A 'Better' Way to Stretch Your Lats

The lats can be stretched in a lot of different ways. In this post we look at 'a better way' to stretch the lats, which is really just an integration of different stresses to the tissue and nervous system, not just a different stretch position.

This will bring some pieces together from rolling out to active stretching to loaded stretching to show you some ways that go beyond just holding a static stretch as the answer to all 'stretching' needs.

The Routine

For 8-10 minutes:

  • 20-30 seconds roll out your lats on a foam roller
  • We are doing this to decrease muscle tension, not 'break' anything down
  • 10 reps active lat stretch each arm
  • We are doing this as a way to do an active, unloaded stretch of the lats
  • 3-5 reps accentuated negative chin up
  • Here we want to do a slow negative rep with a hollow body position. Hold the bottom of the chin up with an engaged anterior chain for 10 seconds. Drop down from the bar and hop back up between each rep. Don't pull into the next rep out of the dead hang.

A Little About Lat Anatomy
The latissimus dorsi muscle, better known as the lat, literally means 'broadest muscle of the back'. The lats attach your humerus (or upper arm bone) to your lower back. This literally means your shoulder is connected to your lower back.

Since it crosses multiple joints, tight lats can affect many different areas of your body. If your lats are tight and you reach overhead, it will pull your lower back into extension (making you arch excessively). Over time, especially if this happens while weight lifting, it can make your back sensitive to extension.

In order to stretch the lats without just over-stretching your shoulder joint, you need to position your lower back so the lats are put under pre-tension.

You can achieve this by flexing (rounding) your lower back and side-bending away from the side you are stretching.

This will use the anatomy of the lats to your advantage for better stretching so you target the lat muscle and not the shoulder joint.


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