22 Simple (but important) Shoulder Stretches for Golf

(and why they are crucial)

In this post we are going to review over 20 simple and crucial shoulder stretches for golf that you can start today.

We will show you the role shoulder flexiblity affects your golf swing as well as some of the game’s best. 

Next we will dive into the list of shoulder stretches for golf.

Finally because you are so AWESOME. We include a downloadable FREE guide.

Let’s start.

Shoulder Stretches for Golf Cover

Contents

Chapter 1 Research behind using your glutes in the golf swing

Chapter 1

Why shoulder flexiblity matters in the golf swing

Shoulder stretches for golf that require no equipment

Chapter 2

Shoulder stretches for golf that require no equipment.

Shoulder stretches with a band, PVC or foam roller

Chapter 3

Shoulder stretches with a band, PVC or foam roller

Shoulder stretches for golf performed against the wall

Chapter 4

Shoulder stretches for golf done against a wall

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Chapter 1

Why shoulder flexiblity matters in the golf swing

Before we get started, lets review the role your shoulder flexibility plays in the golf swing.

We examine some of the best swings in the game

Don’t care about the science?

That’s fine, just skip to the next chapter.

Chapter 1 Research behind using your glutes in the golf swing

At first glance it may seem that the shoulders are not that important in your golf swing.

In fact our chart below shows the joints around the right and left shoulder aren’t responsible for creating a lot of work in the golf swing.

Using your glutes in the golf swing - joints that matter

And definitely not as much as the hips, glutes and your core

But some research has shown that up to 20% of total clubhead speed is generated by the shoulders. 

Let’s review some boring terminology. 

  1. Stick your arms out in front of you with your thumbs up. 
  2. For you right handed golfers, take your left arms and point your elbow to the target. That is called “internal rotation.” You turned your left arm towards your spine. 
  3. Now place your right hand over your left as if gripping the club. Unless you have a super weak left hand, your right arm has to externally rotate (i.e., bicep facing forward
  4. Go to the top of your swing. Notice how your right palm is facing up to the sky. That is even more external rotation of the right arm away from your center line/spine

This internal and external rotation in the arms is what allows you to set proper positions at address and at the top of the back swing.

We have our own clients perform this Shoulder IR/ER Test (along with a bunch other). 

On top of all that, your shoulders have to move laterally (abduction) as well as overhead (flexion) to get into a proper position at the top of the swing.

And these things get more drastic as you drop into the slot and transition to the downswing. 

Shoulder Flexibility and Distance off the tee.

Let’s examine some of the game’s best on the PGA tour.

In the image below we see some of the biggest hitters off the tee on the PGA tour. Rory, Matt Wolf, DJ, Bubba and the beefed up Bryson (more to come on that guy in a later post).

 

Long drivers of the pga tour and shoulder flexibility

Over the last decade, these guys have led the PGA tour in distance off the tee. 

One unique thing they share is a relatively high elbow position. 

We show you this vis a vis the relationship between the elbow and the chin. 

In all cases, the elbow is at chin height or slightly higher. 

Some have a higher elbow (Bubba and Wolf) while others are right at chin level (Rory, DJ, Bryson). 

But for all, their right elbow is at chin height or higher. 

This requires a LARGE amount of shoulder flexibility. 

It requires a ton of shoulder abduction, flexion internal and external rotation!

Now let’s examine some of the shorter hitters on tour.

Below we show Webb Simpson, Ryan Armour, Brian Gay and D.A. Points.

Short drivers and shoulder flexibility in golf

In all these cases their elbows are below chin level.

Do these guys lack in shoulder flexibility? I don’t know, unless they would take our upper body test. 

But to generate clubhead speed, they have to make it up somewhere else. (A la more rotation and speed at extension).

Now I will caveat this with these guys are also some of the more accurate drivers on tour. 

There are exceptions, I understand that. Jim Furyk has a very high right elbow but has never been a long hitter on tour. But he has been a very accurate driver. 

My point is that to create more swing speed, ball speed and clubhead speed, shoulder flexibility and strength play a big role!

In fact, one of the things I am working on in my swing with my coach, Lucas Wald, is a bit higher hands in the backswing.

I lack in some overhead shoulder flexibility (flexion & abduction) so this makes it a bit of a challenge. But I am seeing progress.

Rob vs DJ and elbow position

 

The photo is from May 2020, note the elbow relationship of me on the left vs. DJ on the right.

OK enough, let’s dive into some of the stretches.

Chapter 2

Shoulder stretches for golf that require no equipment.

Ok enough with the science.

Let’s get into some shoulder stretches for golfers like you that require no equipment and you can do at home.

 

Shoulder stretches for golf that require no equipment

Armless Prayer

Armless Prayer Shoulder Stretch for Golf

Click the image above for a full video tutorial

Points of Performance

  • You will begin face down on the floor with your butt on your heels.
  • Your head is in line with your torso.
  • Bend your arms so your elbows rest on the ground.
  • Reach behind and try to touch your shoulder blades.
  • Head is neutral.

Cat & Cow

Cat & Cow Stretch

Click the image above for a full video tutorial

Points of Performance

  • Setup on the floor on your hands and knees.
  • To begin the movement you will tuck your chin as you raise your upper back and shoulders to the sky.
  • Once you reach your end range of motion, then pull with your upper back as your uncurl your chin and send your belly button to the floor.
  • This is a dynamic movement so don’t hang out in any of the end range of motions.

Child’s Pose

Childs Pose Shoulder Stretch for Golf

Click the image above for a full video tutorial

Points of Performance

  • Start by laying face down on the ground with your butt on your heels.
  • Keep your head and torso in a straight line.
  • Reach your arms out.
  • Palms are flat on the floor.
  • Head remains in a nice neutral position.

Medium Pec Stretch

Medium Pec Stretch

Click the image above for a full video tutorial

Points of Performance

  • Place one elbow in contact the wall at about eye level.
  • The palm is flat against the wall.
  • Turn your body and torso away from the wall.
  • Hold for a set amount of time before switching sides. 

Rombo Stretch

Rombo Stretch

Click the image above for a full video tutorial

Points of Performance

  • Sit on the floor with your butt on your heels.
  • Start by bend your arms to form 90 degree angle between your biceps and forearms.
  • Place one elbow in the elbow crease of the other.
  • Then raise both arms up to where you feel a stretch in your shoulders and upper back.
  • To get a more intense stretch raise higher.

Self Hug Stretch

Self Hug Stretch

Click the image above for a full video tutorial

Points of Performance

  • To set up, sit on the ground with your knees apart and big toes together.
  • Give yourself a big hug by reaching your arms around your body.
  • As you start to open up inch your fingers further around your back.
  • Hold the position for 1-2 minutes before reversing which arm is on top.

Scorpion Stretch

Scorpion Stretch

Click the image above for a full video tutorial

Points of Performance

  • To set up, start by lying face down on the ground.
  • Your arms will be stretched out to the side.
  • Rotate and place one leg behind your body while keeping both palms down on the floor.
  • Only go as far as you feel comfortable.
  • You will feel this stretch in the shoulders as well as the hips and quads.
  • Hold and perform on each side.

Thoracic Rotation Extensions

Thoracic Rotations Extensions

Click the image above for a full video tutorial

Points of performance

  • Set up on the floor by placing your knees out wide and your toes together.
  • Sit your butt on your heels.
  • Your hands will be placed right in front of your knees with palms on the floor
  • Place one hand behind your head.
  • Then move your other hand to where your aforementioned hand was (see video).
  • From here, rotate, your torso down to the floor before rotating back open as far as you feel comfortable.
  • Perform an equal amount on both sides.

Bar Hangs

Bar Hangs

Click the image above for a full video tutorial

Points of Performance

  • You will need access to a pull up bar for this shoulder stretch for golf.
  • Place your hands about shoulder width or slightly wider on the pull up bar.
  • You can use an overhand or underhand grip.
  • Grasp the pull up bar and let gravity stretch you.
  • If that is too intense, you can gently place your feet or toes on the floor.
  • You will feel this stretch in your shoulders, upper back, chest and forearms.

Reverse Dumbbell Pull Overs

Reverse Dumbbell Pull Over

Click the image above for a full video tutorial

Points of Performance

  • Start by laying on a bench.
  • Use a very light dumbbell and hold it overhead in both hands.
  • Keeping your arms straight and without arching your back, send the dumbbell overhead.
  • Let gravity pull the weight down to stretch your shoulders, upper back and chest.
  • Hold for a short amount of time before resting.

Chapter 3

Shoulder Stretches with a Band, Foam Roller or PVC

Let’s break out the foam roller, bands and even a PVC pipe for these. 

If you read our post on back stretches for golf, some of these first appeared there. 

But we also added a few new ones. 

Shoulder stretches with a band, PVC or foam roller

Foam Roll Back in an Overhead Position

Foam Roll Back Hands Overhead

Click the image above for a full video tutorial

Points of Performance

  • You will need a foam roller for this one.
  • Start by laying face up on the floor.
  • Place your upper back on the foam roller and hands overhead.
  • Extend your arms overhead.
  • Gently roll your upper back and shoulders in a back and forth motion on the foam roller.

Foam Roll Back in a Hugging Position

Foam Roll Back Self Hug

Click the image above for a full video tutorial

Points of Performance

  • Set up by laying face up on the floor.

  • Place your upper back on the foam roller. 

  • This time wrap your arms around your torso as if giving yourself a big hug.

  • This really opens up the hard to reach muscles in your upper back and shoulders.

  • Gently roll your upper back and shoulders in a back and forth motion on the foam roller.

  • Lean to one side at a time to really open up that side of your shoulder and upper back.

Banded Lat stretch

Banded Lat Stretch

Click the image above for a full video tutorial

Use can also use the banded lat stretch for your upper back but despite the name, this will also stretch out the shoulders as well as chest. 

Points of Performance:

  • Set up by looping a band on a pull up bar at eye level or higher.
  • Place your hand through the loop of the band with your palm face up.
  • Keeping your arm relaxed and straight, hinge at the hip.
  • Let your chest sink down to the floor to feel.
  • You will really feel this stretch in your shoulders, upper back and chest.

Banded Overhead Stretch

Banded Overhead Stretch

Click the image above for a full video tutorial

This banded upper back stretch is a great shoulder stretch for golf because it also works on your rotational flexibility.

Points of Performance:

  • Set up by looping the band on a support structure at about eye level.
  • Place your hand that is farthest from the anchoring point through the loop of the band.
  • Grab the band.
  • Gently turn your entire body away from the anchoring point, letting your arm relax.
  • Let the band do all the work and enjoy the stretch.

Archer Arms with Saddle Legs

Archer Arms with Saddle Legs

Click the image above for a full video tutorial

Points of performance:

  • Sit on the floor with your butt on your ankles and your knees out wide.
  • The chest is nice and tall.
  • Reach one hand up to the ceiling and the other hand down by your side.
  • Grasp both hands behind your back.
  • If you don’t quite have the flexibility to join your hands behind your back you can use a towel grasping one end in each hand.

Pass Thrus

Pass Thrus

Click the image above for a full video tutorial

Points of performance:

  • Grasp your driver or a PVC pipe with both arms straight.

  • Elbows stay locked with a wide grip.

  • Keeping your arms straight, loop them up and over the top of your your head. 

  • If you have the flexibility, touch your back before returning the bar to the front of your body in the same manner. 

  • If the movement is easy, your hands in closer with each pass.

  • Continue to move your hands in in until you can barely pass over the top.

Shoulder External Rotation Stretch

Shoulder External Rotation with PVC

Click the image above for a full video tutorial

This is one of my favorite shoulders stretches for golf. You can use a PVC pipe like I do here in the tutorial. or you can use an alignment stick, even a long iron.  

Points of performance:

  • Grasp the end of a PVC pipe about 12-18 inches from the end. 
  • Rotate the pipe/stick/club out from your body keeping your elbow pointing forward and tricep parallel to the ground. 
  • Lay the pipe/stick/club over your arm. 
  • Reach underneath to grab it with the other hand as shown in the picture. 
  • Gently pull with the other hand feeling the stretch in your shoulder. 
  • Repeat on the other side. 

Chapter 4

Shoulder stretches for golf performed against the wall

OK, it’s time to move over to the wall for these stretches for your shoulders. 

 

We program a lot of these in our golf workout programs as well as for our online fitness clients

Shoulder stretches for golf performed against the wall

Upper pec stretch

Upper Pec Stretch

Click the image above for a full video tutorial

Points of Performance:

  • Set up by placing one elbow in contact with the wall at about forehead height.
  • The palm of the hand should remain flat against the wall as well.
  • Then simply turn our body away from the wall
  • You will feel this gentle stretch in the shoulder as well as the chest.

Rainbow Stretch

Rainbow stretch

Click the image above for a full video tutorial

Points of Performance:

  • Set up by sitting on the ground with your back up against a wall.
  • Spread your legs out in the shape of a V.
  • Raise one hand overhead and lean to the side.
  • Relax as you let yourself fall into the stretch.

Seated Wall Slides

Seated Wall Slides

Click the image above for a full video tutorial

Points of Performance

  • Sit against a wall with your lower and upper back flat against the wall.
  • Legs are straight out in in front of your.
  • Raise your arms so they are against the wall with the triceps parallel to the floor and the arms forming 90 degree angles.
  • From here, slide the back of your hands up against the wall keeping your back and arms against the wall as well.
  • Finish with your arms overhead as close together as your flexibility will allow you.

Turnback Stretch

Turnback Shoulder Stretch for Golf

Click the image above for a full video tutorial

This is similar to the upper pec stretch but targets more of the shoulder and bicep.

Points of Performance:

  • Set up by placing one palm in contact with the wall with your wrist facing foward.
  • The palm of the hand should remain flat against the wall the entire time.
  • Turn your body away from the wall
  • You will feel this gentle stretch in the front of the shoulder.

Wall Hinge

Wall Hinge

Click the image above for a full video tutorial

To wrap it up this is one of my favorite shoulder stretches for golf. It works on the shoulders as well as the upper back.

  • Stand arms length from the wall.
  • Place your hands flat against the wall.
  • Hinge at the hips letting your chest face the ground.
  • Maintain a nice lumbar curve and feel as if your chest is sinking towards the floor.

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