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how to foam roll lats

Using the foam roller for your lats can be painful so I hope you’re ready!  

It’s one of my favorite areas to foam roll on my upper body and although it can hurt, it does a great job of breaking up the tissue in your latissimus dorsi.

To learn how to foam roll lats, I’ll provide you with a detailed breakdown of the movement, how long you should spend on that area, and the make up of your lats.

How To Foam Roll Lats

To foam roll your latissimus dorsi, you’ll be targeting one side at a time.  

Here’s how to perform the movement:

  • Lying on your side, position the foam roller under your armpit so it’s perpendicular to your body.
  • If you touch the area under your armpit, you’ll notice a meaty feeling area.  That’s your lats and where the foam roller should be placed.
  • Once you have the foam roller in position, slightly open your chest by twisting your body towards the roof.
  • Slowly begin rolling back and forth on your lats.  Depending on the length of your lats, you’ll foam roll your lats about 6 - 12 inches both ways.
  • As I mentioned in the intro, this area can be tight and tender so it might hurt a bit!

How Long You Should Foam Roll Your Lats

A proper lat foam roll will last around 30 - 60 seconds per side.

If one lat feels tighter and more painful than another, feel free to spend extra time on that side.  You can increase the time or roll it out 2 - 3 times per day. 

It’s important to add stretches into your routine in conjunction with your latissimus dorsi foam rolling.

Where The Lat Muscles Connect That You'll Be Targeting

Your lats run down the side of your body and connect at your vertebrae, hip, and shoulder.

They help you stabilize your back and extend your shoulders.

One of the great things about your lats is that they are easily visible with proper training.  Although they are easily visible with good training, they are often hard to feel and connect to during specific back exercises.

Check out this guide, How To Feel Your Lats, if you are someone who has trouble feeling them during workouts. 

I’ve designed a couple different back workouts that will target your lats if you want to try them out.

The Best Back Workout With Dumbbells Only

An Effective Back Workout Designed For Beginners 

Why You Should Foam Roll Your Lats

The benefit of foam rolling your lats include:

  • Helping alleviate upper back pain.
  • Getting you primed for an upper back workout.
  • Loosening up tightness in that area.


In addition to your lat foam roll, you can also target your mid and upper back for a well rounded session.

how to foam roll lats main cues

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Are My Lats Tight?

There are many reasons why your lats will become tight such as:

  • Injury sustained to your back or shoulder.
  • Excessive exercise.
  • Improper form during exercise.
  • Lack of stretching & mobility work.
  • Poor posture


If you can pinpoint why your lats are tight, you can take the proper action to correcting it along with foam rolling your lats.

Can Tight Lats Cause Poor Posture?

Yes, tight lats can cause poor posture.  Not being able to full lengthen your lats will cause them to stay in a shortened position, which can round your shoulders forward.

To fix this you want to foam roll your lats, stretch your lats and shoulders, and strengthen your lats and upper back muscles.

How To Foam Roll Lats Recap

A solid lat foam rolling session will last between 30 - 60 seconds on each side and will really dig into the meaty part of your lats.

Take your time rolling and spend a few extra seconds in certain areas if it’s more tender than others.

Pair your latissimus dorsi foam rolling with stretches and strengthening exercises for a strong, stable, pain free back.