Stretching your lats is an important part of any exercise routine. Not only will it help to improve your range of motion and flexibility, but it can also reduce the risk of injury. The latissimus dorsi—or “lats” for short—are a large muscle group on the sides and back of the torso involved in many kinds of upper body movement. To effectively stretch this area, you can do several different exercises.
Here we will look at five stretches that target the lats and provide tips on doing them correctly for maximum benefit.
Table of Contents
Why Should You Stretch Your Lats?
Stretching your lats helps to improve the flexibility and range of motion in this area, which is essential for any upper body movement. Regular stretching can also reduce the risk of injury while performing activities that involve the lats, such as weightlifting or sports. Additionally, it can help alleviate muscle tension and soreness after a workout.
The lats can be difficult to target with stretching since they are located on the sides of the torso, so it is important to use exercises that effectively reach this muscle group.
How We Use Our Lats in Day-to-Day Activities
The lats are used in various activities, from carrying groceries to throwing a baseball. When we lift anything overhead (such as reaching for an item on the top shelf), our lats contract to bring our arms up and back down again. The same is true when we do push-ups or pull-ups—our lats help keep our bodies straight and stable.
Another example is when we reach out to hug someone or pick something up off the floor. Our last contract helps us stabilize our backs as we lower ourselves and lift the object. Therefore, having strong, flexible lats is important for any daily activity that involves reaching overhead or bending down.
5 Best Lat Stretches
Now let’s look at five stretches that will help target the lats and give you increased flexibility and range of motion.
This yoga pose is an effective way to stretch the lats, shoulders, arms, and back. Begin in a tabletop position on your hands and knees, with your hands directly beneath your shoulders and your knees below your hips. Spread your fingers wide, press into the floor, and lift your knees away from the ground. Draw your tailbone up towards the sky and push back through your heels as you straighten out your legs. You should feel a gentle stretch in the lats, arms, and chest. Hold this pose for several breaths before releasing back to the tabletop position.
This yoga pose is great for stretching the lats and the entire back and shoulders. Begin on your hands and knees with your toes together and your knees slightly wider than hip-width apart. Sit back onto your heels, then lower your chest towards the ground. Next, reach your arms before you and rest your forehead on the floor. Hold this pose for several breaths, focusing on relaxing your back and shoulders.
Thread The Needle
This stretch is great for targeting the lats as well as the rhomboid (the muscles between the shoulder blades). Begin on all fours with your hands directly beneath your shoulders and knees below your hips. Bring one arm up at a time and thread it under the opposite armpit, keeping both palms facing down towards the floor. Gently press down into the floor with both palms to deepen the stretch in the lats. Hold this pose for several breaths before switching sides.
This effective stretch helps target the lats while stretching out the chest and shoulders. Begin by lying on your side with your legs straight and one forearm resting on the floor before you. Next, reach up with your top arm and clasp both hands together, then bring your clasped hands down towards the ground. You should feel a gentle stretch through your lats, chest, and shoulders. Hold this pose for several breaths before switching sides.
Standing Knee-to-Chest Stretch
This final stretch helps to target the lats while also releasing tension from the lower back. Begin standing with feet hip-width apart, arms at your sides. Bring one knee up towards your chest as you bend forward slightly. Reach back with the opposite arm and clasp your hands behind your lifted knee. You should feel a gentle stretch in your lats, as well as your lower back. Hold this pose for several breaths before switching sides.
When Should You Stretch Your Lats
Use correct form and posture while performing these exercises to achieve optimum results. Stretch yourself only as far as it is comfortable – never push your body into a position that causes pain or distress.
Warm up your muscles before stretching to get the most out of these exercises. You can do this through a light-duty warmup or an exercise routine’s end. Feel free to repeat each movement several times daily if you wish! Aim for three days per week with dedicated stretches to achieve optimal results.
The lats are an important muscle group contributing to upper body strength and mobility. Incorporating these five stretches into your routine can help you maintain flexibility, reduce the risk of injury, and improve posture. Remember to use the correct form while stretching and never push yourself beyond what is comfortable. With some practice and dedication, you’ll see results in no time!