Archery and Shoulder Ills

Archers tend to collect shoulder problems as we engage the shoulder joints on both sides under somewhat heavy loads and the shoulder joint is one of the weakest in our bodies. I just read the following, take it for what it is worth:

“One out of three patients over 60, who got rotator cuff surgery, did not heal. (Orthopaedics & Traumatology: Surgery & Research, 2012)

“Even after surgery and six weeks spent walking around in an immobilizer, these people still didn’t heal.

“Furthermore, 8% experienced complications …”

The implications for older archers is that surgery on a rotator cuff is not a high probability fix. One of the greatest compound archers in the history of the U.S., Dean Pridgen, has had rotator cuff surgery on both shoulders. I talked to him after the first and he was having a rough time getting back to anything after that procedure. I haven’t talked to him after the second.


Filed under For All Coaches

5 responses to “Archery and Shoulder Ills

  1. Chris Noble

    Thanks Steve, read with interest. Are you saying it inevitable that archers will develop shoulder problems? What can we do (and how can we advise archers) to minimise the risk?


    • Not inevitable, but prevention is something we should be focusing on. Shoulders can be strengthened and good form is needed. Shooting with a hunched bow shoulder, for example, is asking for trouble. Ignoring shoulder pain and soldiering on is a bad idea. Good archery form aligns the shoulders properly and asks little from rotator cuss muscles (the tiny muscles that surround the shoulder joint to stabilize it when out of alignment).


  2. kmartin

    There are a ton of videos on YouTube about exercises for archery to strengthen the shoulder. Here is nice video by Jake Kaminski and his wife.

    Kaminski has had a lot of shoulder problems. He did a smart thing and married a massage therapist.


  3. George

    Steve: I am 60 years old now with two plates in my neck so my ability to turn toward the bow hand is rather curtailed. However my recent engaging in the Feldenkrais method of somatic “lessons” as well as the “Alexander method” has done wonders for my woes. I have gained at least 5 degrees of arc and an inch to my draw length thus far. I discovered Feldenkrais with Alfons on the Internet and have followed his routines for the last few weeks with good improvement in upper body organization. I would recomend anyone with issues in their body to look into this.


    • Good recommendation! at Archery Focus, we have reviewed books on similar topics and even got one expert to share some of his teachings. There are ways to loosen up shoulders, relax “knots”, and gain flexibility but surgeons make their living slicing and dicing.


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