Golfer’s Shoulder

A common stress point in golf can be the shoulders.  Specifically, the group of four muscles that typically become stressed and then inflamed as a result of playing golf are collectively called the “rotator cuff”.  These muscles help to stabilize the ball and socket joint of the shoulder as well as contribute to rotation and elevation of the arm during the full golf swing.

To protect your rotator cuff and to help improve the overall power in your swing, try these three strengthening exercises.  Perform each exercise every other day for 4-6 weeks and you should be able to notice improved strength in your shoulders and added distance and control in your game.

External Shoulder Rotation

The first rotator cuff exercise is aimed at strengthening the two rotator cuff muscles called the infraspinatus and teres minor.  The primary function of the infraspinatus and teres minor muscles is to outwardly rotate the shoulder.  It is the most active in the right shoulder (for a right handed golfer) during the follow-through do help decelerate the arms.

External Rotation

Picture 1

ER End

Picture 2

To strengthen the infraspinatus and teres minor muscles, begin as with the first exercise, by placing a resistance band or tubing at shoulder height (sitting or standing) in a closed doorway with a straight-spine posture and lightly squeezing the shoulder blades. With your right arm at your side, bend your right elbow to 90° and rotate your shoulder inwardly to its end-range so your fist is resting on your stomach.

Move away from the doorway while gripping the resistance band/tubing in your right hand until you feel slight tension in the resistance band/tubing (see picture #1).  Then, rotate your right arm outward (away from your stomach) until you feel a comfortable degree of resistance (see picture #2).  Be sure to keep your chest facing forward (do not twist your shoulders) while you pull your arm outward.  This will isolate the muscles of the rotator cuff.  Hold the end position for two seconds and slowly release to the starting position in four seconds.  The entire repetition should last approximately six seconds.  Repeat the exercise for 1-2 sets of 10 repetitions.  Then, repeat the exercise with the left shoulder.

Internal Shoulder Rotation

The second rotator cuff strengthening exercise is aimed at the rotator cuff muscle called the subscapularis.  The primary functions of the subscapularis muscle are to stabilize the front of the shoulder joint and inwardly rotate the shoulder.  It is the most active of the four rotator cuff muscles during the full golf swing.

Internal RotationPicture 1 IR finishPicture 2 To strengthen the subscapularis, begin by placing a resistance band or tubing at shoulder height (sitting or standing) in a closed doorway with a straight-spine posture and lightly squeezing the shoulder blades. With your right arm at your side, bend your right elbow to 90° and rotate your shoulder outward comfortably to its end-range. 

Move away from the doorway while gripping the resistance band/tubing in your right hand until you feel slight tension in the resistance band/tubing (see picture #1).  Then, pull your right hand to your stomach by rotating your right shoulder inwardly (see picture #2).  Be sure to keep your chest facing forward (do not twist your shoulders) while you pull your arm inward.  This will isolate the muscle of the rotator cuff.  Hold the end position for two seconds and slowly release to the starting position in four seconds.  The entire repetition should last approximately six seconds.  Repeat the exercise for 1-2 sets of 10 repetitions.  Then, repeat the exercise with the left shoulder.

 For more information about golf-specific health and fitness training, please contact FitGolf Performance Centers at 1-888-fit-golf, or check the FitGolf Performance Centers web page at www.fitgolf.com.

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