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Raise your arms to help your posture

A tight latissimus dorsi muscles can affect your posture and cause low back and neck pain. Take the test to see if yours are tight and then release them.

Anatomy of a muscle

The latissimus dorsi (lats) is a wide muscle that is located very close to the skin. Its origin is the top of the hip (iliac crest) and the lumbar spine and runs up and around the back to insert on the inner part of the upper arm. The muscle brings the arm backward and in toward the body, lowers the shoulder girdle, brings the shoulder blades together, bends the spine backward and sideways, and increases the arch of the back when the arms are lifted over the head.

Causes of tightness

  • Since most major movements are performed with the arms below the head, this muscle becomes tight and shortened from lack of exercise.

  • Tension in this muscle can limit movement done with the arms above the shoulder, such as putting things away on a shelf above your head.

  • It can also internally rotate the arm at the shoulder causing rounded, slumped shoulders. This affects the position of the head causing tension in the neck.

Symptoms of tightness

  • Difficulty working with the hands high above the head

  • Pain in the shoulder joint

  • Pain or ache in the lower back

Flexibility test

Stand with your back against a wall or lie on the floor with our arms by your sides. Bring your arms up in front of you and try to reach the wall or the floor with the back of your hands. Your low back will have a slight arch to it - enough to slide your hand between it and the wall/floor. Keep your arms straight at the elbow. If you cannot touch the wall or floor, you have tight lat muscles. The lats are typically tight in two areas – in the armpit and right below the ribs.

The fix

Releasing the muscle will eliminate trigger points and adhesions, ease tension, and increase circulation to the area. Here is how to do it.

Upper spot:

  • Lie on your right side on the floor with your head supported on a pillow so that your spine is neutral

  • Raise your right arm as far over your head as comfortable

  • Put a tennis ball or lacrosse ball under your armpit

  • Find a tender spot and hold this position for 30 seconds to 2 minutes or until there is just pressure, not pain

Lower spot:

  • Lie on your back with your knees and hips bent 90 degrees and your feet resting on a chair

  • Place a tennis ball or lacrosse ball between your iliac crest and your ribs (kidney area) on the right side of your spine

  • Find a tender spot and hold for 30 seconds to 2 minutes or until the pain subsides and there is just pressure

  • You can increase the tension by leaning your knees to the right side

These releases can be performed daily.

Stand Up Str8 is all about posture and its effects on mobility and pain. Check out our posture-improving products!


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