OK, so how do we figure out if tight lats are a problem? My favorite way to test for tight lats is the shoulder flexion wall test. This is a super easy way to not only quantify the amount of tightness in your lats, but also to track progress after implementing a stretching program. All you need for this is a flat wall, your iphone, and a friend.
What’s normal? As with all things, circus artists have a different standard of normal, and it depends on what you do. If you’re a trampoline artist, or a tumbler, you may not need a ton of flexibility in your lats. However, if you’re an aspiring hand balancer, contortionist, or aerialist, it is VITAL that you not only have adequate lat flexibility, but also can control that flexibility with the rest of the muscles surrounding your shoulder girdle. For circus artists that fit the latter description, I recommend at least an angle of 180 degrees of active range of motion. However, the best way to determine your specific needs and goals is to obviously see a sports medicine provider- there isn’t a one size fits all answer!
YOUR TASK before the next post- take (and maybe measure?!) your lat photo! Where do you fall on the 180 degree spectrum?
The next post will be dedicated to my favorite lat stretches and exercises to avoid injury caused by dysfunction in this muscle!
Questions, comments, or your favorite "I hate my lats" stories can be directed below in the "comments" section!