The freestanding practice helps students whose lats are fairly loose to lengthen them even more. You'll know that you belong to this group if yonr hands reached the floor before you felt much of a stretch when you practiced the reclining arm-elevation test at the beginning of this article. In that case, to get a strong lat stretch, you have to move your arms even farther hack, so they end up behind your head.
This is impossible to do lying on the floor, but you can do it as follows. Stand with your hack against a wall, externally rotate your arms as far as you can, and reach them overhead until you can press your palms into the wall. Step forward a few inches, maintaining the same alignment with your hands off the wall. Then —without arching your hack, poking your lower ribs out in front, or moving your hips forward — reach your arms still higher and farther back until your palms press into the wall again. This baekbend-ing movement of the shoulders is the same movement required in poses like Downward-Facing Dog Pose and Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow Pose). To make it work, put extra effort into maintaining the rotation of your upper arms, because losing rotation would unwind the upper latissimus muscle from the humerus, putting slack on it.
GIVE YOURSELF PROPS Whether your lats are loose or tight, the second method deepens your stretch more effectively by using props to align and stabilize your arms. Here is a good way to do rhis. Kneel on a folded blanket
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