How to Manage Cranky Shoulders for Golfers

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I always entertain myself when I write some of these blog posts.

Earlier in the season I was getting a decent amount of shoulder pain on my right arm. It was annoying. I also struggled with my swing and my upper body training.

You would think that I would know better but, nope. Turns out that I wasn’t really turning through my upper back to get into my back swing. I was also working with a long backswing because it was working at the time.

This meant that my shoulder was basically being ripped across my body and causing the pain. Now this was my specific case and shoulder pain from swinging is very common.

Our movement can improve and protect the shoulder joint. If we master our movement then we can use those patterns to build control in the golf swing.

Thoracic Extension

Starting in the upper back we must be able to extend without arching the low back. This is tough in present day culture. Most people spend way too much time sitting or looking down at their phone, etc.

Improving thoracic extension will help improve shoulder mobility and a rounded posture.

The extension on a roller is one of my favorites because it feels awesome. We get more extension out of the upper back by placing the roller in the middle. This position locks the low back into place and discourages motion through there.

Thoracic Rotation

The ability to turn through the upper back is really important for keeping the back and shoulder healthy. It will also eliminate a lot of negative swing mechanics. The ability to turn into the backswing might be the most important movement quality.

This must happen through the upper back.

Again we are going to use the roller and put one knee on it. The goal is to turn by opening up the chest. How far the arm goes is not important.

Scapular Stability

Control of the shoulder blades is essential for healthy shoulders. When the scapular stabilizers can do their job the shoulder joint will have better alignment and movement.

Weak shoulder blades will allow the shoulder blades to travel forward. When we try to move in this posture, the humerus runs out of space to move.


This can lead to constant grinding on the joint which can be painful and potentially require a surgery down the road.

I really like Y variations to train the scap stabilizers. It is important not to arch the back or move quickly through this. It is basically an activation exercise which should be performed slow and controlled.

Anterior Core Control

Speaking of avoiding an arch in the back, anterior core control is a game changer for healthy shoulders. When we reach overhead or rotate it is common to just crank the shoulders into positions they shouldn’t be in.

The purpose of good anterior core control is to resist arching allowing for other segments to move freely. This is the essence of core stability.

Try using a wall press leg lower and do not let your low back pop up off of the floor. Its harder than it seems.

The Lats

Tight lats can reduce shoulder range of motion. The easiest way to reduce tightness in the lats is to roll them out. This is really painful until you get used to it. I think that’s why a lot of people skip out on this one.

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15 Best Exercises for Golfers