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Strengthened & Supported:
The New Golfer Shoulder
I admitted in the August edition of FLAGSTICK that I am not an avid golfer.
But don’t turn the page just yet. Surprisingly, I may still be full of useful
information that could help you lower those handicaps, and hopefully stay
healthy and uninjured in the process. This month’s focus is the shoulders.
With the shoulders being a major factor in the golf swing, it doesn’t take a
bright individual to realize the potential improvements that can be made to
your golf score if you have a well structured, strengthened, supported and
uninjured shoulder joint.
Speaking generally about joints and the muscles that support them, typically the joints vulnerability to injury is directly
related to the range of movement that can be achieved within a joint. The shoulder joint is no exception. The anatomical
structuring of the shoulder joint allows for large variations in movement, but the trade-off is a less encased joint with a
high propensity for injury. This unfortunately makes the shoulder joint one of the most commonly injured joints in the
Chances are that you have heard the term rotator cuff before, and if so it was probably in reference to strengthening the
shoulder joint or an associated shoulder injury. However, the rotator cuff is not one specific muscle. In fact, the term
rotator cuff is used to express the group of muscles that help to stabilize and hold the head of the humerus in the shallow
Drew Casterton, B.Sc.
cavity of the scapula. The rotator cuff is in fact composed of 4 different muscles; inferiorly (bottom) it is the subscapularus,
while superiorly (top) it is the supraspinatus, and posteriorly it is the infraspinatus and teres minor. When these muscles
Certified Kinesiologist
are strong, the shoulder joint is more protected. Injuries are less common, and the golf swing will become more fluid
Executive Fitness Leaders
due to increased muscle control.
Ottawa, Ontario
Among golfers, the shoulder is a commonly affected site, with the lead shoulder, or the left shoulder in the right-handed
golfer, particularly vulnerable to injury. Common shoulder problems affecting golfers include subacromial impingement,
rotator cuff tears, glenohumeral (shoulder joint) instability, and glenohumeral arthrosis (joint degeneration). Many
individuals that suffer from these disorders will respond to nonsurgical treatments, including rest and a structured
program of physical therapy and strengthening. Additionally, a thorough understanding of the biomechanics of the golf
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swing is helpful in diagnosing and managing these injuries and further benefits can be obtained with subtle modifications
of the golf swing. If you are currently suffering from a shoulder injury, but just can’t put those clubs down, it might be
Exercise Mat & Dumbells worth talking to a pro, and getting that swing modified.
However, it is possible that all that rehabilitation may have been prevented with some foresight and proper strengthening.
Unfortunately, the majority of people wait until something is truly wrong before taking action. As a society, we are
geared more towards treatment rather than prevention. Common adages like “fight through the pain” and “if it’s not
broke, don’t fix it” exemplify this point. Therefore, it is fairly common for people to not realize the preventative value of
exercise, and rather wait until something goes wrong before attempting to change their focus and routines. With proper
preventative techniques, not only are you less predisposed for injury, but your game and scores will improve with
increased strength, joint stability and muscle control.
As previously mentioned, if you are currently dealing with a shoulder injury, there are many professionals out there that
will be able to help you get back on your game. If you don’t have a shoulder injury, start thinking prevention. You’ve
got nothing to lose except a potentially improved golf score and stronger shoulders. So be that bright individual; have
fun while staying healthy and you’ll never have to put those clubs down.
66 FGM
FALL 2008
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