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The effects of an exercise intervention on forward head and rounded shoulder postures in elite swimmers
  1. Stephanie S Lynch1,
  2. Charles A Thigpen2,
  3. Jason P Mihalik3,
  4. William E Prentice3,
  5. Darin Padua3
  1. 1Physical Therapy Department, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia, USA
  2. 2Proaxis Therapy, 200 Patewood Drive, Suite C150, Greenville, South Carolina, USA
  3. 3University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Charles A Thigpen, Proaxis Therapy, 200 Patewood Drive, Suite C150, Greenville, SC 29615, USA; chuck.thigpen{at}


Objectives To examine the correction of posture, increase in strength and decrease in shoulder pain and dysfunction in varsity swimmers.

Design and Setting Randomised clinical trial.

Participants Twenty-eight National Collegiate Athletic Association division I varsity swimmers.

Measurements Two testing sessions were conducted before and after an 8-week time period. Posture, strength and shoulder pain and function were assessed. Forward head angle was measured using a digital inclinometer, forward head translation was measured using a ruler and total scapular distance was measured with unmarked string. Average and peak values (N) of strength were measured with the hand-held dynamometer. The intervention subjects then participated in an 8-week exercise training programme to correct posture. The procedures were then repeated in the post-test.

Results Significant group by time interactions (p<0.05) were found in forward head angle and forward shoulder translation indicating a decrease in forward head angle and forward shoulder translation. Significant main effects for time (p<0.05) were found in strength measures for all muscle groups indicating increased strength for shoulder girdle muscles tested.

Conclusions The exercise intervention was successful at decreasing forward head and rounded shoulder postures in elite swimmers. This study supports the theoretical basis for clinical rehabilitation of posture and the shoulder.

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval This study was conducted with the approval of the University of North Carolina Biomedical Institutional Review Board.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.