Muscle Variations You Didn’t Know Existed - Latissimus Dorsi

The broadest and the biggest muscles present at the back of the human body is called the Latissimus Dorsi. The primary function of the latissimus dorsi is to help a person lift their arms as they try to reach out for something, especially overhead. 

The latissimus dorsi muscles are involved in functions beyond extending the shoulders which include:

  • Internal rotation of the torso 
  • Supporting the stability of the core muscles. 

For those who perform pull-ups regularly, a complete set of pull-ups and lifting exercises of shoulders accomplish this by using a resistance band or a machine. When a person uses resistance bands to complete shoulder exercises, they engage themselves in the strengthening of the latissimus dorsi muscles. 

Quick Facts 

The immediate cause of lower back pain and shoulder pain resulting in chronic inflammation is winding up the tight latissimus dorsi muscles due to overuse or too little stretching. 

  • For beginners who are yet to perform any form of strength exercises, it is best to focus on the latissimus dorsi muscles. The two muscles are responsible for connecting the spine to the humerus and tighten the muscles. It can help in the optimization of the glenohumeral joint function.
  • An improper glenohumeral joint function leads to chronic shoulder pain and often to a wear and tear off the shoulder tissues. It may also be a leading cause of tendonitis in the fasciae which is primarily connecting the thoracic cavity with the lumbar spine.
  • All things considered, the latissimus dorsi muscles perform at assisting the movement of arms and protecting the spine. Therefore, everyone engaging in stretching and lifting activities can benefit from incorporating latissimus dorsi exercises every day to improve stability, upper body strength, balance and a range of motions.

Understanding The Latissimus Dorsi Muscles

The two latissimus dorsi muscles are located at the center of the back. They are large size muscles usually flat and fitted along the posterior of the trapezius muscles in the arm and upper extremities. They are connected to the spine with the help of the latissimus dorsi muscles, responsible for overall strength, the stability of the whole trunk. 

The reason why a person is able to hold the back upright is because of the presence of the latissimus dorsi muscles. They play a part in preventing slouching and are used to maintain a good and balanced posture. The bottom area of the latissimus dorsi muscles extends upto the glutes near the tailbone and the lower back region when the lower back region involves twisting or rotational movement. 

These muscles get ungauged and make up for body strength, balance and general coordination. A complete exercise of the core muscles involves the latissimus dorsi muscles. A person may find it beneficial to improve strength and involvement in numerous motions of the body thereby making sure to stretch the dorsi muscles.  

Functions Of The Latissimus Dorsi Muscles

The latissimus dorsi muscles are not the only ones present in the upper back area. They are also accompanied by the erector spinae trapezius muscles. The functions of the latissimus dorsi muscles may include the following:

  • Adduction - In which a person is capable of moving the shoulder towards the midline and then perform a transverse extension. The ability of a person to move the shoulder midline is also termed as horizontal abduction. One of the most important functions of the latissimus dorsi muscles is to allow your shoulders to move towards the midline of the body.
  • When a person is standing upright the latissimus dorsi muscles help in completing reflexion in an extended position. This involves lateral flexion and extension of the lumbar spine where both the latissimus dorsi muscles contract and lengthen and conduct an upward and downward movement
  • The primary reason why a person is able to move the arms overhead, downward and backward is because of the presence of latissimus dorsi muscles. They are commonly used when people work with their arms from side to side so that the core is in track and upright.
  • The shoulder joint is capable of medial rotation, because of the presence of latissimus dorsi muscles which helps in removing the scapulae. 

Core Stability: Important For Overall Balance And Prevention Of Falls

Both the regions of the back- the outer back and the lower back are a part of the core muscles, which are an important component for maintaining a healthy and upright posture. In order to make the spine flexible, it is important to keep the core muscles strong. 

A weak back posture inclines towards poor muscle flexibility and is linked with different problems that a person may not even realize they have. This includes:

  • Digestive problems 
  • Respiratory distress 
  • Sleep apnea and 
  • Tingling in the extremities.

Athletic Performances And Exercises

A person performing athletic exercises involves motions of twisting and rotating the torso. This is a part of maintaining proper posture and preventing back pain during rotation. Rotation is largely supported by the latissimus dorsi muscles. 

When a person tries to lower their head down or twist and bend over, it is the latissimus dorsi muscles giving the maximum support. These muscles work together with the obliques and abdominal muscles and help the spine support. 

When the spine receives support from the muscles, a range of other motions and other movements can be incorporated without any hassle. 

People who are involved in golf, tennis, gymnastics, swimming, etc. may find it very important to maintain a perfect torso and also frequent episodes of rotation and twists. This is why a strong core is essential. It is therefore important to keep the latissimus dorsi muscles flexible so that the spine is never off stability. 

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The Latissimus Dorsi Muscles Region

The muscles are responsible for connecting to the teres major,  long head of the triceps and fibers of the deltoid. Not only these muscles but also all other stabilizing muscles responsible for holding the posture upright. 

  • The teres major muscle is positioned right above the latissimus dorsi muscles.
  • The upper back muscles partially cover the latissimus dorsi muscles which enter into a tubercular groove at the front of the humerus. Once they are partially covered, they connect to the deltoid and the rear of the shoulder.
  • The latissimus dorsi muscles primarily originate from the iliac crest present at the bottom of the spine.
  • The hip bones are the origination location of the latissimus dorsi muscles from where it connects to the thoracolumbar fascia.
  • The thoracolumbar fascia is composed of membranes that are three layers thick and cover the deep muscles beneath the back muscles 
  • The thoracolumbar fascia and latissimus dorsi together support the spine thereby, being supportive of interior 6 thoracic vertebrae and the four ribs.

Injuries That May Affect  Latissimus Dorsi Muscles

It is very important to keep the latissimus dorsi muscle stable. The ability of a person to walk and turn around can be affected when these muscles face any form of injury. 

Do not continue the activities below for long as these are known to cause serious injuries to the latissimus dorsi muscles.

  • Sitting for too long in a day.
  • Not conducting any exercises for the upper back and the mid back area that involve the arms to lift.
  • Poor posture resulting in back pain and reduced range of motions.

Risk factors of back pain include:

  • Usage of tobacco 
  • Sleeping in unsupported positions 
  • Lack of sleep 
  • Injury to the shoulder or lower back region of the spine that can prevent flexion-extension and adduction of the muscles 
  • Athletic activities that include wrestling or bodybuilding 

Side Effects From the Latissimus Dorsi Muscle Injuries

Shoulder pain any form of injury to the latissimus dorsi muscles may prevent the spine to connect to the humerus, therefore, it may result in tendonitis, pain and also frozen shoulder affecting the fasciae connective tissue.

Instability And Muscular Imbalances

Spinal abnormalities that involve postural problems because of latissimus dorsi muscle injuries along with muscular compensation for inactivities, can have pressure on the back area. This may contribute to a loss of balance and pressure on the spine.

Back pain is known for its enormous support to the lumbar regions and thoracic regions of the spine which are the two areas known for developing pain. 





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