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The most effective exercise for strengthening the supraspinatus muscle: evaluation by magnetic resonance imaging.

Authors: Takeda Y, Kashiwaguchi S, Endo K, Matsuura T, Sasa T.

References: Am J Sports Med 2002 May-Jun;30(3):374-81

Abstract
BACKGROUND: Electromyography has been used to determine the best exercise for strengthening the supraspinatus muscle, but conflicting results have been reported. Magnetic resonance imaging T2 relaxation time appears to be more accurate in determining muscle activation. PURPOSE: To determine the best exercises for strengthening the supraspinatus muscle. STUDY DESIGN: Criterion standard. METHODS: Six male volunteers performed three exercises: the empty can, the full can, and horizontal abduction. Immediately before and after each exercise, magnetic resonance imaging examinations were performed and changes in relaxation time for the subscapularis, supraspinatus, infraspinatus, teres minor, and deltoid muscles were recorded. RESULTS: The supraspinatus muscle had the greatest change among the studied muscles in relaxation time for the empty can (10.5 ms) and full can (10.5 ms) exercises. After the horizontal abduction exercise the change in relaxation time for the supraspinatus muscle (3.6 ms) was significantly smaller than that for the posterior deltoid muscle (11.5 ms) and not significantly different from that of the other muscles studied. CONCLUSION: The empty can and full can exercises were most effective in activating the supraspinatus muscle.

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