Last Updated on August 15, 2022 by TJ Daniels, Certified Personal Trainer
Your lats are the name most people call the latissimus dorsi muscles. These muscles in your back are very important when it comes to shoulder and arm movement.
Whether you’ve worked out too hard and your muscles are feeling sore, or you’re just looking to stretch and loosen these muscles, the exercises listed below will help!
What Are Your Lat Muscles?
Your latissimus dorsi muscles are located in your back.
It is responsible for all of the shoulder movements such as rotations and extensions of the arm. It is a wide muscle that occupies a large portion of the back which is why it is very important to keep them stretched and limber.
When Should You Do Your Stretches?
To get the most benefit from lat stretches you should ensure that you are stretching when your muscles are warmed up.
This means that you should do the exercises after a workout or after you have warmed up your muscles specifically to complete the stretches.
To make the most of these stretches, it is very important to ensure that you are maintaining proper form in order to ensure you are not causing yourself any injuries and you are making the most of the exercises.
For the best results, you should be doing some sort of stretching exercises at least 5 times a week. However, at a minimum, you should be completing them at least 3 times per week.
This stretch is a really useful one to add to your cool down, as it really helps with any muscle tightness or knots. You will need a foam roller for this exercise.
To complete this exercise follow these steps:
- Lie on your side with the foam roller placed underneath your lat muscle. Make sure you keep your spine in a neutral position.
- When you are doing this exercise on your right-hand side, ensure that your right leg remains straight and your left knee is bent.
- Using the roller, roll back and forth from underneath your arm up to your lower back. Move as slowly as possible to ensure core strength.
- Switch sides and do the same stretch on your left-hand side.
- Do each side 2 or 3 times and keep track of your sets and reps.
This stretch is great for highlighting where you should be giving tender loving care to, as it will really show where you have muscle tightness and knots.
This is a yoga stretch, and it is fantastic for loosening up your lats, as well as helping with any other muscle tightness.
Follow these steps to complete this exercise:
- Start on your hands and knees, with your spine flat and neutral.
- Press your chest forward and lower your stomach to the floor. This is the cow position. It is a good idea to inhale when you do this and exhale on the next step to ensure that your body is in tune with your movements.
- When you exhale, you will need to round your spine upwards and raise your stomach off the floor. This is known as the cat pose.
- Hold each position for 5-10 seconds and continue to complete each of these movements until you feel like you are all fully stretched out.
This exercise is a personal favorite of mine as it really loosens all your muscles, including your lats. If you are feeling sore, a few cat-cow poses will really help!
The wall press is a great one to stretch out those lat muscles! It is a simple exercise and one that makes the world of difference to your sore muscles!
Follow these steps to complete the stretch:
- Stand facing the wall. Bend yourself forwards by hinging at the hips.
- You should then place the flats of your hands on the wall at about the level of your hips.
- Hold yourself in this position for about a minute and then release. If you feel like it will help to stretch out your muscles further, complete this exercise again.
This is another yoga pose and it will really help to stretch out those sore muscles!
It is known as a restorative exercise which helps to relax your muscles while also stretching them out. Follow the steps below to complete this pose:
- Get on your hands and knees.
- Lower your bottom to the floor, resting it on the top of your calves.
- Keep your hands out in front of you and reach forward to deepen the stretch.
- If it feels comfortable to you, you can also deepen the stretch by walking your fingers over to each side, before bringing them back into the center.
- Hold this pose for as long as you like, until you feel nice and stretched out.
Active Floor Stretch
This stretch specifically focuses on the lat muscles. Follow these steps to complete the exercise:
- Get onto your hands and knees and sit back on your hips.
- Stretch your right forearm out along the floor.
- Place all of your weight onto this arm and stretch out your left arm. The stretch will be felt along your side.
- Hold it here, and then return to the starting position.
- Complete on both sides. Complete 1 set of 10 to begin with and work your way up as you don’t want to stretch your muscles too much on the first try and become sore.
While these exercises are very important and great for loosening out any of your muscles that may be tight and painful, if you are experiencing any pain or discomfort it is very important that you stop and consult a doctor or medical professional!
You don’t want to cause yourself further damage so ensure that you are listening to your body in these instances.
Whether you’re looking to ease any muscle tension or knots, or you’re hoping to add some strength and flexibility to your lat muscles, these exercises are for you!
Add them into your daily stretch routine, or complete them after a workout for best results.
Always make sure that you’re warmed up to prevent causing any damage to your muscles or back!