Recovery with Foam Rolling Your Upper Back Lats

Recovery with Foam Rolling

Upper Sides of Your Back (your lats)

Reasons to consider mobilization (foam roller, lacrosse ball, trigger point cane, etc.):

  • Muscle soreness in the upper side of the back (lat area) from a recent workout
  • Limited motion or feeling of a “block” during overhead movements (e.g., overhead press)
  • Discomfort or pinching in the shoulder during overhead movements.

How to foam roll the lats:

  • Let’s say that you want to foam roll your RIGHT lat.
  • Place the foam roller on the ground in a horizontal position (side-to-side).  Lay down on your RIGHT side and place the foam roller about half of a hand’s width under your armpit. Avoid placing the foam roller directly in the middle of the armpit as this can cause numbness and tingling out into the arm.
  • “Karate chop” your arm straight out over your head.  Use your legs and LEFT arm for support so that you can comfortably put your weight on the foam roller.
  • Gently and slowly lean your body back as if you are about to lay on your back, but keep yourself from laying completely on your back. If you find a tender spot, hold it for about 10-15 seconds!
  • Now, gently and slowly lean your body back forward, returning back to the side-lying position in which you started. Again, if you find a tender spot, hold it for about 10-15 seconds!
  • When you are holding a tender spot, you can further intensify the mobilization by raising and lowering your RIGHT arm 2-3 times, kind of like your arm is a knife and you are using it to chop some parsley on the ground!
  • If, at any point, you experience numbness or tingling in your hand while foam rolling, ease yourself off of that spot with the foam roller and readjust to a different spot on the upper side of your back.
  • After you are done foam rolling, take the opportunity to stretch your newly mobilized lats!  Maybe try a kneeling preacher stretch on a bench!  If you do not know how to do this stretch, ask a trainer to show you.


  • In general, mobilizing tissue using a foam roller, lacrosse ball, trigger point cane, or another instrument will cause some discomfort; after all, the goal is to mobilize (move or “free-up”) the tissue from any restrictions that might be limiting your body’s movement or range of motion.  However, if you experience too much discomfort or pain, you should stop.
  • In general, you should not attempt to mobilize (foam roll, lacrosse ball, trigger point cane, etc.) a recent injury that has occurred within the past 48 hours.


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by Nick April, coach at Bent On Better

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