Force analysis of rotator cuff muscles

Richard E. Hughes, Kai Nan An

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

110 Scopus citations


A 3-dimensional static biomechanical model of the glenohumeral joint was used to investigate rotator cuff muscle forces during maximal isometric exertions (abduction, adduction, internal rotation, and external rotation) and static arm elevation. Muscle moment arms and cross sectional areas were determined from studies of cadaveric specimens, and maximal isometric strength data were collected using a Cybex II dynamometer. Predicted posterior deltoid forces were very low during abduction in the scapular plane. The model predicted the highest rotator cuff muscle forces during maximal internal rotation (subscapularis) and external rotation (infraspinatus, teres minor, and supraspinatus) exertions. The results indicate that abduction exertions may not produce the greatest loads on the supraspinatus tendon, and that analyses of arm elevation may underestimate the potential loads on the rotator cuff. The strong effect of external rotation exertions on supraspinatus and infraspinatus forces suggest that ergonomic efforts to prevent rotator cuff disease should include reduction of internal rotation loading on the arm. Moreover, it may be important to include warnings about external rotation exertions, in addition to arm elevation, in patient education.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)75-83
Number of pages9
JournalClinical orthopaedics and related research
Issue number330
StatePublished - 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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