Core Muscles Upper Quadrant

Original Editor - Lucinda hampton

Top Contributors - Lucinda hampton  

Introduction[edit | edit source]

Muscles of the scapular region posterior

The upper quadrant core includes the glenohumeral joint and the scapulothoracic joint. The upper quadrant core is identified by the muscles, ligaments, and fascia that produce a synchronous motion and stability of the glenohumeral joint, scapulothoracic joints and upper extremities.

Muscles connecting the upper limb to the trunk posterior

The initiation of movement in the upper limb is a result of activation of these core muscles, divided into 2 functional groups:

  1. Muscles that hold onto bone ie the stabilisers -Predominantly type 1 muscle fibres, with a postural role.
  2. Muscles that move bone, ie mobilisers - Predominantly type 2 muscle fibres, for faster action.[1]

The muscle action within the upper core depends on a balanced activity of the stabilizers and mobilizers. If the stabilisers do not stabilise the bones, the mobilising muscles will function at a disadvantage. If dysfunction exists between the stabilisers and the mobilisers shoulder, elbow and back injuries may occur[2]. Assessment of the upper quadrant muscles is essential in the shoulder problems of athletes and the general population[3].

There is a upper quadrant core and a lower quadrant core (hip and trunk). This articles refers to the upper quadrant core muscles (glenohumeral and scapulothoracic joints).

Upper Quadrant Core Muscle[edit | edit source]

The table below outline the stabilisers and global movers of the UQC.

Upper Quadrant CORE by Group Stabilizing Action Mobilizing Action
Supraspinatus X
Infraspinatus X
Teres major X
Teres minor X
Subscapularis X
Long head of biceps X
Deltoids X
Pectoralis major X
Latissimus dorsi X X
Upper trap X
Middle trap X
Lower trap X
Rhomboids X
Levator scap X
Serratus anterior X
Pectoralis minor X

ITB, Iliotibia band; TFL, tensor fascia latea.[2]

Sports[edit | edit source]

The upper core in action

When the upper core is strong and in good working order many upper limb problems can be avoided. Physiotherapists need be aware of the importance of this core for good primary upper limb sporting endeavours, and for all populations, to avoid potential upper limb soft tissue injuries.

Terminology[edit | edit source]

Posterior Oblique Sling

Interrelated concepts re upper limb quadrant function and stability include:

1.Dynamic Shoulder stabilisers. An integrated function of neuromuscular systems requiring muscles to contract and fixate the body against fluctuating outside forces, providing postural support with fine adjustments in muscle tension[4]. The dynamic stability of shoulder complex can be divided into:

  • Glenohumeral stability (Local)
  • Scapulothoracic stability (Global

2. Anatomy Slings. One sling, the posterior oblique muscle sling (POS), provides connection between the upper and lower core quadrants, via the latissimus dorsi and gluteus maximus, through the thoracolumbar fascia. Slings help to transfer force through the trunk and facilitate rotational movements. It is the muscular and myofascial components of slings that make powerful eg baseball/cricket pitches, baseball/golf swings.[5]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Akuthota V, Ferreiro A, Moore T, Fredericson M. Core stability exercise principles. Current sports medicine reports. 2008 Jan 1;7(1):39-44. Available: (accessed 26.1.2022)
  2. 2.0 2.1 Musculoskeletal KeyFastest Musculoskeletal Insight Engine The Anatomy and Pathophysiology of the CORE Available: 26.1.2022)
  3. Donatelli RA. Sports-Specific Rehabilitation-E-Book. Elsevier Health Sciences; 2006 Oct 11.Available: (accessed 25.1.2022)
  4. The free medical dictionary Dynamic stabilisation. Available: (accessed 27.1.2022)
  5. Prehab Obique sling exercise progression and assessment Available: (accessed 27.1.2022)