TL 14

Tom LaFountain

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One of the common adjustments golfers will make with their swing is changing their set up position relative to the ball. Since your body position relative to the ball is very important for optimal ball striking corrections are periodically necessary. If you are advised to move closer to the ball or a little farther away from the ball at address be aware it will require your body to take on a new demand.

Any time the body takes on a new demand the body will have to accommodate and adapt to master that change. Although this position change seems rather mundane it is not unusual for it to create shoulder symptoms. Pain, achiness and persistent stiffness can occur in one or both shoulders. Usually the pain is felt in the front or upper-outer part of the shoulder. 

As you move your hands away from the body some golfers do this by protracting the scapula (shoulders blades move forward). This position exposes the rotator cuff to potential impingement. Reaching out in front of your body even a little demands your shoulder to change position and alignment. The more flexible your body is the better you can comfortably do this. If you are not as mobile your shoulders blades may forfeit some of their stability and protract more than required to reach in front of your body. If this occurs rotator cuff impingement will be magnified at the apex of the backswing and follow through. The probability of rotator cuff damage therefore increases.

To tolerate reaching in front of your body you need to improve shoulder mobility and scapular stability. Once shoulder-scapular-thoracic interaction is addressed with manual therapy and clinical exercise the golfer will find this swing adjustment easier to master and their game will improve. Doing upright rows and scapular retraction exercises are a good start to stabilizing the scapula. If pain occurs with these exercises stop and consult with a sports medicine specialist. For further shoulder exercises go to and look for clinical exercise protocol.


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