Lat stretch on all fours

This position is a great stretch for your latissimus dorsi — the largest muscle in your back. Even though this muscle is located on your back, it attaches to your arm; therefore, you need to reach with your arms to fully stretch this muscle. Also, your lats attach to your lower back, so tightness in this muscle can create pain and imbalance in your lower back. As you reach in this stretch, you feel your muscles stretch on each side of your back.

When doing this stretch, follow these steps:

1. Begin with your knees and your hands on the floor (you may want to use an exercise mat to cushion your hands and knees).

2. Exhale and reach your arms straight forward and lower your chest toward the floor, keeping your hips higher than your shoulders (see Figure 4-8a).

3. Inhale, exhale, and move your shoulders and arms toward the right as far as you can reach and still keep your hips anchored to the ground (see Figure 4-8b).

4. Hold for 30 seconds or four to five slow, deep breaths and then move back to center position.

5. Repeat the same stretch but reach to the left instead.

A few do's and don'ts for this stretch:

1 Do feel a slight arch in your back.

1 Do press your chest toward the floor and keep your hips high. 1 Do progress through the stretch gradually and slowly.

i Don't round your back. i Don't move your hips.

i Don't round your back. i Don't move your hips.

Figure 4-8:

Upper back stretch for your lats.

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