Forging Better 'Blades'

March 14, 2012

The scapulae (shoulder blades) play an important role in swinging correctly. They provide stability for the arms and body to work together. They also give the arms and shoulders mobility to swing the club on plane. This relationship is called scapulohumeral rhythm.

"They are key to creating good motion, but that's only if the scapulae are sitting properly on your thorax," says PGA Tour trainer Ben Shear, whose clients include Luke Donald, Jason Day and Webb Simpson.

If the triangular-shaped bones of your upper back are unstable or tilted forward, it will be difficult to make a good swing, Shear says. Two common consequences are too steep a backswing and/or the "chicken wing," when the lead arm collapses through impact. Both swing flaws can be corrected through better posture. To determine if your scapulae are sitting properly on your thorax (think rib cage), remove your shirt, stand straight and relaxed and look at your shoulder blades in a mirror. If they are noticeably pushing the skin up, particularly at the bottom corner of the blades, there's a good chance at least one is unstable. This can also be spotted at address if your spine curves toward the ball, which is known as "C" posture.

If you have scapular issues, Shear says the strength-training exercises shown here will help considerably.



__Q: Is it good to sit on a fitness ball at work, rather than a chair?

— @Todjones

A: __Stick to the chair. A study shows physio-ball sitting lacks lumbar support and offers only minor improvement in muscle activation vs. a chair.

__Q: How about those perfect push-up blocks?

— @laplante5

A: __Keeping your wrists straight while doing push-ups is a lot less stressful. But you don't need to spend $20 or more on a product to do that.