How To Check Your Joint Range of Motion

It is important in a good golf swing to be able to move with freedom and speed. Having a body that is capable of this type of movement means that more power can be generated and a more consistent and reliable swing can be created. One important part of having a free and powerful golf swing is to make sure that your body has normal range of motion in its joints. Range of motion is how far you can move individual joints in different directions and it is important that your movement is in the normal range for each joint. If your range of motion is not in the normal range you need to stretch the particular joint to increase the movement. This will move you back into the normal range and, as well as making it easier for you to swing, will decrease the likelihood of you being injured.
As I have mentioned in previous blog posts the best way to determine if your joint range of motion is an issue is to go and visit a golf specific physiotherapist or trainer and have them assess your body and design a training program for you. I also understand that sometimes this is not possible for a number of reasons. One reason that I faced as a coach was when I was coaching in China. Golf is a relatively new sport in China and with the language barriers I faced and the lack of golf specific specialists I did my own research and designed my own evaluation and stretching program. Below is a video of one of my Chinese students completing all of the range of motion tests that I was using when coaching there. As you can see there are a number of tests and I will explain some of the tests that I feel are most important below.

Spinal Rotation Test:
As a golfer if you have restricted movement in your spine you will find it difficult to make an effective golf swing. Lack of flexibility in this area may result in incorrect or reduced rotation as well as making it difficult to swing with an effective swing path.
The Test:
Lie on your back with your knees in the air. Slowly lower your legs to one side. If you have normal range of motion in your spine you should be able to lay your legs on the ground while keeping your opposite shoulder on the ground. Repeat on the opposite side.

Stretches to Improve Your Range of Motion:
Trunk rotation stretch
Apley Scratch Test:
This test is to assess if you have adequate range of motion in your shoulders. This test will assess both internal and external rotation of the shoulder joint. Tightness in these joints can have an influence on your backswing and follow through as well as making it difficult to swing on plane.
The Test:
Reach over your shoulder and attempt to touch the top inside corner of your opposite shoulder blade. Then reach behind your back and attempt to touch the lower part of your opposite shoulder blade. The first test measures your external rotation while the second test measures your internal rotation. The further you are from your shoulder blade the less range of motion you have.

Stretches to Improve Your Range of Motion:
Medial shoulder rotator stretch
Lateral shoulder rotator stretch
Arm Raise Test:
This test is used to measure two common issues in golfers, tight latissimus dorsi muscles and a tight thoracic spine. Problems in this area will also make it difficult to complete an effective back swing and follow through and may result in swing plane compensations.
The Test:
Stand with your heels approximately one foot from a wall with your butt, back and head touching the wall. Have a partner check the amount of lower back curve you have and then raise your arms in the air. You should be able to move your arms back towards the wall while keeping the same amount of lower back curve. If you can’t do this, chances are you have tight latissimus dorsi muscles. If you are unable to keep your head against the wall whilst completing this test there is a chance you have thoracic spine tightness.

Stretches to Improve Your Range of Motion:
Latissimus dorsi stretch
Foam roller mobilization
(Note: if you test positive for tightness in the lower spine, please see your doctor to check for spinal arthritis before starting any stretching exercises. Mobilization exercises with spinal arthritis may result in fracture of the spine and serious injury and pain.)
These tests and exercises would be a good start for all golfers as it is important to understand that even if you have normal range of motion in your joints now, it would be wise to develop a stretching program to maintain your flexibility levels. Good flexibility will assist you in making a good golf swing as well as reduce the likelihood of injury from playing golf.

Until next time,

Links for stretches

Trunk rotation stretch:

Medial shoulder rotator stretch: internal:


Lateral shoulder rotator stretch:

Latissimus dorsi stretch:

Brent Davis

Brent Davis

PGA Professional

Training & Education Coordinator
PGA Centre For Learning Performance
Melborne, Victoria, Australia



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