Stretching - The Latissimus Dorsi

Stability Stretching Series™: For Runners

The Stability Strategy to Improve Running Efficiency

The Latissimus and Hips

Purpose:
Lengthen the latissimus dorsi muscles and mobilize the hips while maintaining neutral alignment of the shoulders, trunk, and spine.  

Common mistake:
Not stretching the latissimus dorsi or mobilizing the hips. 

Why is this important?
Generally, the latissimus dorsi (lats) are short and tight and pull the shoulders down and forward. They will also over-compress the trunk and spine decreasing running efficiency. Also, runner’s hips get tight and tend to shift forward which inhibits the glutes from working. This unique stretch helps lengthen the lats and simultaneously aligns and mobilizes the hips.

Stability Stretching Strategy™:

  1. Stand in a doorway and place your hands flat against the door about shoulder height (image 1). Maintain alignment of your head, trunk, and spine throughout the stretching sequence and avoid over-arching your back.
  2. Take a deep breath and bend your elbows so that your forearm rest upon the wall.  At the same time sit back in your hips by pushing your pelvis behind you.
  3. Return to standing and repeat for 3-5 reps per side.  Maintain your spine and pelvis alignment throughout the pattern and over-arching your back because you are trying to over-stretch or experience a greater stretch.

Remember: *Don’t confuse sensation with effectiveness!*
Don’t try to force this stretch in order to ‘feel’ a stronger stretch in your lats or hips. Just because you ‘feel’ a deeper stretch by forcing it doesn't mean it is better for you.Your nervous system will lengthen your lats and give you hip mobility as much as it needs to when you respect the proper alignment and control of your core. Remember that optimal stability will improve your posture and running more significantly than will having great flexibility without the requisite stability.