Torso and Bowing Arm Three-Dimensional Joint Kinematics of Elite Cellists: Clinical and Pedagogical Implications for Practice

Luke Stephen Hopper, Cliffton Chan, Suzanne Wijsman, Timothy Ackland, Peter Visentin, Jacqueline Alderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Elite cello playing requires complex and refined motor control abilities. Cellists are prone to right shoulder and thoracolumbar injuries. Scientific research informing injury management of cellists and cello pedagogy is limited. The aims of this study were to quantify the torso, right shoulder and elbow joint movement used by elite cellists while performing a fundamental playing task under two volume conditions. Three-dimensional motion capture data of the torso, upper arm and forearm were applied to an upper limb model using eight degrees of freedom for thirty-one cellists with a mean experience of 19.4 years. Two-factor ANOVA compared the joint positions between the four cello strings and the two volume conditions. Significant (p<0.05) effects were found for either the string and/or volume conditions across all torso, shoulder and elbow joint degrees of freedom. The torso was consistently positioned in left rotation from 5.0º (SD 5.6) at the beginning of the scale increasing to 16.3º (SD 5.5) at its apogee. The greatest mean shoulder flexion, internal rotation and abduction joint angles were observed when playing at the tip of the bow on the top string (A) were, 107.2º (SD 11.6), 59.1º (SD 7.1) and 76.9º (SD 15.7), respectively during loud playing. Elite cellists use specific movement patterns to achieve string crossings and volume regulation during fundamental playing tasks. Implications of the static left rotated torso posture and high degrees of combined shoulder flexion and internal rotation can be used to inform clinical and pedagogical practices. This project was supported by a UWA Research Grant (2004).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-93
Number of pages9
JournalMedical Problems of Performing Artists
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2017


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