Stretching is one of the most important ways to maintain mobility and flexibility, but it’s often one of the last things on our minds after a long workout.
Developing strong, flexible lats is key for a safe and effective exercise regime.
Stretching can make all the difference in mobility and preventing injury while increasing muscle strength and endurance.
Here is a quick guide of 5 of the best lat stretches that will help you achieve a greater range of motion in your workout! Keep reading to ensure your body gets the full benefits from each rep.
5 Best Lat Stretches
Child’s pose is a yoga pose that primarily stretches the muscles in the back, particularly the lats.
This pose is commonly used as a resting position during yoga practice and can also be used as a gentle stretch on its own.
To perform the child’s pose:
Begin by kneeling on the ground with your toes touching and your knees hip-width apart
Slowly lower your hips towards your heels and extend your arms in front of you
Lower your chest and head to the ground, resting your forehead on the mat or floor
Take deep breaths and try to relax into the pose, feeling a stretch in your back muscles as you do so
Aim to hold this position for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Child’s pose is not only beneficial for stretching the lats, but it also helps with relaxation and calming the mind.
It can be used as a gentle stretch before or after a workout, or as a way to release tension in the back muscles throughout the day.
Bent Over Lat Stretch
Another effective stretch for the lats is the bent-over lat stretch. This can be done while standing or seated in a chair.
To perform the bent-over lat stretch:
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, keeping your back straight.
Bend over and place both hands on a stable surface or chair for support.
Slowly lower your torso towards the ground, feeling a stretch in your lats.
Hold this position for 20-30 seconds and then slowly come back up to a standing position.
In addition to stretching the lats, the bent-over lat stretch also targets other muscles in the back such as the rhomboids and trapezius. It can help improve posture and alleviate tension in the upper back.
Hanging Lat Stretch
The hanging lat stretch is another great way to target the lats. It requires a pull-up bar or sturdy overhead structure to hang from.
To perform the hanging lat stretch:
Hang from a pull-up bar with an overhand grip, slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
Allow your body to fully extend and relax into the stretch, feeling a gentle stretch in your lats.
Hold this position for 20-30 seconds and then release.
As you become more flexible, you can increase the width of your grip to deepen the stretch.
As your grip strength become stronger, you can try it with one hand.
The hanging lat stretch not only targets the lats but also engages the core muscles and improves grip strength. It can be a challenging stretch, so make sure to listen to your body and only go as far as you feel comfortable.
Don’t let the name fool you. The tricep stretch is also a great way to target the lats as well as the triceps. It can be done standing or seated, making it an easily accessible stretch for anyone.
To perform the tricep stretch:
Stand or sit with your back straight and shoulders relaxed.
Reach one arm overhead, bending at the elbow so your hand reaches toward the opposite shoulder.
Use your other hand to gently push the elbow back, deepening the stretch in the tricep and lats.
Hold for 20-30 seconds and then switch arms.
To deepen the stretch, you can also tilt your head towards the stretching arm.
The tricep stretch not only targets the lats but also helps improve flexibility in the shoulders and arms. It can also be a great way to release tension in these muscles after a workout or a long day at a desk.
Standing/Seated Side Reaches
Another great stretch for the lats is the standing/seated side reach. It can be done anywhere and doesn’t require any equipment, making it a convenient stretch for busy individuals.
To perform the standing side reach:
Stand with your feet hip-width apart (or seated) and arms at your sides.
Reach one arm up and over your head, bending at the waist to create a side stretch.
Keep your other arm relaxed by your side or use it to gently hold onto your top arm for a deeper stretch.
Hold for 20-30 seconds and then switch sides.
To deepen the stretch, you can also reach towards the opposite foot with your free hand while maintaining the side bend.
Standing side reaches not only target the lats but also help improve flexibility in the spine and hips. It can also be a great way to relieve tension in the upper body and improve posture.
Latissimus Dorsi Muscles Anatomy
Now that we know how to stretch our lats, let’s look at the anatomy and function of them.
The lats, or latissimus dorsi muscles, are the large, flat muscles on either side of your back that extend from your upper arm down to your lower back.
Growing your lats can help you achieve the “V” taper giving off the allusion of a tight waist and wide shoulders.
They are responsible for a variety of movements including extension, adduction, and rotation of the shoulder joint.
Along with the trapezius and rhomboid muscles, they help support proper posture and assist in everyday movements such as pulling, lifting, and reaching.
Strengthening and stretching the lats can also improve overall athletic performance and reduce the risk of injury.
Can I use a massage gun to relax my lats?
Most places to avoid the use of massage guns include the neck, spine, elbow, knees, ankles, kidney area, and head/face.
Can I use a foam roller to massage my lats?
Yes. Foam rolling is a great way to relieve tightness and soreness.
Ultimately, the key to unlocking your body’s flexibility and mobility is through practice and consistency.
When done correctly, these five best lat stretches will increase two important components of movement – range of motion and strength.
Remember to perform full-body dynamic flexibility exercises in addition to these stretches, which help warm up muscles for activity or cool them down afterward.
Listen to your body, take your time during stretching sessions, and realize that improving mobility takes time.
Don’t forget to breathe while performing all stretching routines as this is essential for optimal performance and wellbeing.
All in all, if you make a commitment to doing these stretches regularly as well as committing to a healthy diet and lifestyle, you can soon start to enjoy the benefits of increased mobility! So what are you waiting for? Get stretchin’!