Hi! I am your latissimus dorsi muscle, the broadest muscle in your entire back. My Latin name reveals my roots: latissimus meaning broadest, and dorsum meaning back. But, like most of my body builder friends, you can call me “lats” for short.

Your lats are involved in more movements than you might think.
Your lats are involved in more movements than you might think.

So what do I do for a living? My day job entails extending the shoulders, adducting the shoulders and medially rotating the shoulders at the glenohumeral joints. My work is no small feat considering how many bodies use me to pull their arms back or raise their arms overhead (like a cheerleader creating a “V” shape with her arms- V for Victory!).

I also do some work on the side. You may have heard of me in such synergistic roles as “Half Moon” or “Gate Pose.” No? Well, they are bit parts where during yoga postures I am called to laterally flex or arch the spine to one side.  And children love me in my “Pull up on the Monkey Bars at the School Playground” action.   Those are lesser roles, but given that I bypass the scapulothoracic joints and attach directly to the spine, I influence the movement of the scapulae. In other words, without me, the whole process of pulling down your arms, or waving your arms during your favorite Zumba class would just go awry.

So the next time you are admiring your back in all its glory, remember it’s your good buddy “lats” that plays the leading role.

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