Too often when we work with our clients, we find that their shoulder limits their ability to unleash their swing. We often find that our athletes with shoulder discomfort are unstable and/or have limited range of motion in their shoulders. Sometimes this is due to injuries from the past still lingering; sometimes this is due to repeated motion with poor mechanics and/or posture. Whatever the reason, shoulder health is very important to playing your best, pain-free golf. Statistically speaking, your shoulder is one of the most common areas for an injury to occur. In fact, according to statistics, a shoulder injury is the third most likely injury for a golfer to develop. At AMPD Golf Fitness, we move beyond simple pain management and look at why these injuries occur. We are able to prevent shoulder injuries before they even happen by testing movement and range of motion before training. This helps us build custom programs and address the inefficiencies before they become overuse injuries.
First, it is important to understand how the shoulder works and what is optimal movement for golf. The shoulder moves in all directions but when it comes to golf, internal and external rotation is the most important movements needed to play golf at a high level. Optimal internal rotation should be 70 degrees and 90 degrees externally. Anytime there are limitations in these numbers there is a routine protocol that our coaches will take the athlete through to restore movement, which reduces the risk of injury around the shoulder and surrounding joints. The muscles that most commonly contribute to limited internal or external rotation are the pectoral minors and lats. Restoring proper elasticity to those muscles will have a very positive effect on shoulder range of motion.
What does all of this mean for your swing? Limited mobility of your shoulder restricts your ability to properly load the golf club at the top of the backswing as well as release the club through impact without manipulation. As you swing, your trail shoulder loads into external rotation and then violently thrusts the club through impact into internal rotation. At the same time, the lead shoulder internally rotates during the backswing and violently passes through impact into external rotation. When you are not able to rotate your shoulders properly, your elbow juts out from underneath the club in what we commonly call the flying elbow in the backswing or a chicken wing in the follow through. Realize the limitations can lead to these swing characteristics but they are not absolutes. Some very successgul golfers have those swing characteristics as a part of their iconic swings and they choose to be in those positions. However, if you experience discomfort in your swing, feel like you are losing a lot of power and/or are trying to work away from these swing characteristics, it is important to understand why your body’s current movement inefficiencies could be causing you to be in the positions.
On top of power reduction, a flying elbow can also lead to more than one injury. When you cannot properly rotate, you are putting unnecessary stress on your lead elbow. Over time, this stress can develop into an injury, and eventually this stress can turn into tennis elbow. Additionally, when you cannot rotate your shoulders properly, you are also putting pressure on your spine, as good scapular rotation is necessary in order to maintain an ideal spine angle. Not rotating enough will alter your posture and increase instability. When one portion of the machine is broken, other parts will suffer. The main areas that take on that unwanted stress eventually break down and pain becomes present. These injuries can be prevented by listening to your body and seeking out a golf performance specialist.
If you are suffering from shoulder pain and want to move beyond pain management to pain solutions, it’s time to contact AMPD Golf Fitness. Our team will carefully analyze your swing, your range of motion, and key areas to increase stability throughout your swing and minimize your risk of injury. Even if shoulder pain is not a problem for you right now, chances are that eventually you will develop a shoulder injury, as it is one of the most common problems in golf. Join Team AMPD today and minimize your risk of injuries in the future.