Golfing With a Rotator Cuff Injury

Can golf cause rotator cuff injuries? In this blog, we'll discuss what a golf injury to the shoulder means and golf shoulder exercises to combat any pain or potential injuries. Whether you're 40+ or facing golf-related shoulder issues, we'll share solutions to keep you on the course.
Golf Swing
December 15, 2023

As with any sport, many golfers experience or develop injuries. A rather common golf injury, especially in individuals 40+ years of age, is an injury to the rotator cuff in the shoulder. In this blog, we will discuss whether it’s safe to continue playing golf, how to reduce stress and strain on the shoulder within the golf swing, and even examine ways to reduce or eliminate golf shoulder injuries and pain.

What is the Rotator Cuff?

The rotator cuff is made up of 4 different muscles that surround the shoulder joint. These muscles simultaneously help rotate and stabilize the shoulder during active movements, such as swinging a golf club. Any dysfunction within any of the four muscles can lead to shoulder pain, muscle weakness and even cause impairments with range of motion.

Common Golf Rotator Cuff Injuries

Various injuries can occur within the rotator cuff. These include but are not limited to: rotator cuff tears, tendonitis, tendinopathy, and impingement syndrome. These injuries can be caused by a traumatic event or be due to wear and tear over time. As with any injury, you should seek out a medical professional to determine a diagnosis and the extent of your injury.

Can You Play Golf With a Rotator Cuff Injury?

As mentioned above, determining whether or not you can continue golfing with a rotator cuff injury will come down to the severity of your diagnosis. It is recommended to discuss this topic with a healthcare professional to ensure safety and reduce the risk of worsening your injury. 

With that being said, in many cases, it is safe to continue playing golf with a rotator cuff injury. 

What Should You Do to Decrease Shoulder Pain?

After being cleared by a medical professional, there are many golf shoulder exercises and drills that can and should be performed to improve function and reduce pain. Working with a physical therapist with knowledge of the mechanics of the golf swing is a good place to start. A physical therapist can treat specific shoulder injuries with precision due to their background in anatomy and biomechanics.

There might be other causes of a golf shoulder injury. For example, suppose a golfer has a tight hip and cannot rotate through that hip fully. This may cause them to overcompensate with their shoulder(s), causing excessive stress and strain in the shoulder joint and surrounding musculature. In this case, it is important to address the hip mobility impairment since it is the “cause” of the shoulder injury and examine the shoulder joint itself.


Many golfers deal with pain, however this does not mean this should keep you from playing golf. If you or someone you know is dealing with pain during golf (in the Kansas City area), click HERE to schedule your FREE strategy call with RobertsPT, a Golf Physical Therapy and Performance Center, and get back to playing pain-free golf.

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