Shoulder strength requirements for upper limb functional tasks: Do age and rotator cuff tear status matter?

Anthony C. Santago, Meghan E. Vidt, Xiaotong Li, Christopher J. Tuohy, Gary G. Poehling, Michael T. Freehill, Katherine R. Saul

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    8 Scopus citations


    Understanding upper limb strength requirements for daily tasks is imperative for early detection of strength loss that may progress to disability due to age or rotator cuff tear. We quantified shoulder strength requirements for 5 upper limb tasks performed by 3 groups: uninjured young adults and older adults, and older adults with a degenerative supraspinatus tear prior to repair. Musculoskeletal models were developed for each group representing age, sex, and tear-related strength losses. Percentage of available strength used was quantified for the subset of tasks requiring the largest amount of shoulder strength. Significant differences in strength requirements existed across tasks: upward reach 105° required the largest average strength; axilla wash required the largest peak strength. However, there were limited differences across participant groups. Older adults with and without a tear used a larger percentage of their shoulder elevation (p <.001, p <.001) and external rotation (p <.001, p =.017) strength than the young adults, respectively. Presence of a tear significantly increased percentage of internal rotation strength compared to young (p <.001) and uninjured older adults (p =.008). Marked differences in strength demand across tasks indicate the need for evaluating a diversity of functional tasks to effectively detect early strength loss, which may lead to disability.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)446-452
    Number of pages7
    JournalJournal of Applied Biomechanics
    Issue number6
    StatePublished - Dec 2017


    • Functional task
    • Reserve strength
    • Simulation
    • Upper limb

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Biophysics
    • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
    • Rehabilitation


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