CALL US TODAY (716) 221-0040

Preventing Golf Shoulder Pain: Causes & Solutions

Preventing Golf Shoulder Pain: Causes & Solutions


Golf is a sport cherished by many for its combination of skill, strategy, and outdoor enjoyment. However, the repetitive motion and the force involved in swinging a golf club can often lead to golf shoulder pain, a common ailment among enthusiasts of the game. Understanding the causes and implementing effective solutions can help golfers enjoy their favorite sport without discomfort.

In this article, we will explore the common causes of golf shoulder pain, as well as provide practical solutions and preventive measures to help golfers relieve and avoid golf injuries while playing.

What Causes Golf Shoulder Pain?

The causes of golf shoulder pain can be multifaceted, often stemming from the repetitive nature and the physical demands of the golf game. When golfers repeatedly swing their clubs, they exert considerable force through their shoulder joints. Studies found that shoulder pain in golfers is a common occurrence when compared to other areas of the body, accounting for around 8-18% of all golf injuries.

Overuse is a primary factor; the repetitive motion of swinging can lead to wear and tear on the shoulder muscles and tendons. This is particularly true for avid golfers who spend a lot of time on the course or at the driving range without adequate rest periods between sessions.

Improper technique amplifies the risk of golf injury. A golf swing that is not biomechanically sound can place uneven or excessive stress on certain parts of the shoulder. For example, an overly forceful swing or poor swing mechanics can increase the risk of rotator cuff injuries.

Equipment that doesn’t fit the golfer’s body also plays a significant role in the development of shoulder pain. Clubs that are too long, too short, too heavy, or too light can alter the natural swing mechanics, forcing the shoulder to compensate in unhealthy ways. This compensation can lead to increased stress on the shoulder joints and muscles, eventually causing pain and injury. It’s crucial for golfers to use clubs that are properly fitted to their physique and swing style, reducing unnecessary strain on their shoulders.

Shoulder Areas that Are Most at Risk During Golf

Rotator Cuff

This group of rotator cuff muscles and tendons stabilizes the shoulder and is crucial for the movement and power of the golf swing. Overuse or acute injury can lead to rotator cuff strains or tears, causing significant golf shoulder pain.


The cartilage in the shoulder joint helps it move smoothly. However, repetitive swinging can wear down this cartilage, leading to pain and stiffness.


The scapula, or shoulder blade, plays a key role in the golf swing. Misalignment or improper movement of the scapula can strain the shoulder, leading to discomfort and injuries in golf.

Common Injuries from Golf That Cause Shoulder Pain

Common Injuries from Golf That Cause Shoulder Pain

Rotator Cuff Tear

A tear in the rotator cuff can result from both acute injury and chronic wear, leading to severe pain and weakness in the shoulder, a condition often referred to as golfers’ shoulder. It is one of the common shoulder problems affecting golfers.

Shoulder Instability

Repeated golf swings can stretch the shoulder ligaments, leading to instability and dislocation, contributing to ongoing discomfort and vulnerability to golf shoulder injury.

Frozen Shoulder

Characterized by stiffness and pain in the shoulder joint, a frozen shoulder can develop from a lack of movement due to pain or injury from golf.

Subacromial Impingement

This occurs when the shoulder blade puts pressure on the underlying soft tissues during the arm lifting, causing pain during the golf swing.


A SLAP tear involves the ring of cartilage surrounding the shoulder socket and can severely affect a golfer’s ability to play.

How Golfers can Prevent Golf Shoulder Pain

Don’t Forget to Warm Up

A proper warm-up is essential for getting the body before golfing into an optimal state for play. It can increase blood flow to the muscles and prepare the shoulders for the range of motion required in golf, reducing the risk of injury.

Take a Break When Needed

Rest is crucial in preventing overuse injuries. Listening to your body and taking breaks can prevent the onset of shoulder pain from golf.

Be Sure to Use Proper Equipment

Using clubs that fit your body type and strength level can significantly reduce the strain on your shoulders.

Practice Proper Form and Technique

Proper form not only improves your game but also minimizes the risk of injury. Consider lessons from a professional to ensure your swing technique is not putting undue stress on your shoulders.

Consider Shoulder Strength Exercises

Strengthening the muscles around the shoulder can provide better support and reduce the likelihood of injury.

Treatment Solutions for Golf Shoulder Pain

Treatment Solutions for Golf Shoulder Pain

Avoid Playing Games

Taking a temporary break from golf can allow injuries to heal without further aggravation.

RICE Method

Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation can be effective for minor shoulder injuries, reducing inflammation and pain.

Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs)

For acute pain, anti-inflammatory medications can provide temporary relief, allowing golfers to participate in rehabilitation and recovery activities.

Physical Therapy

A tailored physical therapy program designed by a skilled physical therapist can help strengthen the shoulder, restore range of motion, and reduce pain. This can help golfers get back on the course more quickly.

If Shoulder Pain is Stopping You from Playing Golf, Consider Kendall Performance Therapy

For golfers struggling with persistent pain in the shoulder, Kendall Physical Therapy offers specialized treatment plans designed to address the unique demands of golfing on the body, helping golf professional players or amateur golfers return to their beloved sport with confidence and reduced risk of golf-related injuries.


In conclusion, golf shoulder pain can be a common issue among golfers, but it is not inevitable. By understanding the causes and implementing effective prevention and treatment strategies, golfers can reduce their risk of developing shoulder pain and maintain optimal shoulder health to support their game. 

Practicing proper swing mechanics, incorporating shoulder-strengthening exercises, and seeking professional guidance when needed can help golfers enjoy the game with an improved, comfortable golfing experience.


What helps shoulder pain from golf?

Preventative measures like warming up, practicing proper technique, and using the correct equipment, along with treatments like physical therapy and the RICE method, can significantly alleviate shoulder pain from golf.

Why does the back of my shoulder hurt when I play golf?

The back of the shoulder can hurt due to overuse injuries, poor technique, or conditions such as rotator cuff tears and subacromial impingement, commonly associated with golf.

Is golf bad for the rotator cuff?

Golf can put excess strain on the rotator cuff, especially with improper form or inadequate conditioning. However, with proper precautions and strengthening exercises, golfers can enjoy the game without damaging their rotator cuff.

dr kee with his arms crossed and the words dr kee.

Dr. Christopher Kendall PT

Kendall Performance PT

We help athletes and active adults move better, live pain-free, and get stronger to improve the health of our community and provide each client the knowledge to remain healthy and independent the rest of their lives.