Shoulder Workouts and Injury Prevention

Shoulder injuries are one of the most common golf-related injuries. Preventing these issues from arising can help keep you from being sidelined for any extended period of time. You shoulder workouts should focus on a few key areas in order to help improve stability as well as correct any imbalances that you may have. Key areas include the rotator cuff and the scapular stabilizers.


Rotator Cuff

Your shoulder joint is the most mobile joint in the body. While this mobility allows us to perform all sorts of advanced activities such as sports it comes at the price of stability. The shoulder very commonly gets injured because it is primarily held together by soft tissue. Contrast it with the hip joint (the joint that resembles it the most) to really understand this aspect. The hip is the traditional ball and socket joint. While it also is very mobile, it also has a socket in which is sits that significantly increases its stability. You shoulder, however, is comprised of a round surface and a relatively flat surface. There is no socket to protect it. The muscles and ligaments that hold it in place can have very large forces placed through them which in turn causes them to breakdown and become injured.

Many times these muscles can become injured by muscle imbalances. The rotator cuff muscles are generally weaker in relation to some of the other muscles that also are located around the region. Much larger muscles such as the pectoralis major and the latissimus dorsi can very easily overpower smaller muscles. Many shoulder workouts focus only on these larger groups which leads to imbalances.

Specific rotator cuff exercises include internal and external rotation with a band or cable column, sidelying shoulder exernal rotation with free weight, caption, and PNF exercises.  For a complete rundown of these exercises, please check out my rotator cuff exercises page.

Scapular Stabilizers

The scapular stabilizers are a group of muscles located around your shoulder blades that help contribute to strength and stability. Like the rotator cuff, these muscles are also very often neglected in the weight room. How many times do you see someone (maybe even yourself) performing 5-6 specific exercises for your chest, yet only one for your mid back? This is exactly where imbalances occur.

For golf, strengthening these mid back exercises are extremely important (especially on your lead side) for developing a more powerful swing. Specific muscles that you need to work on include all three aspects of the trapezius muscle, the rhomboids, teres major, and the serratus anterior. While each of these muscles individually has its own actions, combined the form various "force couples" which help rotate your shoulder blade whenever you elevate your arm.

Specific exercises to target these areas include:

  • Rows
  • Lat pull downs or pull ups
  • Horizontal shoulder abduction
  • Shoulder extension
  • Hughston exercises
  • Serratus punches
  • Serratus push ups

...and that is just naming a few.

Proper Warm Up

In addition to performing shoulder workouts, a proper warm up prior to your round will also go a long way to helping prevent injuries. Since your shoulder muscles are heavily involved in the golf swing, making sure that these muscles are loosened up and getting good blood flow is crucial for maximum function. Targeting larger muscles such as your pecs, traps, and lats is always a good idea but also throw in general exercises such as arm swings and circles for a more dynamic approach.

Your pre round warmup should be low intensity motions with minimal hold times in order to get maximum benefit.

Conclusion

They keys to preventing shoulder injuries in golf a proper flexibility program, strength training routine, a pre round warmup, and of course good swing mechanics. Shoulder injuries can keep you off of the course for a long period of time so prevention of these issues is extremely important.



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