Kathleen M. Poploski, Kelsey J. Picha, Joshua D. Winters, Scott D. Royer, Nicholas R. Heebner, Brad Lambert, Scott M. Lephart, John P. Abt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: The specialized roles of many military personnel require specific skills and high physical demands, placing unique stresses on the shoulders and increasing risk of injury. As normal dominant/nondominant shoulder asymmetries have been established in military personnel, bilateral strength comparisons must be understood in context of daily physical demands to monitor patients’ progress or readiness to return to duty. Purpose: This study aims to assess bilateral differences in strength and explosive force in United States Marines with a history of dominant or nondominant shoulder pathology. Study Design: Cross-Sectional. Methods: A total of 52 full-duty, male US Marines with a shoulder injury within the prior year participated. Bilateral isokinetic shoulder internal (IR) and external (ER) rotation strength, and peak force (Peak Force) and average rate of force production (Avg Rate) during an explosive push-up were collected. Dominant versus nondominant side data were independently examined within each group (DOM: dominant injury, NOND: non-dominant injury). Comparison between DOM and NOND, as well as previously published CON (no history of shoulder injury) was also completed. Results: NOND (n = 26) demonstrated significantly less IR (p < 0.001) and ER (p = 0.003) strength and Peak Force (p = 0.001) and Avg Rate (p = 0.047) on the injured side, while DOM (n = 26) demonstrated no bilateral differences in strength or push-up performance. Comparison between the three groups showed that NOND demonstrated significantly less ER strength than CON (p = 0.022). Conclusions: Military personnel demonstrate asymmetric strength patterns likely due to increased demand of the dominant shoulder. US Marines with a history of injury to the nondominant shoulder performed differently than those with a dominant side injury, presenting with both strength and push-up asymmetries. They also demonstrated significant ER strength deficits compared to CON. Common clinical practice and previous literature often compare injured and uninjured limbs or injured individuals to healthy controls, but further distinction of dominant or nondominant side may provide more accurate information needed to develop targeted treatment strategies. Clinical Relevance: Recognizing unique occupational demands and how patients may present differently with dominant versus nondominant side shoulder injuries are important considerations for ensuring accurate assessment and effective individualized rehabilitation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1129-1140
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Sports Physical Therapy
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, North American Sports Medicine Institute. All rights reserved.


  • Injury Prevention
  • Military Training
  • Physical Therapy
  • Rehabilitation
  • Shoulder

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Rehabilitation


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