Tight lats muscles can not only trigger back pain but affect your posture as well.
For example, tight and overactive latissimus dorsi can contribute to an excessive anterior pelvic tilt.
And, regardless of how much time you spend releasing your hip flexors, if you neglect the lats, you’ll be sabotaging your efforts into restoring proper alignment.
I highly recommend you make releasing the lats part of your self-myofascial release routine.
It really doesn’t have to take more than a few minutes. Below is a tutorial that’ll show you exactly how to do it using a foam roller.
Before we get to the tutorial, I’d like to show you where the lats are located so you have an idea of targeting this muscle and the video tutorial will make much more sense.
Latissimus Dorsi (Lats) Location
Your lats (latissimus dorsi) are the largest muscles in the upper body (1).
And when overactive, they can contribute or be the cause of many postural deviations that result in constant mid-back and lower back pain.
A quick note before I continue… While you release the latissimus dorsi, I’d also recommend releasing the quadratus lumborum (ql), which is another deep lower back muscle that tightens up after prolonged sitting and causes back pain.
Remember that these muscles work together synergistically…
Tightness in one muscle will certainly affect other intrinsic muscles. I usually like to release both the lats and the QL at the same time.
Tight Latissimus Dorsi and Postural Distortion Syndromes
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A quick overview of how an overactive latissimus dorsi can affect your posture…
If you have an exaggerated anterior pelvic tilt (lower crossed syndrome), the latissimus dorsi is one of the short overactive muscles contributing to that posture.
So if you’ve been focusing on your hip flexors and you’re not noticing any difference, perhaps you’re neglecting your lats.
If you observe that your posture is more like the opposite… Rounded upper back, rounded shoulders, forward head, and posterior pelvic tilt, I highly recommend you check out my post here on how to fix rounded shoulders and upper back pain.
Lats Assessment Exercise
Here’s a quick test to see if this muscle is really tight and overactive:
Lift your arms up (straight up) with your feet straight and shoulder-width apart. Squat down (not too low – aim for a 45° angle).
Tight Lats Signs:
As you’re moving down, signs for tight lats are the inability to keep your arms parallel to your head as you move down.
If your arms are falling forward as you squat down, that’s an indication of a shortened, overactive latissimus dorsi.
Make sure to place the camera/phone facing your side because you don’t want to be rotating your head to view yourself as you’re squatting down.
Lats Pain And Tightness Release Tutorial
To release the lats, you’ll need a good quality foam roller. This is the one I use at home.
Thoracic Spine Rolling
Opening up your chest is another great way to avoid developing mid-back or lats pain. We spend long hours every day sitting slouched with our shoulders rounded.
It’s important to spend a few minutes a day doing the ‘opposite’ of that.
I like to just roll the thoracic spine and open up my arms and let my chest open up in this position.
You may feel like your shoulders are locked and can’t open up, but just breathe stay consistent. You’ll develop more flexibility over time.
This stretch will target the latissimus dorsi as well as open up your chest. You can either keep your palm facing down or rotate your hand externally for a deeper stretch.
If you get lats pain after certain specific activities, make sure to keep a log of those exercises or activities that are triggering pain so you can figure out what they all have in common.
Sometimes, a repetitive movement pattern can tighten up the lats and cause pain.
Doing some corrective exercise work before those exercises will help you avoid the pain in the long run.
Below are some important posts you should check out as well.
I do believe that maintenance work is required to maintain muscle balance and avoid chronic muscle pain.
Especially if you engage in repetitive movements or spend hours sitting on a daily basis.
- How to get relief from neck pain
- Upper trapezius pain release
- Hip flexor release tutorial (required if you are desk-bound for hours each day)
- Tensor Fascia Latta (TFL) release tutorial (another hip flexor can cause a lot of hip pain)
- Quadratus Lumborum pain release
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