Lat Stretches

Best Lat Stretches

The lats are the largest muscles in the upper body. They cover a large percentage of the mid and upper back and are involved in numerous motions related to the arms, scapula, and torso.

Given their involvement, the lats are prone to becoming sore and stiff, especially when doing high training volumes at the gym to build muscle and strength.

Stretching can be an effective way to alleviate stiffness, move more freely, and even improve your posture.

With that in mind, let’s review eight simple and effective lat stretches you can do at home.

Table of Contents

Main Takeaways

  • Lats can easily become stiff so always remember to stretch them to relieve muscle stress.

  • The lats can be stretched with or without equipment.

  • Stretch your lats weekly to promote muscle repair, improve mobility, and reduce stiffness and soreness.

Muscles Stretched

Primary Muscles Stretched 🙆‍♂️

  • Lats

Secondary Muscles Stretched 🙆‍♂️

  • Upper Back
  • Abs

8 Lat Stretches For Mobility, Flexibility, and Recovery

1. Bent-Over Chair Lat Stretch

To start the list, we have a simple and effective stretch to target the lats with only a chair.

How to:

  1. Stand a foot or two behind a chair.
  2. Place your hands on top of the back support.
  3. Slowly lean your torso forward and push your butt back until your torso aligns with your arms.
  4. Keep your arms straight and hold the position. You should feel a moderate stretch in your lats. 

Bent Over Chair Lat Stretch

2. Kneeling Chair Lat Stretch

The kneeling chair lat stretch is highly effective for stretching the lats and improving upper back mobility.

How to:

  1. Kneel in front of a chair.
  2. Lean forward and place your elbows on the seat. Bend your arms.
  3. Walk your knees back to clear enough room for your head as you lean forward.
  4. Lean forward and push your butt back, keeping your back straight. Resist the urge to bring your hands together. Keep your forearms aligned with your upper arms.
  5. Lower your torso until it aligns with your arms, and push down to stretch your lats.
  6. Hold the position for up to a minute.

Kneeling Chair Lat Stretch

3. Wall Lat Stretch

Wall lat stretches are simple and highly effective. You can do these without any equipment.

How to:

  1. Face a wall, standing a couple of feet away.
  2. Hinge at the hips (pushing your buttocks back) and lean forward.
  3. Place your hands flat on the wall. They should be at approximately hip height or slightly higher.
  4. Lean your torso a bit more while keeping your back straight. You should feel a stretch in your lats.

Wall Lat Stretch

4. Cat Cow (Yoga Pose)

The Cat-Cow yoga pose is fantastic for stretching your back and improving thoracic mobility. (1)

How to:

  1. Get down on all fours. Your arms should be straight with your hands flat on the floor. Have your knees and hips bent at 90 degrees.
  2. Take a breath and arch your back as much as possible, allowing your neck to move up and directing your gaze toward the ceiling.
  3. Pause briefly and immediately round your upper back as much as possible, exhaling as you do.
  4. Slowly move between the two positions several times and take a break.

Cat Stretch for Back

5. Side-Bending Lat Stretch

This is another simple but highly effective way to stretch the lats and alleviate stiffness.

How to:

  1. Stand tall with your arms at your sides.
  2. Lift your right arm and bend it over the top of your head with your hand close to your left ear.
  3. Grab your right hand with the left and pull it down.
  4. Simultaneously crunch your torso to the left and hold the position. You should feel a stretch in your right lat.
  5. Hold for up to 60 seconds, release, and stretch the opposite side in the same way.

Side Bending Lat Stretch

6. Foam Rolling the Lats

This is not a stretch but a form of myofascial release, where the goal is to roll a foam roller up and down the length of your lats. (2)

How to:

  1. Place a foam roller on the floor.
  2. Sit next to the foam roller and lie on one side, positioning your lat against it (just below the armpit).
  3. Bend your bottom leg and keep your top one straight. Plant your foot on the ground to push yourself up and down as you roll your lat.
  4. Begin to roll up and down the length of your lat, applying enough pressure to feel mild discomfort.
  5. Roll 10 to 15 times, then flip on your other side and repeat.

Foam Rolling the Lats

7. Lat Stretch With Exercise Ball

Using an exercise ball provides some nice variation, and the exercise ball provides good control during the movement.

  1. Assume a kneeling position on the floor on all fours.
  2. Lift your right arm onto an exercise ball as shown.
  3. Slowing push your right arm forward as you extend your arm and roll the ball away from and in front of you.
  4. Continue the motion until your arm is fully extended and you feel the stretch in your lats.
  5. Hold the position for 10 seconds.
  6. Retract your arm back to the start position.
  7. Perform 5 stretches, and then switch to your other arm.

Lat Stretch Exercise Ball

8. Seated Lat Stretch

This seated lat stretch is simple and easy to provide a good stretch for your lats.

  1. Assume a seated position with your legs extended.
  2. With your back straight and sitting up, slowing move your upper body forward as you extend your arms forward with your hands crossed.
  3. Extend forward until you feel a good stretch in your back and lats. Hold for 5 seconds.
  4. Return to the start position.
  5. Perform 5-10 repetitions.

Seated Lat Stretch

When to Perform Lat Stretches

You can stretch your lats a few times weekly to promote muscle recovery, potentially reduce muscle soreness, and improve overall back mobility.

You can do the stretches before training if you feel particularly stiff or after working out as a form of cooldown.

Alternatively, do them as part of a morning or evening routine.

Click to see more stretching routines. If you want to learn more about stretching out our video library.

Philip Stefanov

Philip Stefanov

Philip is a fitness writer, blogger, certified personal trainer, and the founder of ThinkingLifter.com. He trained at BioFit College, and has spent the last nine years writing fitness content and training men and women in the gym, as well as online. His passion is fitness and exercise, and helping others improve their fitness and wellness.

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References

  1. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2023, March 1). Cat/Cow Pose. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/multimedia/cat-cow-pose/vid-20453581#:~:text=Keep%20your%20hands%20shoulder%2Dwidth,cat.%22%20Repeat%20several%20times.
  2. Cheatham, S. W., Kolber, M. J., Cain, M., & Lee, M. (2015, November). The effects of self-myofascial release using a foam roll or roller massager on joint range of motion, Muscle Recovery, and performance: A systematic review. International journal of sports physical therapy. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4637917/

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