leon Chaitow and Judith Walker DeLany. The scope of our information is limited to chiropractic and spinal injuries and conditions. To discuss the subject matter, please feel free to ask Dr. Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900 .

By Dr. Alex Jimenez


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Additional Topics: Wellness


Overall health and wellness are essential towards maintaining the proper mental and physical balance in the body. From eating a balanced nutrition as well as exercising and participating in physical activities, to sleeping a healthy amount of time on a regular basis, following the best health and wellness tips can ultimately help maintain overall well-being. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables can go a long way towards helping people become healthy.






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