Neck Pain / Low Back Pain – Your “Lats” May Be Causing It

"Lats" - Latissimus Dorsi Muslce - bnchiro.comYour neck pain or low back pain may be caused by the overworking of your lats muscles.

The latissimus dorsi muscle (commonly called “lats”) is the most powerful muscle of the back. When this muscle gets overworked, it often shortens. When this “shortening” happens, you often end up having lower back pain and pain at the base of your neck.

IF YOU’RE NOT AN ANATOMY JUNKIE, SKIP THIS PARAGRAPH: The latissimus dorsi muscle originates from your lumbar fascia, lower thoracic spine, and pelvic bone. The main role of this muscle is to bring the arm into extension and adduction (closer to the body).  It also is an internal rotator of the shoulder joint. ANATOMY CLASS OVER.

You put stress on this muscle when you do activities that involve rowing, throwing, or pulling something down over your head (like when you do pull-ups). The “Lat” muscle is an important stabilizer and acts as a bridge between the lower back and the neck. Because this muscle is so large, the neck and the entire middle and lower back may have to be treated in order to get this muscle back to where it should be.

Weight training MUST be carefully controlled because of the importance of this muscle.

To increase the power of this muscle, the following exercises might be a good fit:

  • deadlift
  • chin-up and pull-up
  • one handed dumbbell-rows
  • pull-over
  • pull-down (be careful not to elevate your shoulders too much)


– Dr. Shepard

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