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if you aren't a reader then this post isn't for you. this is going to get a little lengthy and technical but i do want to share my point of view and why i think a high elbow draw is a horrible idea. it makes me cringe a little bit when i see someone doing it. and i'm not bashing anyone for doing it i simply want to inform, so if you draw this way it is not a personal attack, if it works for you that's great! i just see the potential for a bad outcome for the general archery population.

the shoulder is extremely complex and there are a lot of moving parts, most of the moving parts are very small joint motions that are extremely important. so here is a basic anatomy lay out of the shoulder. the shoulder girdle is comprised of: the scapula (shoulder blade), the clavicle (collar bone), and the humerus (arm bone). each individual bone has to move a certain way when you move your shoulder. for example, when you raise your arm up to do a high elbow draw: the scapula has to upwardly rotate, depress, and tilt posteriorly. the clavicle has to spin posteriorly, as a whole it elevates, the medial portion glides inferiorly, and the lateral portion glides superiorly. the humerus has to depress, and rotate internally.

all of those things are happening for one reason: to keep the subacromial space open. that subacromial space will stay open if all of the components of the shoulder move as they are designed to. however, most people's shoulders don't move as they should which leads to one of two things (if not both): compensation or impingement. impingement occurs when that subacromial space is not maintained. impingement can affect your supraspinatus (rotator cuff), bursa, or long head of the biceps. impingement most often happens with repetitive overhead movement, i.e. high elbow draw. if it goes without correction it will likely lead to a tear in your rotator cuff.

the rotator cuff is a group of four muscles that, as a whole, act together to keep the head of the humerus in the glenoid fossa, during overhead movements it keeps the humeral head depressed to avoid impingement. individually each muscle performs a specific action. half of the rotator cuff pulls the shoulder into external rotation. high elbow draw starts the shoulder in a near maximal internally rotated position, this places half of the rotator cuff at a mechanical disadvantage to keep the humeral head from shifting upwards impinging the supraspinatus against the acromion or the AC ligament. in the same way the long head of the biceps is prone to becoming impinged by the greater tubercle and the acromion.

lets put this into action. stand up, raise your arm to the side with your thumb pointed all the way down and try to raise it over your head. it will only go so far or it will hurt. now, point your thumb to the ceiling and do the same thing. you are able to go through the full range of motion comfortable.

a high elbow draw will work just fine IF your scapula starts in the correct position, MOST people do not have proper positioning of their scapula, typically they are protracted. the medial border of the scapula should be about three finger widths from the spine, with most people you can fit your whole hand between their shoulder blade and spine. for the high elbow draw your rotator cuff, scapular muscles, and long head of the biceps must fire in the proper sequence, again this is not commonly found in the general population largely in part to poor scapular positioning. the clavicle must move how it should when you raise your arm up, yep you guessed it, doesn't happen often in the general population due to a protracted scapula. what causes a poor starting position of the scapula? one major cause is a tight pec minor likely attributed to poor posture. there are veeerryy few people who maintain good posture through out the day.

applying that same concept to archery, in my opinion, it is so much healthier for the shoulder if you draw with a neutral elbow. when i draw, my elbow is at shoulder level. for me that is comfortable.

where to start? a good place to start is stretching your pec muscles. before doing so consult with your PCP.

sorry for the lengthy read i just wanted to edu and have reasons why i don't think it is a good idea. feel free to message me if you have questions or want to talk, i love archery and shoulder rehab!
 

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Shootin and Cussin
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Are you a physician? Lol


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Exactly what I was thinking.

OP, while I agree with most of what you are saying it would be nice to know your background. Also, this is very close to being what is published in USA Archery material.
 
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Great explanation! (I'm In PTA school). I like to explain to people that the shoulder joint is like a golf ball (humerus) on a tee (scapula). Make sure you take care of all of your rotator cuff musculatures so that it holds down tight to the "tee". I draw my bow in more of an arch than a linear-pull to engage as many muscles as possible.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Are you a physician? Lol


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Exactly what I was thinking.

OP, while I agree with most of what you are saying it would be nice to know your background. Also, this is very close to being what is published in USA Archery material.
i'm a physical therapist assistant. i work in an outpatient clinic, in my particular section of the clinic we get most (if not all) of the shoulder patients. Half or so of the shoulder patients are rotator cuff repair patients. it's a tough rehab, long and lengthy, easy to mess up because the shoulder is so complex, highly mobile, highly unstable
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Great explanation! (I'm In PTA school). I like to explain to people that the shoulder joint is like a golf ball (humerus) on a tee (scapula). Make sure you take care of all of your rotator cuff musculatures so that it holds down tight to the "tee". I draw my bow in more of an arch than a linear-pull to engage as many muscles as possible.
exactly! turn that tee sideways and expect the ball not to fall off. the rotator cuff holds it there, that is why it is so dang important!
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Exactly what I was thinking.

OP, while I agree with most of what you are saying it would be nice to know your background. Also, this is very close to being what is published in USA Archery material.
could you send me a link to that? i would be interested in reading it
 

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:coffee: looking into this (tag)
 

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I think your pontificating personally. I've seen archery form go from High elbow, medium, low, front arm this way, front arm that way over the years. Everybody's body is just different.
 

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I think your pontificating personally. I've seen archery form go from High elbow, medium, low, front arm this way, front arm that way over the years. Everybody's body is just different.
Actually he is not. He is talking the hi falutin medical lingo, that the release elbow swinging up over your head, has the potential to do nasty things to your shoulder joint. Potential...not absolute you will destroy your shoulder. Any time you swing your elbow over your head, you MIGHT do damage to your shoulder "joint".
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I think your pontificating personally. I've seen archery form go from High elbow, medium, low, front arm this way, front arm that way over the years. Everybody's body is just different.
yes everyone's body is different but this is just how the shoulder works. if it doesn't move the way it is supposed to and you do repetitive overhead movements then chances are you will have shoulder injuries. i work with shoulders daily. people don't have shoulder problems until they start having shoulder problems.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
I think your pontificating personally. I've seen archery form go from High elbow, medium, low, front arm this way, front arm that way over the years. Everybody's body is just different.
i elected to write it using the proper terminology to explain precisely what happens (or should happen) within the joint and potential negative outcomes if things don't work as they are designed to, not to brag or make myself sound smart. it doesn't have the same effect if i said, "when you raise your arm and get an ouchy then that's a no no". i would encourage people to look into what i am saying because it has merit. shoulder injuries are a pain and if i can help just one person avoid it then i will be happy.
 

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This is the best example of a mostly level draw. I took frames from a Dudley video, and created this GIF.


Full video link of Dudley. Excellent tips in the video.

That's actually how I draw my bows, never thought about it till just now..
 
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