Shoulder flexibility for golf is an essential aspect of a fluid golf swing. The shoulder joint itself is a classic ball and socket joint. Similar to the hip but with a lot less stabilization. This design allows the joint a lot of motion in all planes of movement but puts it at a greater risk of injury.
Even as mobile as the shoulder joint is made to be, if not moved through its full range of motion on a regular basis, golfers over 50 will begin to very quickly lose the motion needed for a consistent golf swing.
So lets get technical for one sentence and define the motions that we want to target in the shoulder. The motions most commonly limited that restrict the golf swing include the motions of ABDuction, horizontal ADDuction, and external rotation.
Formal definitions out of the way, lets focus on why you might need to work on your shoulder motion.
The Golf Backswing – Left Shoulder And Arm
In regards to your left arm (assuming you are right handed…no offense to the south paws out there, we love you too), the left arm needs to reach across the body during the backswing. The upper half of your left arm should be touching your left chest muscle (called horizontal adduction).
Right Shoulder And Arm
We find a lot of golfers over 50 without lacking the shoulder external rotation needed to get the golf swing on plane. This will cause your elbow to “fly out” or “chicken wing” in your backswing.
As I have mentioned in previous articles, there are two different ways that you can and should stretch the shoulder. Use both stretches involving static holding and stretches that are more dynamic, with shorter hold times.
Dynamic Golf StretchesDynamic stretches address both muscle/tendon length and the mobility of the shoulder joint itself. Generally, you don’t want to hold a specific position for more than 5 seconds with dynamic stretching. Below is a great dynamic stretch to improve shoulder mobility for a fuller, more fluid backswing.
1. Alternating Arm Cross golf Stretch
Begin with arms in front of you. Reach across your body with one arm and use the other arm to increase the stretch while rotating your head the opposite direction. Hold for 3 seconds and repeat to the opposite side. Do 10+ repetitions.
2. Wall Angels Golf Stretch
Wall angels address both shoulder abduction and external rotation. This is a great stretch for the shoulders and is also great for improving posture and avoiding the “hunchback” appearance.
Back flat against the wall. Make an L shape with your arms trying to keep arms flush against the wall (do the best you can). Keeping your elbow bend consistent, move your arms up and down on the wall trying to keep your arms flush. Perform for 5 minutes moving slowly.
Static Golf StretchesStatic stretches should be held for 20-30 seconds and performed 3x’s daily to be effective. If your shoulder motion is very limited and you really want to take care of business, gradually increase to 10+ repetitions daily.
1. The Knot Golf Stretch
You can do this stretch on your stomach or standing against a wall. Cross your arms as shown in the picture and lean into the mat. Hold for 30 seconds then switch arm positions so that the arm that was on top is not below the other arm.
2. Shoulder External Rotation Golf Stretch
Sit next to a table/counter and place your forearm on the surface PARALLEL TO YOUR BODY. Bend forward at the hips until you feel a strong stretch in your shoulder. Hold for 30 seconds…repeat often.
3. Left Shoulder Backswing Golf Stretch
Get into your golf stance with something to grab onto next to your right shoulder. Reach across with your left hand at shoulder height. Stretch option #1: rotate your neck and hips as far as you can to the left and hold for 30 seconds. Option Stretch #2: Keeping your left hand stable, squat down by bending your knees until stretch is felt in the shoulder. Hold for 30 seconds.
4. Right Shoulder Backswing Golf Stretch
Stand with something to grab onto on your right side at shoulder height and arms length away. Reach out and hold with your right hand as pictured. Option #1 stretch: rotate your body away from your right hand until stretch is felt and hold for 30 seconds.
Option stretch #2: Keeping your right hand in place, squat down by bending your knees until stretch is felt in right shoulder, chest, and arms and hold for 30 seconds.