The back muscles also make up some of the muscles of the core, particularly the lats. Developing these muscles will not only give your body great proportion, but it will also help you have a strong, sturdy base for all kinds of daily activities.
The lats, or the latissimus dorsi, are the large muscles of the back. These muscles are located on either side of the back and travel from the back of the shoulder all the way down to the hips.
Yoga Stretches to stretch and strengthen your lats
Pay attention to how your muscles are feeling as you do the poses.
Do this routine on its own or as part of a longer workout. These poses can help relieve stress, pain, and tension.
Upward Salute (Urdhva Hastasana) is also called Raised Hands Pose or Palm Tree Pose. This pose stretches your lats along with the sides of your body, your spine, your shoulders, and your armpits.
- Begin in Mountain Pose (Tadasana) with your heels slightly apart and your weight balanced evenly on both feet.
- Lift both arms up toward the ceiling.
- Engage your core and tuck in your tailbone slightly, keeping your spine in alignment.
- If it’s comfortable for you, bend backward slightly.
Eagle Pose (Garudasana) can be done while standing or sitting. This pose can help increase flexibility and range of motion in your shoulders and upper back.
- Stretch both arms straight forward, parallel to the floor.
- Cross your arms in front of your upper body so your right arm is above your left arm. Bend your elbows.
- Tuck your right elbow into the crook of your left elbow and raise both forearms so they’re perpendicular to the floor.
- Press your palms together and breathe deeply, focusing on releasing tension in your back and shoulders.
- Reverse your arms and repeat.
The spinal rolls of Cat-Cow (Chakravakasana) will help loosen up your lats.
- Begin on your hands and knees with a neutral spine.
- Inhale and move into Cow Pose by lifting your seat bones, pressing your chest forward, and allowing your belly to sink toward the floor.
- As you exhale, move into Cat Pose by rounding your spine outward and tucking in your tailbone.
- Allow your head to release toward the floor in a relaxed position.
- Press firmly into your arms throughout both movements and pay attention to how your shoulder blades change position.
Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) elongates your spine and helps build strength in your lats.
- Begin on all fours with your wrists under your shoulders and your knees under your hips.
- Tuck your toes under and lift your hips up off the floor.
- Straighten your legs and move your heels toward the floor (they do not have to be on the floor). If your hamstrings are tight , it’s OK to keep your knees slightly bent. You can also walk your hands forward if you need more length.
- Press firmly through your palms and focus on broadening across your collarbones and shoulders. Allow your chin to tuck into your chest.
Upward-Facing Dog (Urdhva Mukha Svanasana) is a back-bending pose that can strengthen your lats.
- Lie on your stomach on the floor. Stretch your legs out behind you and rest the tops of your feet on the floor.
- Bend your elbows and place your palms on the floor beside your waist.
- Inhale and straighten your arms while lifting your upper body and your legs a few inches off the floor.
- Draw your shoulders back and down, away from your ears.
Child’s Pose (Balasana) is a restorative pose that can help you relax your spine, shoulders, and neck while also stretching your lats.
- From Downward Dog, take a deep breath and exhale. Release your knees onto the floor while pulling your hips back to your heels. Rest your forehead on the floor.
- You can also relax in this pose with your knees slightly wider than your hips.
- To deepen the stretch, walk your fingers as far forward as possible. Walk your fingers to each side before bringing them back to the center and resting in this position.
Stretching your lats a few times per week can help you gain flexibility, reduce pain, and increase your range of motion. This will help prevent injury and will leave you feeling better overall, allowing you to move with strength and ease.
Speak with your doctor if you experience pain while doing these exercises.