Do you have a short backswing?

Are you having trouble keeping your golf swing on one plane?

If so you should consider testing your shoulder mobility. 

If you find that your shoulders are limiting your swing, there are golf fitness exercises that can improve your shoulder mobility.

The test is simple, but easier if you have another person nearby to help gauge your mobility.

As with any golf fitness exercise or test, pain is not allowed.  If at any time you feel pain stop!  Get the issue checked out by a trained medical professional.

Shoulder Mobility Test

The steps of the shoulder mobility test are as follows:

  1. Stand straight up, have your spotter stand behind you with a 12-inch ruler or some other device they can use to measure.
  2. To test your left shoulder mobility, raise your right arm straight up overhead.
  3. Bend your right elbow and lower your right palm behind the back of your neck and slide it down your back and between your shoulder blades.
  4. Reach behind your back with your left hand just above your butt, so the back of your hand rests on the middle of your back.
  5. Now slide your right hand down and your left hand up to try to touch the fingers of both hands.  Stop if you feel any pain.
  6. Have your spotter measure the minimum distance between the fingertips of the right and left hand. If your hands can overlap that is good, measure the overlap.
  7. Repeat with the other arm, left arm up, right arm behind.
  8. Record both of these measurements.

Shoulder Mobility Test Results

The first test results are a baseline measurement.  It is a good idea to re-test your shoulder mobility monthly to see if there are improvements.  So you can have some idea what is good mobility and what isn’t refer to the bulleted list below.
  • Excellent = Fingers overlap
  • Good = Fingers touch
  • Average = Fingers are less than two inches apart
  • Poor = Fingers are more than two inches apart

Besides recording the distance between your fingers in inches, also record the score based on the list below.

  • A score of “3” is given if fists are within one hand length.
  • A score of “2” is given if fists are within one-and-a-half hand lengths.
  • A score of “1” is given if fists are not within one-and-a-half hand lengths.
  • A score of “0” is given if there is some pain in any portion of the screen.

A Scoring Example

Using the pictures to the right, (assume they are the same person), I would record the measurement as, L 3, R 1.

I would also record the gap or overlap in inches as another comparative measurement. 

Scoring Explanation

Let me explain, in the first photo the left arm is behind the back and the fingers can touch. The test is performed on the shoulder of the low arm (left in this case) and since the fingers are within one hand width of each other it is recorded as L3.

In the lower photo, the right hand is behind the back and the distance between the fingers is greater than one-and-a-half hand widths (we are assuming there is no pain). So we would record this as R1.

Again the assumption is this is one person so you would record the shoulder mobility test as L3, R1.

It is a good idea to record the distance too, as it is a more precise measurement for comparisons between tests.

Case in point, the upper photo a recorded L3 really can not be used to determine if there is improvement from one test to another. But if we record it as an overlap of 3-inches (since she is grasping hands) we can tell in the next test if there has been improvement, more overlap, or degradation if she can’t overlap the hands as far.

The L 3, R 1 notations will be used later with other mobility tests so they aren’t useless. 

An Exercise for Shoulder Mobility

An excellent golf fitness exercise for shoulder mobility is the Overhead Floor Slide.

Maybe you have heard them called wall slides.
Trust me the floor works better, I have been known to knock pictures off the wall, and once I marked up the paint with my wrist watch.
Yeah, that is why I use the floor now.
This golf fitness exercise will open up tight chest muscles, increase the mobility of the shoulders, and activate the back. It will increase the range of motion of the shoulders and reduce the risk of an injury.
This golf fitness exercise not only increases shoulder mobility, but it can also double as a warm-up drill before any upper-body workout.

Here is how it is done

  • Lay on the floor (use a mat or carpeted flooring for more comfort), back of the head touching the floor, knees pulled up so your feet are flat on the floor.
  • Your arms should be 90-degrees to your body, elbows should be bent 90-degrees so your hands point over your head.
  • The top of your arms and hands should be flat on the floor.
  • If you can’t get your arms and back of your hands flat to the floor, stop the exercise here.  Continue to work this portion of the exercise until you can get the back of your hands flat to the floor.
  • Once you can reach that position, pull shoulder blades down and back. Drive arms overhead as if performing an overhead press while, dragging the forearms and back of hands on the floor.
  • Stretch as far as you can while keeping your head, butt, shoulder blades, and arms touching the floor, if any of them lift, stop there.
  • Exhale for five seconds when driving arms overhead so the exercise is slow, not a quick movement.
  • Repeat 8 to 10 times.

Below is a video of the exrcise.

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