The 10 Best Latissimus Dorsi Stretches

This blog post will show you 10 different ways to perform Latissimus Dorsi stretches.

What causes a tight latissimus dorsi muscle?

For the majority of the day, it is very likely that your arms are resting by the sides of your body.

(Think about when you’re driving, using the computer, walking, running etc.)

This places the Latissimus Dorsi muscles in a shortened position (… and for long periods at a time too!).

As a result – this muscle can get commonly tight in many people!

How do you know if your lats are Tight?

To determine if your Latissimus Dorsi muscle is tight, you will need to measure your shoulder mobility in the following 2 positions.

a) Position 1

how do you know if your lats are tight?


  • Lie down on your back with your legs bent.
  • Tilt your pelvis forwards to create a small arch in your lower back.
  • Bring your arms over head as far as possible.
  • Make sure to keep your elbows inwards and thumbs pointing towards the floor.
  • Take note of how far you can bring your arms back.

b) Position 2

test for tight lats


  • Lie down on your back with your legs bent.
  • Tilt your pelvis backwards to keep your lower back completely flat against the floor.
  • Bring your arms over head as far as possible.
  • Make sure to keep your elbows inwards and thumbs pointing towards the floor.
  • Take note of how far you can bring your arms back.

Results: If your shoulder mobility reduces in Position 2, it is likely that you have tight Latissimus Dorsi.

How do you release your lats?

My Recommendation: To get the most out of the Latissumus Dorsi stretches mentioned on this blog post, I recommend that you release your lats before stretching!

Latissimus Dorsi release

latissimus dorsi release with foam roller


  • Make sure you know the exact location of the Latissimus Dorsi muscle.
  • Lie down on your side.
  • Place the Latissimus Dorsi muscle directly on top of a foam roller.
  • Position your arm in an outstretched position.
  • Apply as much body weight onto the foam roller as tolerated.
    • Keep relaxed. Do not tense up.
  • Make sure to cover the entire length of the muscle.
  • Continue for 2 minutes.

Note: If you have a shoulder issue (such as Shoulder Impingement, Rotator cuff strain, Bursitis etc.) which prevents you from assuming the positions shown in the following Latissimus Dorsi Stretches, you will need to focus on the Releases for now.

The 10 Best Lat stretches

It is vital that you FEEL the stretch in the Latissimus Dorsi muscle. Focus on the stretches that produce the most stretch. (You do NOT need to do them all!)

Quick tips:

  • Do not stretch into any pain.
  • Keep your body as relaxed as possible. “Sink” into the stretch.
  • Once you achieve a decent stretch, you can increase the stretch by taking a deep breath in.
  • Learn to bow your spine to specifically target certain areas of the muscle.
  • The following stretches are listed from least to most intense.

1. Child’s pose

childs pose stretch for lats


  • Start in a crawling position.
  • Sit your buttocks on top of your ankles.
  • Stretch out both arms and place them in front of you as far away as possible.
  • Keep your lower back rounded.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.
  • To stretch one Latissimus Dorsi at a time, reach out both arms to the opposite side.

2. Elbow pull

latissimus dorsi stretch exercise


  • Reach your hand down towards the middle back region.
  • Place your other hand onto the elbow of the hand that is reaching down the back.
  • Pull the elbow towards the midline.
  • Tilt your torso towards the side.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.

3. Side lie on exercise ball

lat stretch on exercise ball


  • Lie on your side on an exercise ball.
  • Keep your feet near a wall to maintain balance.
  • Reach over with the arm on the upper side.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.

4. Lat stretch whilst sitting

latissimus dorsi stretch whilst sitting


  • Sit on a chair with a table in front of you.
  • Place both elbows pointing forwards on to the edge of the table.
  • Move your hips away from the table.
  • Allow your chest to drop.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.

5. Door frame lean

lat stretch


  • Assume the position above.
  • Hold onto a door frame with your hand.
  • Whilst anchoring your legs as shown, aim to bend your mid section as much as possible.
    • Use your body weight to sink into the stretch
  • Twist your pelvis away.
  • Aim to feel a stretch on the side of your torso.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.

6. Side bend with resistance band

lat stretch with band


  • Hold onto a thick resistance band that is anchored above head level.
  • Reach your arm over head towards the opposite side.
  • Step away from the anchor point until there is a firm tension on the band.
  • Relax your arm as you sink your body weight onto the resistance band.
  • Most of your body weight should be on the leg that is furthest away from the resistance band.
  • Twist your pelvis away.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.

7. Side lie stretch

latissimus dorsi stretch advanced


  • Lie down on your side.
  • Place your elbow onto the side of a soft couch.
  • Allow your body to sink towards the floor.
  • Stretch the bottom leg away from the rest of your body.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.

8. Hanging lat Stretches

hanging lat stretch


  • Hang off a bar above your head height
  • Allow your body to completely relax.
  • You can keep your feet lightly rested on the floor.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.
  • To increase the stretch: Apply weights to your ankles.
  • Note: Do not attempt this exercise if you have issues in your upper limb, shoulder or neck.

9. Single arm lean


  • Hold onto a bar above your head with one hand.
  • Sink your body into this hand.
  • Keep your feet lightly rested on the floor.
  • Lean towards the side.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.

10. Eccentric loading of the Latissimus Dorsi

This involves generating a muscular contraction whilst the muscle is lengthening. This will help stretch out the Latissimus Dorsi.

latissimus dorsi eccentric exercise


  • Lie down on your back with your knees bent.
  • Keep your lower back completely flat on the floor throughout the exercise.
  • Hold onto a challenging weight with both your hands.
  • Slowly lower the weight down above your head without allowing the lower back to arch.
  • Aim to feel a stretch in the lats at the bottom of the movement.
  • Repeat 10 times.


The Latissimus Dorsi is a muscle that is commonly tight in the vast majority of people.

It can also be a significant contributor to many common postural issues.

If you know you have a tight Latissimus Dorsi, be sure to give these Lat stretches a try!

What to do next

1. Any questions?… (Leave me a comment down below.)

2. Come join me on the Facebook page. Let’s keep in touch!

3. Start doing the exercises!

Disclaimer: The content presented on this blog post is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. It exists for informational purposes only. Use of the content provided on this blog post is at your sole risk. For more information: Medical disclaimer.

9 thoughts on “The 10 Best Latissimus Dorsi Stretches”

  1. Thanks for the stretch ideas. I have cerebral palsy and now that I’m in my 30s it is really causing some strain on my right lats. I’ve been looking everywhere for remedies to get relief.

    • Hey Kara,

      Hope you find the lat stretches helpful.

      Make sure that you are also not squashing your spine towards the right side as you are sitting as this can be associated with tightness of the lats.


  2. Dear mark,
    Important question,

    does streching the latissimus dorsi require the upper trapezius to be streched as well?

    If the pull up/pull down motion is for mostly latissimus Dorsi then the opposite motion seem to be the shoulder press /hand stand etc..

    My question, is if it streches the latissimus but also elevates the shoulders/scapula then the upper trapezius is seem to be activated

    But is it streching the latissimus dorsi or is the shoulder/scapula needs to be netural/depression/streched upper trapezius position?

    Idk if im explaining it properly…

    •If you do the latissimus strech and the scapula is elevated it strech the lats more or less compared to when the scapula is depressed???

    • Hi Aviv,

      To get the most out of a lat stretch, the scapula will need to elevate. This is because the lats can depress the shoulder girdle as well.


      • Kind of an odd question?
        What position of the scapula is streching the latissimus dorsi?
        Ive seen that the lats attch to the intertubercular groove of the humerus and the humerus is connected the the scapula

        than what position of the scapula is the lats in a strech even when the humerus is “resting”?

        From what I know there are 6 movements of the scapula:
        upward rotation,
        and downward rotation

        So what position the scapula can be in where the humerus gives a stretch to the lats when the humerus is resting/natural position?

        Sorry if im not explaining it right

  3. Good morning. I strained my left middle Latissimus Dorsi muscle last week during a hike. I’ve been searching for stretches that could help. Your post was the first one I found that was instructive and to the point. I don’t have a question. Just wanted to thank you for the post.

    All the bast,


  4. Hi Mark, I have been having lat pain/spasms for 6+ months now. I’m fairly active with my grandkids and do planks every day, but don’t have a routine for exercising. Almost daily I have to lift my grandson with CP, and he weighs 65+ lbs. My lats normally hurt when turning over in bed and getting up from sitting down. I don’t have pain when doing other daily activities. Not sure if I need a new bed, and/or more supportive furniture, but I am going to try your stretches. Getting my foam roller out now! Thanks for posting this and I’m open to other suggestions as well.

    • Hello Peggy,

      Hope the stretches help out with your lat issue.

      Another thing to consider: have you checked if your spine tends to bend towards one side? This can make the lats work harder than they should. (See post: Scoliosis)



Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.