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How to Avoid Shoulder Pain While Playing Golf with Physical Therapy

How to Avoid Shoulder Pain While Playing Golf with Physical Therapy

Golf… it’s a sport that calls to mind beautiful Saturday mornings, a cold beer at the club after a great 18-hole day, and that elusive birdie you’ve been trying to get for years. And while this all sounds pretty much idyllic, you might be surprised to know that playing golf causes nearly as many injuries as some contact sports! 


It’s true, and while shocking, it actually makes a lot of sense. 


The techniques players employ in their swings, gaits, and strokes, often have painful consequences for the back and shoulders. In fact, shoulder pain is so common amongst golfers that it has fast become one of the injuries we treat most often. 


So, in this post, we chat to you about what it means to have shoulder pain, how you know it’s golf-related, and what to do if you’re suffering from it right now. With that having been said, let’s tee up and get started!


What are the symptoms of a shoulder injury?


For all you golf enthusiasts out there, the title probably makes some sense. No doubt you’ve yelled ‘fore’ out onto the green after miscalculating the wind gusts, right? Well, just as you might warn the unsuspecting golfers out ahead of you, so too your body yells its equivalent of ‘fore’ at you when it’s in distress and pain. 


Really, as you’re playing golf you might actually feel a tug, a pull, or even discomfort in your shoulder as you swing – that’s your body telling you to ‘watch out’ and ‘lookout ahead’. In fact, it’s your body’s extremely sophisticated way of warning you about probable damage and/or injury to your shoulder if you continue swinging the way you are. And yet, despite this impressive alarm system, many golfers continue to swing through the pain as though it will disappear on its own. And what a mistake that is! For those who ignore the signs, shoulder pain is really just a few yards away.


What happens if you’ve ignored the warning signs and are now experiencing shoulder pain and discomfort? 


What does that mean and what can be done? One thing to understand is that the shoulder is a complex joint; the movement and mobility of it hinge on the rotator cuff, that is, the section of your shoulder made up of muscles and tendons designed to keep your arm in the socket of your shoulder. Hence, shoulder pain in this area is often referred to as a rotator cuff injury and, yes, you guessed it, these are most commonly seen amongst avid golfers. 


It’s not too difficult to take a guess as to why the rotator cuff is at risk during a golf game. The movement involved in swinging your club actually places massive amounts of strain on the rotator cuff, causing the muscles and tendons to twist and bend in ways that are most unnatural to them. 


So, while repeatedly swinging a golf club overhead may well be great for your game, it’s not equally as good for your shoulder. The constant, unvarying repetition of a single incorrect movement can, in fact, wreak havoc later down the line. In effect, golf actually places your shoulder at a much highest risk of injury than almost any other sport. 


And, unfortunately, the pain that accompanies a rotator cuff injury is far from pretty. Symptoms include the following:


  • Aches and pain in the shoulder itself. 
  • Weakness when raising the shoulder.
  • Popping sounds in your shoulder as you swing. 
  • Difficulty doing routine tasks: combing hair, brushing teeth, showering. 
  • Difficulty holding things above waist height.
  • Trouble sleeping. 
  • Loss in your range of motion.


In addition to all of the above, experiencing a shoulder injury while you are playing golf means that all aspects of your life will be affected. From your actual game to your social life, family life, and peace of mind. We have met so many patients who, before coming to see us, have felt completely defeated by their golfing injuries. 


So, what can be done? 


If you haven’t yet experienced an injury, that’s great. However, it doesn’t mean you’re out of the woods yet. It is absolutely vital that you learn the correct golfing posture and swinging technique in order to avoid injuries in the future. A physical therapist will gladly help you with this information. Wear the right golfing gear, too, and be mindful of the weight you carry out on the green. 


If, however, you are currently experiencing shoulder pain related to golf, the best possible action you can take is to visit a qualified, hands-on, professional physical therapist. A physical therapist will treat the root cause of your problem, thereby relieving pain effectively and safely and making sure that your recovery is a permanent one. There are no temporary solutions, here. 


Furthermore, a physical therapist will give you specific, tailor-made exercises that you can do at home in order to ensure that you remain pain-free. What’s more, you’ll learn the correct techniques for the best golf game of your life. You know as well as we do that your golfing prowess is less about how hard you swing the club, but much more about how you do it.


Find out what’s best for you by visiting a physical therapist today.


We know how debilitating shoulder pain can be, especially if you love golf. Unfortunately, getting back into the swing of things can be a struggle. If you’re not sure how to do it, or where to start, we invite you to talk to one of our specialists today. We’ll eliminate your pain and get you back to playing the game you love.

Written by Hoang Tran


About the author – Hoang Tran 

Hoang Tran is a Miami certified hand therapist , the owner of Hands-on Therapy Services and author of the book “The Hands-On Approach”. She loves helping people with hand, neck and shoulder problems, because she knows how bad and debilitating they can get if not addressed and treated properly (once and for all!).  


The aim of her occupational therapy practice in the Miami area is to bring patients back to full functionality, without pills, injections or surgery. Occupational and Physical Therapy are both offered at Hands-On Therapy by our experienced therapists who provide a comprehensive approach to your care. 

If you are struggling with shoulder, neck pain or hand pain, including 


or any other hand, elbow or neck injuries, speak with one of our specialists for FREE by signing up for a 30-minute Discovery Visit.


Even if you have tried other forms of treatment and are still NOT sure what’s going wrong and need better clarification on what can actually work to avoid the shoulder pain and impingement from becoming worse, there’s no risk in giving us a call at 786-615-9879 or requesting a Free Discovery Visit. 


A Discovery Visit is for someone who is not sure therapy with us can help them, wants to speak with the specialist to feel confident that therapy is the right choice for them, and is SURE they don’t want to live in pain, worry, and feeling like they can’t do certain things just because of the pain. 


In these difficult times, we are here to help. Telehealth and online sessions are available!




The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.

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