The shoulder is a multi-planar, ball and socket joint. Think about it like a golf ball on a tee. The structure of this joint allows for movement in all directions to achieve any activity. In the golf swing, the arm and shoulder allow for you to achieve full range of motion in your backswing and downswing by completing the last few degrees of movement. But along with more mobility, means inherently less stability.
To summarize, the shoulder allows you to maneuver a long lever in any direction from a relatively small joint. To achieve the movement you want in the swing we need full, active range of motion in your shoulder. To protect your shoulders, we need stability surrounding these movements.
What does it mean to stabilize your shoulders?
Many tissues surround the shoulder joint that provide stability to the joint itself: muscles, ligaments and connective tissues. Weakness of these tissues, specifically the rotator cuff muscles, can lead to compensation and increased risk for injury. These types of injuries can lead to loss in range of motion and pain which can potentially have a large, negative impact on your golf swing. To stabilize your shoulders means to appropriately strengthen the surrounding muscles AND to strengthen them throughout your shoulders full range of motion.
What do you need to understand about the shoulder muscles?
There are four rotator cuff muscles that provide stability and strength during movements of the shoulder joint. These muscles are small and primarily provide movement at shoulder height or below. To strengthen the rotator cuff muscles, low resistance and high repetitions in specific positions are key. Alternatively, when moving your arm above shoulder height, your shoulder blade begins to work causing large back muscles to kick in allowing you to increase resistance.
Overhead Shoulder Raises
Holding free weights in each hand (<10#), extend arms in front of you with elbows straight throughout exercise. Open arms away from each other and then bring arms overhead. Return to starting position reversing through the original movement and repeat. Complete this exercise for three sets of 15 repetitions.
90/90 Shoulder External Rotation
Place your arm and elbow at 90 degrees. Holding a free weight (<10#), or utilizing an elastic band or cable at the gym, rotate arm backward and forward completing your full available range. Your upper arm should stay in line with your shoulders throughout the exercise. Complete this exercise on both left and right for three sets of 15 repetitions.
Medicine Ball Holds
Hold a medicine ball (<8#) extended in front of you. Try to keep elbows as straight as possible. While in this position, squeeze your shoulder blades together (down and back). Hold the medicine ball in this position for 30-60 seconds or until fatigue, repeat three repetitions.
Shoulder Diagonals – Up
With cable arm set at lowest point, grip the cable with arm down and across body with thumb down. In a diagonal pattern, bring arm across your body and up to opposite side finishing with thumb rotated up. Alternatively, can complete exercise with elastic band. Return to starting position and repeat. Complete this exercise for three sets of 15 repetitions.
Amanda Kayser is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and a Titleist Performance Institute certified practitioner. Dr. Kayser works with clients privately and at Four Seasons Golf and Sports Club in Las Colinas. You can contact Dr. Kayser at www.Kayserfitness.com