Over 50 Golfer? Golf Flexibility to Correct the Common Flying Right Elbow

You can see from this perspective that it will be very difficult to re-route the club to attack the ball on the correct plan.

You can see from this perspective that it will be very difficult to re-route the club to attack the ball on the correct plan.

SOLUTION 7 in our golf article series addressing swing faults found in our free EBOOK: Swing Evaluation for Golfers Over 50

At the apex of your back swing, the trail elbow needs to be pointing downwards  so that your trail fore-arm is in line with your torso, instead of an elbow like a baseball players, otherwise known as a chicken wing position. We see this most often in golfers over 50 due to increasing stiffness in their right shoulder.

The right elbow is chicken winged and is out of alignment. Killing any chance at a good swing.

The right elbow is chicken winged and is out of alignment. Killing any chance at a good swing.

Here is the correct forearm alignment with the elbow pointing to the ground:

Notice that the forearm is no aligned with the body at the top of the backswing.

Notice that the forearm is no aligned with the body at the top of the backswing.

Examine Your Shoulder

With more senior golfers, full shoulder external range of motion is commonly limited. To achieve the “perfect” position, you need 90 degrees of external rotation.  However, even if full motion is out of reach, the closer you can get to it the easier it will be to swing on plane and eliminate the steep, pulling/slicing swing caused by a flying back elbow.

You can test yourself by standing with your back against a wall. Extend your arms straight out to the side along the wall like a cross.

From this position, can you bend your elbows, making a 90 degree angle at the elbow while keeping your elbows AND wrist touching the wall?  If you are able to attain this position WITHOUT arching your back, you have full motion.  If not, keep reading because we can help!!

In this position with your back and bottom touching the wall, can you touch the wall with both elbows and wrists at the same time?

In this position with your back and bottom touching the wall, can you touch the wall with both elbows and wrists at the same time?

Fitness Fixes

Here is a golf stretch that will fix your swing fault:

Sit next to a table/counter and place your forearm on the surface PARALLEL TO YOUR BODY. Bend forward at the hips until you feel a strong stretch in your shoulder. Hold for 30 seconds...repeat often.

Sit next to a table/counter and place your forearm on the surface PARALLEL TO YOUR BODY. Bend forward at the hips until you feel a strong stretch in your shoulder. Hold for 30 seconds…repeat often.

Check out this short instructional video

Pro Fixes

From a pure mechanics perspective, the best way to fix a flying right elbow is to:

1. Take your normal backswing and stop at the top of the backswing

2. Point your right elbow down straight down to the ground

3. To help you feel the correct position, you can tuck a rolled or folded hand towel under your right armpit. If your right elbow is flying out, the towel will fall at the top of your backswing. Try to keep the towel in place. The towel SHOULD fall out on your follow through swing.

Here is a picture of Tiger in ideal backswing position. Notice the right elbow is pointing to the ground.

Tucked right elbow improves golf swing plane and adds effortless golf power

Tucked right elbow improves golf swing plane and adds effortless golf power

Training Aid Fixes

There are many  training aids that will help you correct this deficit. However, one in particular will help you correct the problem much, much faster than the others. Lets start with the ones that are not my favorite.

The training aids that I DO NOT LIKE are ones that STRAP your forearms or upper arms together. I have found them to be less effective because golfers tend to train the wrong muscles in response to the force placed on them by the training device.

The Impact Ball

The best training aid I have used to correct a flying elbow is the Impact Ball.

You place the ball in between your forearms and have to use the correct muscles to hold it in place during your swing. It is simple and easy to use. 

In addition, I have played a round with rolled up towels, squish balls, and dog toys (true story) to find a cheaper way to fix the issue.  But all of these have been frustrating to use.  The Impact Ball is form fitted and will safe you a lot of stress!!

seniors golf traing aid

 

Thanks for reading!!

Dr. Ryan York, DPT CGS
Doctor of PHysical Therapy
Licensed Golf Performance Specialist

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One Response to Over 50 Golfer? Golf Flexibility to Correct the Common Flying Right Elbow

  1. CINDY WALKER July 28, 2016 at 3:08 am #

    i have found exactly what you have found using the straps that do the work vs the impact ball where the player does the changing of the motor pattern. nice to know my findings are verified by dr. of physical exercise.

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