Swing Without the Sting: Addressing Shoulder Pain in Golfers

Swing Without the Sting: Addressing Shoulder Pain in Golfers

For many, golf is a serene game; a marriage of skill, strategy, and the great outdoors. The rhythmic motion of the swing and the satisfaction of watching the ball soar across the fairway makes it a beloved sport for millions worldwide. However, like all sports, golf isn’t without its physical demands. One common ailment that afflicts golfers of all levels is shoulder pain. This blog aims to shed light on the causes, preventive measures, and potential treatments for shoulder pain in golfers, ensuring that your love for the game remains undeterred by physical discomfort.

Can Golf Cause Shoulder Blade Pain?

Can Golf Cause Shoulder Blade Pain?Absolutely. Golf, despite its leisurely pace and perception as a low-impact sport, can cause a range of musculoskeletal issues, including shoulder blade pain. Here’s why and how:

  • Repetitive Motion

The repetitive nature of the golf swing can strain muscles and other soft tissues. The act of swinging the club requires coordination between several muscle groups, including those around the shoulder blade, known as the scapular muscles.

  • Improper Technique

An improper swing or posture can place undue stress on the shoulder blade area. For instance, if a golfer over-extends during their backswing or doesn’t rotate their torso adequately, they can put excessive strain on the scapular muscles.

  • Overuse

Playing golf frequently without allowing adequate recovery can lead to overuse injuries. Over time, this can cause inflammation and pain in the muscles and tendons around the shoulder blade.

  • Scapular Dyskinesis

This refers to an abnormal movement or positioning of the shoulder blade, often due to muscle imbalances or fatigue. Golfers might develop this condition if certain muscles around the shoulder blade become weak or are not functioning optimally.

  • Rotator Cuff Involvement

The rotator cuff, a group of muscles and tendons surrounding the shoulder joint, plays a critical role in the golf swing. Injuries or strains in the rotator cuff can sometimes manifest as pain in the shoulder blade area.

  • Carrying the Golf Bag

If a golfer carries their bag instead of using a cart, the weight and pressure on one side can cause muscle imbalances and stress, leading to pain around the shoulder blade.

  • Previous Injuries

Golfers who have had previous shoulder or upper back injuries may experience a flare-up of symptoms when playing.

Is It OK To Play Golf With Shoulder Pain?

Playing golf with shoulder pain can be a double-edged sword. On one hand, mild shoulder discomfort might not significantly hinder your ability to play, and some physical activity can even be beneficial for certain musculoskeletal issues. However, if the pain is due to a recent injury, inflammation, or an unknown cause, golfing could exacerbate the problem.

The repetitive motion of the golf swing places significant stress on the shoulder joint and surrounding muscles. Playing through pain might lead to poor swing mechanics as you subconsciously try to compensate for the discomfort, potentially leading to further injuries. If you’re experiencing shoulder pain, it’s crucial to listen to your body.

While a slight golf shoulder pain might be manageable with proper warm-up and stretching, sharp or persistent pain is a warning sign. Before returning to the golf course, it would be wise to consult with a healthcare professional or physical therapist. They can provide guidance on the cause of the pain, potential treatments, and whether it’s safe to continue golfing. Remember, pushing through pain without proper assessment and care might sideline you for much longer than taking a brief hiatus to recover.

How Do I Relax My Shoulders In My Golf Swing?

How Do I Relax My Shoulders In My Golf Swing?Relaxing your shoulders in your golf swing is crucial for achieving fluidity, accuracy, and power. Tension in the shoulders can interfere with the rotation and alignment needed for a consistent golf shot. Here’s how to relax your golf shoulder pain:

  • Proper Warm-up

Before you start your round or hit balls at the range, engage in a warm-up routine. Stretch your shoulder muscles, rotate your arms in circles, and do some torso twists to get your upper body loose.

  • Posture Check

Begin by standing tall with your feet shoulder-width apart. When you bend from the hips to take your stance, ensure your back is straight. Your shoulders should be naturally down, not hunched or raised.

  • Grip

Hold the club with firmness but not with a death grip. If you grip the club too tightly, it will naturally cause tension in your shoulders. Imagine holding a bird: firmly enough that it won’t escape, but gently enough that you won’t hurt it.

  • Pre-Swing Routine

Before you swing, take a deep breath. As you exhale, let your shoulders drop and feel the tension release. This simple act can help to relax your entire upper body.

  • Swing Thought

Focus on turning with your chest or upper torso rather than your shoulders. Visualizing this can help reduce shoulder tension and improve rotation.

  • Practice Swings

Take a few smooth, slow practice swings feeling the weight of the club and emphasizing a relaxed shoulder turn. This will help you get a sense of the right tension level.

  • Stay Balanced

During the swing, concentrate on maintaining balance. When you’re balanced, it’s easier to stay relaxed. If you’re trying to swing too hard or too fast, you’re more likely to tense up.

  • Routine Relaxation

Engage in regular relaxation exercises or routines, like meditation or deep breathing exercises, of the course. This can help you manage tension and stress. This might translate to a more relaxed demeanor on the course.

  • Seek Instruction

If you’re struggling with tension despite your best efforts, consider taking a lesson from a golf professional. They can provide targeted advice and drills to help you relax and improve your swing mechanics.

Remember, golf is as much a mental game as it is a physical one. Mental tension can quickly lead to physical tension. By approaching each shot with a clear, calm mindset, you’ll be better positioned to maintain a relaxed and fluid swing.

When To Seek Medical Attention For Golf Shoulder Pain?

When To Seek Medical Attention For Golf Shoulder Pain?Golf shoulder pain can often be dismissed as a minor inconvenience or an inevitable consequence of an active game. However, not all shoulder discomfort should be taken lightly. Knowing when to seek medical attention can be crucial in preventing long-term damage or complications.

Here are instances when you should consider consulting a medical professional:

  • Persistent Pain: If pain lasts for more than a week or two, even with rest and over-the-counter pain relief, it’s time to see a doctor.
  • Sharp or Intense Pain: If you experience a sudden sharp pain during or after playing, it might indicate a more serious injury such as a tear or fracture.
  • Limited Range of Motion: Difficulty in raising the arm, stiffness, or a marked decrease in the range of motion in the shoulder may indicate conditions like frozen shoulder or rotator cuff injuries.
  • Swelling or Bruising: Visible swelling, inflammation, or bruising around the shoulder area warrants a prompt check-up.
  • Numbness or Tingling: Any sensation of numbness, tingling, or ‘pins and needles’ in the arm, hand, or shoulder area could indicate nerve compression or other neural issues.
  • Pain at Night: If shoulder pain disrupts sleep or if it’s particularly bothersome at night. Then, this may be indicative of more than just regular muscle soreness.
  • Weakness: Feeling a lack of strength when trying to lift objects or perform daily tasks can be a sign of a more severe underlying injury.
  • Audible Sounds: If you hear popping, clicking, or grinding sounds in your shoulder during movement, especially if accompanied by pain, it could be an issue with the joint or surrounding tissues.
  • Recurring Issues: If you’ve had previous shoulder injuries or problems, and the pain feels similar or returns frequently, it’s essential to get it checked out.

When in doubt, it’s always better to err on the side of caution. Early intervention can often lead to quicker recovery and prevent potential complications.


In the intricate dance of golf, the shoulder plays a pivotal role, gracefully orchestrating power and precision with every swing. Yet, like all diligent performers, it can succumb to strain and injury. Recognizing the nuances of shoulder pain, understanding its origins, and knowing when to seek medical intervention can be the difference between fleeting discomfort and lasting damage.

As avid golfers, prioritizing our physical well-being ensures not only the longevity of our game but also the richness of the experience, unmarred by preventable pain. Always remember, a mindful approach to health can make every round on the greens both enjoyable and pain-free. If you’re experiencing Shoulder pain, physical therapy for shoulder pain at PhysioMantra can help: Book an online physical therapy session.