Flexibility and Rotator Cuffs

By | on February 1, 2023 | 33 Comments | Array


Sorry, this content is for members only.

Click here to get access.


Already a member? Login below

Remember me (for 2 weeks)

Forgot Password


Author Description

Avatar photo

33 Responses to “Flexibility and Rotator Cuffs”

  1. November 8, 2012


    Good explanation of exactly how this exercise relates to the golf swing, which makes it much easier to put the time in. Two questions:

    1. Once you are able to do the reps/sets with 5lb weights relatively comfortably do you then go into a maintenance mode, maybe doing it once a week to make time for something else?

    2. Are you going to do an exercise for the other part of the rotator cuff (internal rotation) or is this not that important?

    • Hey Chad,
      Thanks for the questions…
      #1. Maintenance mode is great with this particular exercise. If you’re doing well and want to advance your shoulder workout I would stand up and do the same exercise with exercise tubing. We can also start to work the cuff with the elbow away from the body. Stay tuned for that…
      #2. It is important. It’s just that the internal rotators are typically stronger and the muscle imbalance usually starts with external rotation weakness. The subscapularis muscle (the internal rotator of the cuff) is large and it’s accessory muscles are the rather strong pectorals and latissimus dorsi. Doing the same exercise I showed in the video while standing with tubing connected to the wall will give you the opportunity to do both if you choose. I would do 3 sets external and 2 sets internal.
      Jeremy Klinkhamer, PT

  2. November 8, 2012



    I tried the exercise but was unable to move the arm to the straight up position that you were able to (guess I got it almost to 135 degrees). So do you have an exercise to increase the range of motion (no pain, just reach an earlier stopping point).


    • David,
      Good question. The video might make it look like my forearm is vertical but I can’t get the forearm “straight up” as you mentioned either without rolling my body backwards (which is not recommended). I would bet you’re doing it correctly. A few things to do to increase your external rotation: 1. Work on your posture… meaning, pull the shoulder blades closer together and make sure your mid-back isn’t rounded; 2. Increase your shoulder flexion (arms straight up in the air)… you can do that by laying on the ground or foam roller and stretch your arms overhead trying to reach your thumbs to the floor without bending your elbows. 3. Pec stretch… the simple way to do this is in a doorway with your hands/forearms on the frame of the doorway as you stretch your chest through the door.
      Jeremy Klinkhamer, PT

  3. Jeremy ,The sound was pretty poor on this “old “video !
    Nevertheless it’s easy to get what you want to convey ,this is only One if the exercises for the rotator cuffs ,I practice the External rotation ,the internal rotation ,as you show ,with light dumbells ,lying down ,but also with rubber tubings ,standing up .
    There’s an exersize ,lying on a stability ball ,with two light ‘2.5 lbs dumbells ,One in each hand ,where you stretch the rotators backwards .If your rotators are not flexible enough ,you have great diffuculties to get in a correct backswing position .
    Do you think exersizing with rubber tubing is better than with dumbells ?

  4. Jeremy ,Is the pec stretch important for a sourd golf swing ?

  5. I meant “Sound “of course :my IPAD Is terrible !

    • Hi Raymond,
      1. Pec stretch is very important… personally I think the foam roller exercise shown in a previous video is best (though there are many good ways to do it).
      2. I don’t have a general preference for the tubing vs. dumbbell exercises. As a general rule of mine for strengthening I will typically start with sidelying with a weight and progress to the tubing in standing because more stability is needed in the upright position.
      Jeremy Klinkhamer, PT

  6. Avatar photo

    March 5, 2014



    My shoulder rehab went very well at Carolina Ortho two years ago. They like yourself are true pros. I want to strengthen my cuff and will begin the exercises in this clip today. What exercises may injure the rotator cuff? I am a retired Marine so I enjoy doing push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups and lunges along with walking (Doc Dunaway said no running unless I liked giving him money!).

    • Hi Henry,
      Thanks for the compliment. You’ll need to be very careful with the pull-ups… if you’re doing pull ups with your palms facing away from you I would stop. Even if your palms are facing you, though less stress, I would be cautious. Bicep tendons tend to be weak with anyone dealing with rotator cuff issues and pull ups of any kind are very stressful to those tendons. The push-ups are also risky depending on your depth and angle… don’t go too deep and stay away from too much “incline” such as feet on the couch or ball. At the two year mark you may be strong enough to do those things but I certainly can’t make that determination from my desk here in San Diego… I would talk to your medical professionals about those activities. Furthermore, overhead would be something to limit. The big deal is your scapular area and posture are more important than ever. I know it sounds a bit “fluffy” but you would be doing yourself, like your neck and the other shoulder, a huge benefit if you become a master at that type of strengthening and awareness. The chest is great to strengthen, don’t get me wrong, but your upper back should be worked equally if not more… do yourself a favor and have a good therapist show you how to do some good work in that area and stick with it!
      Jeremy Klinkhamer, PT

      • Avatar photo

        March 5, 2014


        Thanks Jeremy. I will stop the pull-ups, be careful with the push-ups and limit the overhead. On the Carolina Ortho site are exercises to strengthen the scapular area/upper back and to enhance the posture. I appreciate your guidance and will follow it by incorporating the proper mix of exercises to target the appropriate areas. It will be good to visit my therapist and get her to show me how to do good work in the right area. She is cute but mean enough that I’ll stick with whatever she says!

  7. Good explanation about the rotator cuff and the importance of proper exercising to help prevent injuries. However, I was surprised to hear your explanation – especially on the Paul Wilson site – that a main reason for golfing,cuff injuries is because “on the lead side we pull the lead arm into the impact position”.

    When working on a “powerless arms” swing, I am happiest when I feel zero “pulling” from me and just let the centrifugal force do its job.

    • Hi Jerry! Thanks for the comment. Good point by the way… I should have done a better job with how I explained the lead side work load (I just watched the video again after I saw your comment). I think a better way of stating what I meant was “there is a ‘pull stress’ placed on the outside of the lead arm” as we transition into the downswing and again as the club hits the ball and creates a divot in our impact zone. When the body starts to change directions to the downswing but the club keeps going into it’s backswing there is a moment of eccentric ‘pull stress’ on the lead shoulder (if we didn’t have shoulder muscles the shoulder joint would dislocate at that moment); the same happens once again when the club strikes either the ball or the ground. I’m a huge fan of “powerless” arms and I think centrifugal force, as you mention, is the most effective way to put your energy into a club. Thanks for catching me… I appreciate the attention to detail!
      Jeremy Klinkhamer, PT

  8. March 29, 2015


    Hi Jeremy, I can do this exercise fine. My pain is actually on the backside of my right shoulder. I use to hit the ball very hard using my arms only for a couple of years. Being self-taught I didn’t know any better. Used to hit 300 yards shoulders only. No control, but could hit it. Can’t now of course. Which is why I am relearning my swing.

    The back side of the cuff is always a little tender, and my shoulder actually pops when I rotate a straight arm, but I have no mobility issues.

    Any idea on the type of damage I may have done? Its been like this for about 2 of the three years I have been golfing.



  9. March 29, 2015


    BTW – I am a Right Handed Golfer

    • Hi Allen,
      Thanks for the question. It’s good to hear your shoulder seems fine with this exercise (unless I’m misunderstanding you). As for the tenderness located on the posterior right shoulder… such things as calcium deposits, AC joint irritation and posterior labrum tear quickly come to mind as possible causes. Seeing a medical professional, ie orthopedic physician would be a good idea. Some minor “popping and grinding” can be a common result of age but significant pain or popping that hurts or makes the shoulder feel “vulnerable” is not something to ignore. Issues with the cervical spine can also cause referred pain into the posterior shoulder area. Sorry I can’t be more specific, but please consult a medical professional in your area for further diagnostics. Keep up the work that Paul suggests with the swing. I’m sure it will do wonders for your game and your body!
      Jeremy Klinkhamer, PT

  10. September 17, 2015


    Jeremy, I have noticed that I get a popping sound in that shoulder & have some pain on a full follow through sometimes along with popping.
    Is this a problem that needs to be addressed by a doctor or just this exercise?
    I get NO pain when doing this exercise.
    I am 66 years old so that might be part of it.

    • Avatar photo

      September 17, 2015

      Jeremy Klinkhamer

      Hi Louis,
      Sorry to hear you’re dealing with this. Popping associated with pain is NOT normal and needs to be addressed by an orthopedic physician for testing. You need to rule out things like AC joint problems, labral tears, rotator cuff tears, etc. Some popping without pain is pretty standard especially with age, but because you have pain I can’t let you ignore that. Please investigate properly. Pain-free activity, such as this exercise, is fine to continue but see your physician to get tested for your shoulder symptoms asap. Best case scenario is that the MD is able to identify the issue with simple diagnostics and get you to therapy for conservative treatment and you can get back to full activity! Please keep me updated.
      Jeremy Klinkhamer, PT

  11. September 18, 2015


    I feel some pain with the left shoulder external rotator when doing this exercise.
    I believe it handicaps me for doing a complete follow through ,and I “brake ” subconsciously the movement ,costing me distance .I found this out when letting go of the right hand at the end of the swing ,the club moves violently to the finish and it does hurt .
    What should I do?

    • Avatar photo

      September 18, 2015

      Jeremy Klinkhamer

      Hi Raymond,
      Stop the exercise or find a modification that is pain-free. As I mention in the video, I don’t want you to have any pain during this exercise. Only add a small amount of weight to the exercise if you’re able to successfully find a pain-free range of motion without weight. Introducing weight should also be pain-free. If successful, just be patient and see if your range of motion and weight can increase over time – it could lead to a much better golf swing follow-through for you if done correctly. If there is pain present and you can’t find a pain-free option please stop and consult a medical professional to evaluate your shoulder. If you’re having pain with this exercise and also having pain at the finish of your golf swing you should address it properly. I don’t want to guess from a distance what the issue is… it requires a proper assessment.
      Jeremy Klinkhamer, PT

  12. February 28, 2019


    In December of 2012 I had a reverse left shoulder replacement. They replaced the “ball” but left the socket. I had a frozen shoulder for about 25 years. They also repaired a torn bicep and a torn rotator cuff. When I try the external rotator cuff exercise I don’t get pain but I have tightness. I can get just short of 45 degrees. If I keep doing the exercise will I gain some range of motion? I don’t know if this is related to the rotator cuff or not but sometimes I get some pain when extending or raising my left arm. Not all the time though. During golf I will get some pain as the round goes on. My left bicep was attached to the top of my left arm so maybe that’s the culprit.

    • Hi Jim,
      You may gain some motion but the surgery is quite limiting. Especially since the bicep and cuff are were also involved and repaired. Most patients with that surgery get the arm capable of shoulder height and have to use the elbow bend to get the rest of the way up. I say keep trying to gain motion if it’s pain free. You may get some even though it’s been since 2012. Stay strong and flexible!
      Jeremy Klinkhamer, PT

      • February 28, 2019


        Thanks. I can get the arm straight up above my shoulder, it’s just tight. I’ll work on the range of motion.

  13. October 30, 2019


    Thanks Jeremy…I will try this and comment later. Looks like a reasonable movement. I currently have pain the day/evening following hitting 150-200 range balls but it goes away that next day or two. Rick

    • Sounds like that could be delayed onset muscles soreness from that many balls. Is there something specific going on? Where are you feeling this soreness you mention?

  14. October 31, 2019


    On top and slightly in front. I tried your technique and so far only a little fatigue in the shoulder, but no pain, just a bit stiff getting to full move. Feels like the stiffness might go away over time. I try to hit 150-200 balls weekly plus some pitch shots too. Still play to between an 8-12 hcp at age 71 from either blue or white as total yardage might dictate and frequency allows. I really liked that rotator exercise. Many thanks!! Rick ⛳️⛳️⛳️

  15. September 23, 2020


    Thanks Jeremy,
    I like your comments, they are short, concise and to the point. Sometimes (often) Paul’s videos are too long and he repeats himself a lot. I don’t want to watch a 10-12 minute video.

  16. September 23, 2020


    Jeremy, thank you very much for this particular video; they’ll all good but this one really hit home….I’ve had rotator cuff surgery on both shoulders, so I try to be very cautious about putting any on due stress on the shoulders, obviously. The exercises that you demonstrate here are excellent, and I’ll be incorporating them in my golf fitness routine immediately! Thx again for the clear and concise manner that you present your videos in——very easy to follow! Thx again!

You must be logged in to post a comment.