Shoulder range of motion is one of the more underrated things to screen for in fitness, especially for golfers.
This one test can give us valuable information about what exercises should or should not be done in the weight room.
If a golfer cannot reach overhead without compensation, then they should not press weights overhead until the restrictions are lifted.
90+% of the people that I screen do not pass their shoulder mobility screen. I am willing to bet that most of those people have spent some time pressing overhead.
We can screen for shoulder flexibility in a couple of ways. With my general athletes, I stand next to them and ask them to reach their hands over their head. I look for rib flare, whether the shoulders get to their ears or not, or both.
The TPI assessment for golfers does the same thing but rules out the rib flare. Golfers should stand with their back flat to a wall and reach their arms to the wall. Stop before the back pops off of the wall. This screen paints a clear picture of pure range of motion.
Good shoulder range of motion is important for golfers. Limitations or restrictions in shoulder flexibility can result in loss of posture, revers spine angle and coming over the top.
It is also really important for the fitness side of things. The screen I use with my athletes gives us 4 potential scenarios.
- Lack of shoulder range of motion, no rib flare
- Good shoulder range of motion, rib flare
- Lack of shoulder range of motion, rib flare
- Good shoulder range of motion, no rib flare
The fourth scenario means the athlete has no restrictions when it comes to overhead pressing. The landmine press and other variations are good fits for scenario 1 because it is not a pure overhead movement.
Scenario 2 golfers are not encouraged to go overhead either. A lot of anterior core control is needed with safe pressing variations.
Scenario 3 is ugly. This person really needs to choose their movements wisely. A lot of core and shoulder stability work are needed here.
Improving Shoulder Flexibility
I like looking at improving shoulder flexibility in 2 steps. You will notice that I have not added any shoulder range of motion drills. My reasoning is that shoulder flexibility is limited by soft tissue and core control. Improve those things and shoulder range of motion will improve. Shoulder stability drills are also important in a general program, but they will have less of an impact as the other two. Still do them, however.
-Foam Rolling the Lats
The lats directly affect shoulder flexibility. Rolling them out is one of the best ways to remove tension from.
I will warn you, it can be painful at first. The lats are one of the muscle groups that hurt more than others on the roller. This is precisely why you need to do a good job hitting them most days of the week.
Lay on your side and roll on the meaty part of your upper rib cage up to the arm pit. Find the spot of tension.
– Anterior Core Control (w/shoulder range of motion)
There are a few core exercises that can provide stability and shoulder range of motion. This is why direct shoulder flexibility drills may not be necessary. If we can practice that movement with the core activated, the benefits are going to multiply.
Deadbugs are a good place to start because they are unilateral, meaning only one arm is moving at a time. This allows good range of motion with core activation.
I then like to move to the KB pullover. The goal is to reach as far back as possible before the low back pops off of the ground. Start light and do not try to force motion that isn’t there.
Last in the progression is the overhead Pallof. It is much more active than the other two. Use a light band and try to reach all the way overhead. If you cannot get there with a stable torso, then you might not be ready for this one yet.
These core exercises will help your shoulder flexibility. Start with the lats anytime you can and soon it will be easy to roll them out.
If you are looking for more info on core training for golfers, check out the free report below.