Shoulder Abduction

Last updated: June 30, 2018

What Does Shoulder Abduction Mean?

Shoulder abduction involves the rotation of the shoulder joint in such a way as to move the arm straight out and away from the body. This anatomical term of motion refers specifically to the movement of the arm away from the midline of the body. Workers reaching for supplies, tools, or products may make this motion. Like all body motion, awkward positioning, repetition, and overloading situations increase the risk of a work related musculoskeletal injury.


WorkplaceTesting Explains Shoulder Abduction

Shoulder abduction is a movement of the arm away from the body and should not be confused with shoulder adduction, which involves movement toward the center of the body.

During shoulder abduction, the middle deltoid and supraspinatus muscles of the shoulder operate to lift the arm away from the side of the body. The glenohumeral joint connecting the scapula to the humerus is the point of articulation for shoulder abduction.

A healthy shoulder allows for a 150-degree range of motion during shoulder abduction; this range of motion will be significantly reduced if the primary musculoskeletal support of the shoulder, the rotator cuff, is damaged. Weakening, inflammation, or tears to the tendons or muscles of the shoulder will impair shoulder abduction.

Employees engaged in tasks that require frequent shoulder abduction should be encouraged to perform exercises that strengthen the shoulder muscles and allowed sufficient recovery breaks to prevent the occurrence of injuries.


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