One of the reasons why some people are
hesitant to get into sports is because of injury. A lot of sports, contact and
non-contact, do carry a risk of injury, and that’s part of sports. Training and
recovery involves a lot of management to ensure that the athlete’s body is in
good condition and that they can perform and minimize the risk of injury. Archery is appealing because it’s not
one of the sports that get you injured. It carries a label as being one of the safer
sports, and in a supervised environment there’s practically no risk to anybody else.
At worst, your injuries may include a string slap or sore fingers. Yes, there’s the
occasional photo of someone piercing their hand with an arrow, but those are very
rare, and they can be easily avoided. What I’m going to focus on in this video is
probably the most common injury that an archer may experience, especially if you’re new.
This is still a very uncommon injury, especially if you’ve been trained, but it
can happen if you’re doing something wrong. This injury happens in the shoulders,
especially the rotator cuff. Some people report pains in the drawing shoulder, while
it can happen in the bow shoulder as well depending what the cause is. You can recognize symptoms of shoulder
injury by persistent obvious pain. I’m not talking about feeling sore from
doing a shooting session. That’s quite normal, especially if you haven’t worked out
your archery muscles. I’m talking about a consistent pain that can be felt
throughout the day and night. Given the limited motion involved in archery,
this is pretty much the only injury that really happens, and with proper training
it practically never happens. Instead this is more likely if you’re
shooting with incorrect form. I want to demonstrate the drawing technique without
looking too indecent. There are some variations of drawing technique depending on
how you train, but all of them engage the same specific muscle groups. Basically, what
you’re doing is squeezing your shoulder blades together, and that engages the back muscles.
You really feel that pressure on your rhomboids which are around here.
So when you set the scapula correctly, you feel that back muscle engage. This
particular muscle group is what you’re feeling most of the weight on. The other thing to
keep in mind is that you want to keep the push-pull forces equals. So, you
don’t want to push too hard with one arm or draw too hard with one arm. You want to keep it
equal during the shot sequence. First I’ll do a front demonstration. What I’m looking for
in a draw from this angle is this movement. I start with my arm slightly raised.
The elbow high, and i’m going to rotate my drawing shoulder. So, I’m going to come in
like this. I’m going to set my scapula around here. See that that movement?
The scapular is set..there, and then I lock my anchor in and transfer the weight onto my
rhomboids. So, it’s not a straight motion where I go from here to here then let
go, but rather I’m coming in, I’m setting my shoulder in like this, and then I’m
setting the holding weight on my rhomboids. So I can feel it without holding the bow.
I can feel that my back is engaged around here. So, let’s do it with the
bow. This is my usual 40 pound bow, I’m going to do exactly what I just said with the bow. I raise the bow, starting high, nose high.
I come in, set, and then holding position. OK! Next we’ll go to the back view.
Again, watch the placement of the scapula and the pressure on the rhomboids.
I’m using the bow. I’m going to shoot
[away from camera] so you can see a good view of my drawing shoulder.
I raise the bow and do the the shot. I’ll do it again. Set postion. and again… If you do this correctly, you feel the
tension in your back. You start feeling a little sore around… here during the
shooting session, and that’s fine. That’s normal. That’s the good sort of pain. Keep on
doing that, and you’ll be working up your archery muscles. However, if you feel the pain somewhere
else then you may be doing something wrong. If you’re feeling pain in your front shoulder, this may be due to too much push.
This may be due to forcing your shoulder or arm too far forward trying to get the bow
to full draw. So, instead of doing the correct draw where everything is balanced, you may be
drawing and then pushing too far forward. Now, you feel that tension if you do this
the incorrect way. If you put too much tension in your arm, you feel it in a lot of
places. You feel it in your shoulder, you feel it in your hand especially, and you may
feel it in your elbow joint. It’s also a problem when you’re using a clicker because
some people may need to get through the extra centimeter on the clicker. So they
might try to squeeze through by pushing just…that bit further to get that last
centimeter. Another cause is improper alignment. You may find that your
shoulder is turned too far around your body. You’re popping out like this.
So rather than having that bone-on-bone straightness, you’re having your shoulder
popped out, and it’s putting extra tension on the shoulder muscles like
this. This can also happen if you have a habit of leaning backwards.
So, again, instead of having that bone-on-bone alignment through your arm,
through your shoulder, through your back, you’re putting tension on the wrong muscles.
So, your shoulder’s popping out, and that extra tension is placed…there.
If we take a look at the drawing shoulder, you may feel pain around here. Now this
often isn’t a good sign either. I find this is often caused by the archer not
stretching out enough or otherwise not having the correct back muscle engagement.
So rather than setting your scapula correctly and setting the weight on the back muscle here,
the archer is still essentially pulling. This is a common form fault.
You have to transfer from the draw to the holding position, and some
people, especially when they first learn, they skip that. They go straight from here to here, and
they’re still pulling. I’ll show you using the stretching band. The motion I see that
indicates form fault is this: You pull and then basically they keep on
pulling. There’s no back tension. They are continuing the draw. Now, this is a huge problem because, again,
you lose that bone-on-bone connection. So rather than have everything perfectly aligned,
you have this arm sticking out, and it’s still there. So if I turn around for the
back view, you can see that as I’n shooting from a compressed position, rather than
engaging my back muscles, I’m doing this. I’m going eeaaah, and we see
here I’m still pulling with this arm. So all the pressure is here and here.
Basically your body isn’t working efficiently. It’s fighting against the
bow. It’s fighting against itself. You especially feel it when you try to expand,
and instead of the shoulder blades coming together like it should be,
your drawing motion becomes unbalanced on one side. These are generally seen as form
faults, and with the correct training and practice you can fix these faults.
It’s normal to feel sore, even in the shoulders if you had a bad day, and you’re not
shooting with the perfect correct form. That’s normal.
That’s the way your body gives you feedback. There’s the right sort of pain which is
mostly focused on the upper back and the rhomboids, and then there’s the sharper
pain which you might feel in your shoulders, and that’s an indication that you may be
doing something wrong. Now, this sort of thing usually wont
cause injury unless it’s a chronic problem, and you’ve been doing it for a long time. However, there is something that really
makes it an immediate problem: Draw weight. Now, I admit I’m a little strict on people who start on a
higher draw weight. I’m talking about over 40 pounds. For a first bow, especially, and
the reason is because the higher amount of stress involved on your body.
If you’re not shooting with correct form, and you’re making mistakes in your shot process
like the ones I mentioned before, you’re far more likely to cause damage to your
shoulders. Even compound shooters face the same problem. Even though you
might have a higher let-off, you are still pulling 50-60 pounds, and it’s the
same motion. So if you’re a small person, especially, and I’m a small guy, but if
you’re smaller than me and not well-built, keep in mind that drawing a 60-pound bow
is going to take a lot out of you. Combine that with the wrong technique and
you may seriously cause muscle damage that can put you out of archery.
I really want to reinforce the notion of picking a reasonable draw weight.
From a coaching point of view, it’s really hard to teach someone to break habits and use
good technique if they can’t control their bow, if they can’t control their draw weight.
If the draw weight is too high, this what we call “over bowing” There’s never a situation, in my opinion, where
you should get a high-powered bow to *learn* with. This is why we suggest people start low.
It’s easier to correct form faults, and it’s easier on the body,
and over time the archer will develop the strength and technique so that they
can progress to a heavier bow. This also means that you may be buying
multiple bows! You may have to get different limbs or a different bow entirely.
This is normal. This is the way archers progress through their equipment.
Try to get out of your mind that you’re buying one bow for life. That one single
definitive purchase. No. If you want to take archery seriously, and you want to grow
from being this weak, noodle-armed stick figure to having the right muscles for archery, you will have to buy different
equipment as you progress. If you just go “oh I want to go hunting, I need a 50-pound bow!”
and you buy that straightaway with no training and no strength and no stamina
and no technique, then you are going to risk serious injury! It’s just like lifting weights.
You can’t start too high too soon or you will hurt yourself. A lot of people
(I notice field archers tend to do this) will push that you go for the higher poundage and
that you can “get used to it” within a few months,. Yes, you can, but on the
other side of the spectrum I’m erring on the side of caution because I know
from experience most adults can’t handle that high weight. I’d much rather see someone
start low and learn to shoot safely and enjoy the experience, than to see someone
fight against their own bow and risk injury. It’s fairly common to see someone with a
55-pound bow, recurve or compound, doing this. They’re trying SO hard to
pull the bow back and they can’t. Even the recurve hunters…. That’s as far as they can go.
They’ll tell that person to stop shooting immediately! Because it’s going to cause injury.
They’ll tell you to drop the bow and pick up a lighter 18-20 pound club bow,
and, look, it doesn’t matter if it hurts your ego. We’re not
going to let someone tear their own muscles shooting an overpowered bow for
absolutely no reason. To sum up, there are a couple of things you need to
do to avoid shoulder injuries: Firstly, make sure you are using a draw
weight you can reasonably handle. Secondly, make sure your form is correct.
Too much tension on the shoulder or the wrong alignment can lead to having too much
stress on the wrong muscle groups and causing muscle tears.
If you do feel chronic pain, consult your physio/doctor. It’s not a normal part of archery.
It’s NOT a normal part of archery. You may have an injury. It’s much better to do it
right and avoid hurting yourself than going down the long road of rehabilitation. Anyway, this is NUSensei.
I hope you found this helpful. Thanks for watching,
and I’ll see you next time.