Foam Rolling Lats: Benefits & How To Do It Properly

Foam rollers work on your connective fibrous tissues, which are called fascia. These form a spider’s web of collagen that helps to support the structure of your internal organs and muscles. Keeping these fascia maintained with a foam roller is almost like brushing your hair. Regular foam roller use will prevent troublesome knots and keep your range of movement at its maximum. 

In the following guide, we will show you how to foam roll lats the right way and what the benefits will look like for you. 

Your lat muscles, or your Latissimus Dorsi, are a triangular slab of back muscles. These essential muscles assist with everything from breathing and swimming to key bodybuilding activities like pull-ups. They function by stabilizing your back and helping to extend your shoulders.  

If your goal is a healthy body and a high level of fitness, the lats cannot be ignored. They are essential to mobility, range of motion, good posture and can easily become short and overactive if neglected, leading to the opposite of all the good things listed above. 

One great way to keep your lats in shape easily is by utilizing a foam roller. Rollers provide a self-myofascial release (often abbreviated to SMR) by using your body weight to massage your muscles and soft tissues into increased mobility and flexibility. 

woman in a gray sports bra showing her back muscles

Benefits Of Foam Rolling Your Lats 

Properly foaming your lats should be a core part of the workout schedule of any fitness enthusiast.  

Not only does rolling your lats help to build and maximize the efficiency and capability of your body, but it also works to correct and relieve those parts of your body that come under strain from the exertion of a tight workout schedule.  

Fitness is a marathon, not a sprint, and maintaining your body as an athlete is as important as improving it.  

The benefits of foam rolling lats include: 

  • Corrects Muscle Imbalances 
    When it comes to working out, repetitive motions are the name of the game. Unfortunately, these can cause a cycle of inflammation, muscle spasms, and soft tissue development that can alter the development of your muscles and throw you critically off balance. One of our favorite foam rolling lats benefits is that this worry becomes a thing of the past!
  • Improves Range Of Motion 
    Strength is one aspect of a fit body, but flexibility and mobility are not only important but also make your workouts more effective. Foam rolling can be incorporated as an effective warm-up or cooldown exercise to keep pushing your range of motion to the maximum. 
  • Relieves Muscle Soreness & Joint Stress 
    We have all heard that there is no gain without pain, but putting unnecessary strain and damage on our bodies can negate these well-earned gains. When foam rolling lats, painful overexerted areas will be looked after appropriately, and you will feel the benefits of pain relief and the continued ability to push your body to its limits in a sustainable fashion. 
  • Maintains Functional Muscular Length 
    If you neglect your lats, they can quickly become shorter in length and overworked. This has a negative impact on both your overall range of motion and your day-to-day posture. By maintaining functional muscular length with a foam rolling lats regime, you will not have sculpted your body just to stop!
  • Improves Neuromuscular Efficiency 
    The body is a complex machine, and the knots and tightness that form with repeated actions in your muscles have a reciprocal impact on your brain. The neural feedback from a reduced range of motion also degrades the neuromuscular efficiency of that movement pattern in your brain, compounding any fatigue, pain, and injury. By stopping tightness and knots, foam rolling your lats keeps your brain’s neuromuscular efficiency safe.

Is your garage gym lacking a foam roller? If so, consider checking out our guide to the best foam roller for lats on the market at the minute! 

woman using a blue foam roller on her lats

How To Successfully Foam Roll Lats 

So, you know the benefits; now I can hear you asking how to foam roll your lats to get the most out of your body.  

Below, you will find our foam roll lats written instructions to ensure you get it right first time, every time: 

  1. 1
    Lie down on your side on the ground, with your arm raised above your head at a 45-degree angle and the foam roller by your armpit.  
  2. 2
    Have a play-around with the foam roller at a few different angles and positions. You could move the roller towards your stomach or roll yourself back. Basically, you are looking for sore or tight muscle spots on your body.  
  3. 3
    Once you have found anywhere that feels sore or tight, roll the foam roller up and down, and then again from side to side. Once you find a spot, use the roller here for between 30 seconds to a minute. It should be quite uncomfortable, but the compression here will help it become more mobile in no time. If a place is particularly sore, try taking your arm from 45-degrees above your head to 90-degree one. 
  4. 4
    Now it is time to return to step 2, explore with your roller again and find another spot that feels sore or tight and repeat the process. 
  5. 5
    Once you have treated each aggravated lat with foam roller techniques in this way ten times, you should already start feeling a significant improvement in terms of mobility and pain level.  

Now that you know the method, the only question that remains is: how often should you foam roll your lats? 

The answer really depends on the person in question, as some bodies will need more attention than others. As a baseline, we would recommend you foam roll your lats at least 3 times per week.  

However, if you are experiencing a high level of muscle tightness or muscle pain, you can increase this to as much as 3 times per day. Remember, though, increase this regiment gradually and pay attention to any increases in pain level that can be a result of increasing lat rolling frequency too quickly. 


When Should You Foam Roll Lats? 

The most important thing about reaping the benefits of foam rolling lats is consistency, not the exact time of day you choose to do your rolling. 

That being said, the most effective time to do your rolling routine is as a lat stretch foam roller warm-up. This way, your flexibility and range of movement will be optimized for your workout, and the routine will keep you working away at those problem areas every time you exercise. If you are experiencing general muscle tightness, we recommend stretching as well.

It is also nice to foam roll after a workout, especially a vigorous one, to help soothe those overexerted areas. Many people do both! As foaming rolling acts as both a warm-up and a cooldown, it does not necessarily matter whether you roll in the morning or evening, simply that you keep it consistent.  

Once you become aware of where the pain and tightness in your muscles are, it is easy to tell when you need to pay particular attention to a specific place. Anywhere that feels sore or restricted in any way should be targeted, and you can increase the regularity of your foam rolling depending on the severity of your discomfort. Similarly, you can tell if you are progressing with your rolling by attempting a movement both before and after rolling and noting the difference in mobility.  

There are times when you should not foam roll, however. This is especially when soreness occurs in a bony area (where your roller is ineffective) or if you are experiencing a lot of pain when rolling an area. If the pain level is too high, you could be exacerbating the injury instead of improving it. 

woman foam rolling her lats with an orange foam roller

People Also Ask (FAQs)

Should I stretch or foam roll first? 

You should always attempt to foam roll your muscles before stretching, whether before or after your workout. Think about the activity you are going to do/have just done and target the same muscle groups. 

Should you foam roll lower lats into the obliques? 

While incredibly effective for lat upkeep, these muscles are not the only thing you can use your foam roller for.  

For truly excellent muscle balance and maintenance, you can use your foam roller on your obliques, as well as other problem areas such as your quads, hip flexors, calves, hamstrings, upper back, and shoulders! 

What happens if you foam roll every day? 

If you are committed to the discipline of foam rolling every day and your technique is good, you will quickly notice that you are more flexible, your joints are more mobile, and you should experience much less muscle pain and stiffness. You should even notice the difference in your posture! 

However, be aware that it may take some people a little bit of time to adjust to lat rolling every day. Do not jump straight from zero to one hundred. Build up your regiment slowly from a couple of times per week to every day to avoid overdoing it. 

What size foam roller should you use for your lats? 

For the most effective foam roller for your lats, you will want to pick one that is around 90 cm or 36-inches in length. The length of this will allow you to use the roller perpendicular with your back without worrying about falling off the end.  

As with many workout activities, everybody is different, and you may be able to find a longer foam roller than the standard largest 36-inch model if you feel you need a little bit extra. 


Conclusion

So, to wrap up, we hope you have learned why it is important to properly maintain the balance of your body while you build it. Foam rolling is an excellent way to ensure that your gains are not being canceled out by wear and tear and that you continue to develop that essential flexibility and joint mobility! 

Last Updated on November 10, 2021