The latissimus dorsi, or better known as lats, is one of the biggest muscles in our backs.
It’s recognizable for the “V” shape it has and is responsible for controlling the movement in our shoulders.
Overusing and injuring your lats can lead to tightness in the area, sometimes even pain.
Regardless of what the feeling is, one thing is certain, it’s very uncomfortable and can restrain your full range of motion.
How do you fix sore lats?
You can easily prevent feeling sore in the area of your upper back, specifically your lats. Some steps you can take are:
- Stretch regularly
- Drink plenty of water during the day, especially before and after working out
- Maintain good posture
- Avoid slouching
- Get a massage occasionally
- Warm-up before working out
- Do exercises to cool down after work out
Why do my lats hurt so bad?
In general, pain in your lats is caused by overusing it. Excessive exercising or strenuous physical activities can cause inflammation in your lats which can later lead to pain. Some of the most common activities that can lead to pain in your lats are:
- Snow shoveling
- Wood chopping
All of the above require you to activate your lats excessively, which results in soreness, tightness, and pain in the area. Another cause of pain in your lats muscle can be poor posture and slouching, so if your lats feel sore, try fixing your posture, it might help. In rare cases, the lats muscle can tear. This mostly happens to professional athletes and a doctor’s check is required if this happens.
How do you loosen tight lats?
Tight lats can be uncomfortable, but luckily, there are some stretches and exercises you can do to loosen it up and make it stronger at the same time. The most effective stretches can be done at home, however, doing some light yoga stretches and exercises can also do wonders for your overall body muscles, not only your lats.
You can also try foam rolling as it has proven to be very effective against a range of muscle tightness and pain in your body.
How do I strengthen my latissimus?
Your lats take up a big part of your upper body muscles, so they are responsible for the strength in your upper body. To make them stronger and healthier, you can do regular stretching, foam rolling or do some simple yoga stretches. All activities will warm up the area and promote blood flow to your latissimus dorsi muscle, which will relax it and release you from the soreness you feel in the area.
What do tight lats cause?
The latissimus is the largest muscle in your upper back area, so if something is wrong with it, you will definitely feel it. Feeling tightness in your lats can limit your free range of movement, cause discomfort while sitting or standing, and ultimately, be painful.
Moreover, your lats protect your spine, so weak lats can cause you to have bad posture, weaken your upper body, and make you more susceptible to upper-body back injuries.
How do you feel your lats?
Identifying that the pain is located in your lats can be hard. The muscle is pretty big, so many people mistake their lats pain with other common types of back pain or shoulder pain. The best and easiest way to make sure the pain you’re feeling is in your lats muscle is simply to feel it. There are several exercises you can do to feel if your latissimus dorsi muscle is getting activated and how strong it is such:
- One-arm dumbbell rows- while pulling up the dumbbells with one arm, use the other to feel your latissimus dorsi muscle.
- Straight arm lat pulldown – pull something towards you several times (an elastic rope is the easiest one) with one arm, while keeping the other one on your lats
In general, all exercises that activate the upper back muscles can be used to feel your lats. These two are one of the simplest ones that will allow you to feel your lats muscle and how it activates during exercising. You should feel your lats muscle regularly as you keep exercising to feel its strength building up.
What is the best exercise for latissimus dorsi?
Most of us don’t have enough time to go to the gym or yoga classes, so our muscles get weaker over time. However, this doesn’t mean you can strengthen your lats at home.
There are a couple of home stretches you can do that are pretty simple and easy to do at home, but don’t take much of your time.
This is a fairly simple stretch you can do at home, in your office, at a friend’s house, anywhere. Any place that has a wall is a good enough place for this stretch.
- Stand approximately 2 feet across a wall
- Lean towards the wall by bending your lower back at your hips
- Place your palms on the wall at your hip height
- Hold this position for around 1 minute
Active Floor Stretch
You also don’t need anything for this stretch, other than a floor, obviously. You can do it in the following way:
- Kneel down on the floor with your hips back and forearms on the floor
- Support your weight with your right arm and stretch out the left on as further away as you can
- Stay in this position for a few seconds and go back into the starting position
- Repeat around 10 times on each side
Upward Salute – Yoga Stretch
Also known as the Raised Hands Pose or Palm Tree Pose, this yoga stretching exercise can do wonders for your latissimus dorsi muscle, and is one of the easiest ones to do.
- Stand up straight with your feet slightly apart and your weight evenly distributed on both legs
- Lift both your arms up with the palms pointing towards the ceiling
- Start opening your arms while lowering them to the side of your body while engaging your core and tucking in your tailbone
- Maintain your spine straight while doing the exercise
- **You can bend backward if it feels comfortable, but it’s not mandatory
- Repeat 10 times
How can I strengthen my latissimus dorsi at home?
One of the best things you can do for your latissimus dorsi muscle is called foam rolling.
If you’re wondering what that is and how to foam roll lats, it’s a piece of equipment used to massage your muscles and loosen them up.
This is due to a process called Myofascial Release which helps the release of soft tissue, myofascial adhesions, and fascial restrictions, ultimately relieving pressure in the muscle.
To answer your question on how to foam roll lats, this is the process to do it:
- Lay on your right side and place the foam roller under your lat
- Maintain your right leg straight and bend your left one to a position that feels comfortable to you
- Roll the foam back and forth from your lower back to your underarm as slowly as possible
- Keep rolling for 1 minute and repeat with the other side
After a few weeks of regularly foam rolling your lats, you will start feeling the strength returning to it and how your overall mobility and flexibility will improve.
Besides foam rolling, you can also do the stretches and exercises we mentioned above, all of them will help your lats become stronger and with it, you to become more mobile.
Stretching your lats regularly can help you become more flexible, increase your range of motion and minimize pain and tightness.
As one of the biggest and most important muscles in our body, it’s important to maintain it strong and flexible.
However, if your pain is increasing, you feel swelling or bruising in the area, make sure to consult a doctor as your injury may require medical attention.