Do you ever feel like your arm should be able to move higher, but aren’t sure what is holding it back? This might be caused by tightness in the latissimus dorsi. Overhead movements of the arm are found in many sports, such as swimming, tennis, badminton and basketball. It also occurs in many day-to-day tasks, such as reaching for objects on shelves. As the range of these movements become limited by the latissimus dorsi, your body may compensate to make shoulder flexion possible, such as excessive arching of the low back, or improperly contracting the neck muscles for shoulder movements. As such, latissimus dorsi tightness may also cause pain and stiffness in these areas to occur.
The best way to fix this tightness is to stretch and relieve tension in the latissimus dorsi regularly. One method is to use a foam roller to push into and relax tight knots within the latissimus dorsi, rolling about 20-30 times on each side until relief is felt. Another method would be to stretch the latissimus dorsi using a door frame. Start by standing right in the middle of the door frame. Cross one leg over to the other side, while using the arm on that side to grab onto the door frame as shown in the picture. Use your hip to shift your weight towards the opposite side and you should feel a comfortable stretch of the latissimus dorsi. Hold it for 30 seconds and repeat this 3 times on both sides.