Scapular Retraction Tests

Discover how to perform the Scapular Retraction Test (SRT) with a free PDF guide and example.

By Ericka Pingol on Jul 15, 2024.

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Fact Checked by Ericka Pingol.

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What is the Scapular Retraction Test?

The scapula, also known as the shoulder blade, plays a critical role in shoulder mechanics and is the base for many upper-body movements. It's a triangular bone that connects the humerus (upper arm bone) with the clavicle (collar bone) and provides an attachment point for numerous muscles. Its complex motions allow for the arm's extensive range of motion.

Healthcare professionals, especially physical therapists, evaluate the shoulder blade's movement through the . The SRT determines the extent of scapular retraction, a key component of shoulder stability.

This test involves actively contracting specific muscles to move and stabilize the scapula. It assesses shoulder joint laxity, strength, neuromuscular control, compensatory patterns, and muscular imbalances.

How does it work?

Our free printable Scapular Retraction Test template can help you effectively evaluate your patient's shoulder blade. Here's how to get started:

Step One: Access the test

Download the SRT template using the provided link on this page. Alternatively, you can access it through the Carepatron app or our extensive resource library.

Step Two: Explain how it works to your patient

Discuss the purpose of the SRT with your patient. Explain that you'll test their ability to actively move and stabilize their shoulder blade.

Step Three: Perform the Scapular Retraction Test

Conduct the test following the steps outlined in the template. Be sure to observe the patient's scapular motion and position carefully.

Step Four: Record your findings

Record any observations or changes in the range of motion, muscle strength, or gait patterns on the template. It's also important to note if the patient experienced discomfort during the test.

Step Five: Analyze the results

Analyze the patient's performance and compare it to normal values. Based on your findings, you can create a tailored rehabilitation plan for your patient.

Scapular Retraction Test Interpretation

The Scapular Retraction Test is an effective diagnostic tool for assessing shoulder joint laxity, strength, neuromuscular control, compensatory patterns, and muscular imbalances. 

The results of the SRT can provide valuable insight into an individual's shoulder joint health. A positive result indicates reduced strength or control in the upper back musculature, which may require rehabilitation to restore proper mobility and stability.

On the other hand, a negative result suggests no issues with the individual’s shoulder joint laxity, strength, neuromuscular control, compensatory patterns, or muscular imbalances. In this case, the patient may require further testing to determine a diagnosis and appropriate treatment plan. 

It's important to note that the SRT is just one diagnostic tool among many. When evaluating shoulder joint health, you should consider the patient's medical history and other physical therapy tests to get a full picture of what's happening.

When to Use the Scapular Retraction Test?

The Scapular Retraction Test is applicable when assessing scapular stability and shoulder function. You can also use our free template to:

Assess scapular strength

You can use our free SRT template to assess scapular strength in individuals with shoulder issues such as impingement, rotator cuff pain, and labral tears.

Evaluate neuromuscular control

The Scapular Retraction Test also can be used to evaluate the patient’s ability to maintain proper scapulohumeral stability while performing various movements. This helps identify any compensatory patterns or muscular imbalances that may be present.

Observe the coordination of shoulder movement patterns

Observing the coordination of shoulder movement patterns during the Scapular Retraction Test, you can better understand how the patient uses their shoulder muscles to control movement. This can help determine if further assessment and treatment are necessary.

Detect early signs of a shoulder injury

You can use this test as a preventative measure to detect early signs of potential shoulder injuries. Regularly using this test in individuals involved in shoulder-intensive activities, like athletes or physical laborers, can help identify any pre-injury conditions that may require intervention.

Monitor rehabilitation progress

In the event of a shoulder injury, the SRT proves instrumental during the rehabilitation process. The test is an effective tool for monitoring progress and can help adjust the rehabilitation protocol based on the individual’s improvement over time.

Benefits of the Free Scapular Retraction Test Template

Our free Scapular Retraction Test template offers several advantages for you and your patients. These include the following:

It's fully digital and pre-made

The template is digital and readily available, saving you time and effort. You don't need to create your own form or instructions from scratch.

It's customizable

This template is highly customizable and can be tailored to meet the needs of every patient. Whether you want to adjust instructions or add additional fields for medical information - our template makes it easy.

It's efficient

Using this template will help streamline your workflow and improve the overall efficiency of your medical practice. You can easily record the results of every SRT, helping you identify trends in patient data over time.

It's versatile

Our template can be used for both preventive and rehabilitation purposes. No matter what your patient's needs are, the SRT can help them stay ahead of potential shoulder injuries. Plus, it helps monitor their recovery progress over time.

How to perform the Scapular Retraction Test?
How to perform the Scapular Retraction Test?

Commonly asked questions

How to perform the Scapular Retraction Test?

The Scapular Retraction Test assesses scapular stability. Instruct the patient to retract their scapula while performing specific arm movements.

How to interpret Scapular Retraction Test results?

You can interpret SRT results based on discomfort, pain, or instability during the test. Positive findings could suggest scapular instability or dysfunction. However, consider combining results with other clinical information for a comprehensive diagnosis.

What are the advantages of the Scapular Retraction Test?

The Scapular Retraction Test assesses scapular stability and shoulder function. It also provides valuable insights into potential issues and aids in quick and accurate assessment.

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