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Run Better: Roll your Lats

​Why should runners use the foam roller on their latissimus dorsi? As a matter of fact…why should everyone be rolling out their lats?

Of all the areas that people foam roll, this one is probably forgotten the most. Many people associate foam rollers with your lower body, but the Latissimus Dorsi, or the bat wings, as they’re sometimes called are just as important. Overly tight lats can lead to shoulder pain and dysfunction, back pain as well as a whole slew of other problems since it is such a large muscle and is used often.  

Three ways lats help you move, breathe and run better:

1) This superficial large “fan-like” muscle has a deep connection between your core and glutes which will effect the way you perform and move. 

2) Your lats also help with diaphragmatic breathing because they assist in the cross sectional movement throughout your torso.  

3) There is a “spiral line” of fascia which connects the shoulder to the opposite hip down to the ankle. A tightness or dysfunction at one end will impede performance at the other end.  In other words, if your lats are weak and tight then your run is going to suck.  

Simple solution: foam roll/soft tissue work of your lats. This video teaches a few foam rolling techniques for your lats that will improve your running, help with frozen shoulders and decrease neck pain.

Because lats run up and into the armpits, start lying on your side with the foam roller under your armpit with the bottom arm extended flat on the floor.  Lie with knees comfortably bent and begin to roll side to side using the top arm as a long lever opening your chest and “smashing” your lats into the roller.  Maneuver your body around the roller.  Next,  rest top arm on the roller to hold in place while lifting the bottom arm and down “pinning” your lat.  Finally, use your leg “roll” your lat forward and backward on the roller with bottom arm lifted to allow a smooth movement. Repeat on opposite side.

In the video, we made each move 3-4 times but at home, consider 30-60 seconds depending on comfort level and ability. 

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