Training25th September 2017

Tutorial: Lats Foam Roll


The lats foam roll is a functional flexibility exercise. Using the grid foam roller in a side-lying position, it targets the latissimus dorsi – the largest back muscle – helping to improve extensibility of this important postural muscle.It should be a staple warm up or cool down exercise for everybody, especially those who sit down a lot during work.


  • Lie on your side and place the foam roller horizontally, at the point where the back meets the shoulder. Straighten the arm and turn the thumb up (external shoulder rotation). Stabilize the body with the other hand and bend the front leg.
  • Engage the core and begin rolling slowly down the side of the back, towards the hip. As soon as you feel the roller hit the ribs, slowly roll back up
  • Repeat slowly for 30-60sec, then switch sides.
Training tip – if you find any tender points in the muscle, hang out for a few seconds, breathing slowly through the nose. To increase your flexibility, immediately follow this exercise with a 30s static lat stretch


  • The latissimus dorsi internally rotates, adducts and extends the shoulder. When shortened posturally, it can contribute to rounded shoulders. If this is left unchecked, it can lead to rotator cuff dysfunction, and back/neck pain. In addition, it can also inhibit full range of motion in overhead movements (presses, handstands, etc) – resulting in unnecessary loads through the low back and shoulders.
  • Modern day lifestyles put the lats into an almost permanent state of shortness, as we work at computer, tap into mobile phones and sit for prolonged periods of time. We rarely take the arms overhead, and spend little time strengthening this range of motion. Regular performing of the lats foam roll exercise can help to alleviate some of these lifestyle demands and should be considered a vital corrective exercise for everyone.
  • While the lats foam roll is a great exercise for improving muscle extensibility and range of motion at the shoulder, it’s also important to improve strength in this range. To achieve this, add pull up exercises, handstands and long lever planks to your workouts to develop strength and control in the overhead position – this will help maintain your range of motion.
  • Foam rolling of any kind is not only a great substitute for traditional static stretching – it also improves circulation to your muscles as part of a warm up or cool down.

View other tutorials: