Shoulder Assessment

Trapezius Strength Test (All 3 Parts)

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Trapezius Strength Test

Trapezius Strength Test (All 3 Parts) | Shoulder Muscle Assessment

The Trapezius muscle consists of 3 different parts. In this wiki we will show you how to test the trapezius pars ascendens, decendens & transversus for strength as part of shoulder assessment.

All parts:

In order to test the general strength of all parts of the trapezius, have your patient in sitting position with his hands over the head at about 120° of abduction. Then push your patient’s elbows forward and observe if you see all parts of the trapezius contract to stabilize the scapula.

 

Upper Traps / Trapezius pars descendens

The upper trapezius can be tested by asking your patient to shrug the shoulder with the arms slightly abducted. This slight abduction is important to take out the rhomboids and levator scapula.
Another way is to resist shoulder abduction and ipsilateral lateroflexion of the patient’s head.

 

Middle Traps / Trapezius pars transversus

To test the middle part, have your patient in prone position with the arm abducted to 90° and laterally rotated. Then ask your patient to horizontally extend the arm and resist the movement.
This test is positive for a weak middle trapezius if the scapula cannot be retracted.

 

 

Lower Traps / Trapezius pars ascendens

To test the lower trapezius, have your patient in prone lying position with his arms abducted to 120° and the shoulder laterally rotated. Then give resistance to diagonal extension. In a normal patient, retraction should occur, so this test is positive for a weak lower trapezius if protraction of the scapula occurs.

 

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If you are interested in muscle strength assessment of other muscles in the shoulder region, check out our wiki posts below:

 

References

Ekstrom RA, Donatelli RA, Soderberg GL. Surface electromyographic analysis of exercises for the trapezius and serratus anterior muscles. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy. 2003 May;33(5):247-58.

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