“Lats” & friends

Lats and friends

We usually forget that lats belong to another muscle group, the superficial back muscles. They originate from the vertebral column and attach to the bones of the shoulder – the clavicle, scapula, and humerus. All these muscles are therefore associated with movements of the upper limb. The muscles in this group are the latissimus dorsi, trapezius, levator scapulae and the rhomboids.

The latissimus dorsi is the larger, flat, dorsolateral muscle on the trunk, posterior to the arm, and partly covered by the trapezius on its median dorsal region.

Origin:

  1. Spinous process of T7-L5.
  2. Upper 2-3 sacral segments.
  3. Iliac crest.
  4. Lower 3 or 4 ribs.

Insertion:

Lateral lip of the intertubercular groove.

It is responsible for extension, adduction, horizontal abduction, flexion from an extended position, and (medial) internal rotation of the shoulder joint. It also has a synergistic role in extension and lateral flexion of the lumbar spine.
Pain and symptoms associated with the Latissimus Dorsi muscle
– Pain is felt in the mid-back especially below the bottom of the shoulder blade.
– Pain is felt in the front of the shoulder.
– Pain in the side and or mid-back similar to a side stitch.
– Numbness, tingling and/or aching that extends down the arm to the little finger and often the ring finger.
– Pain while reaching forward with the arms
– Pain when lifting arms overhead
– Can contribute to breathing difficulty.
– Pain does not worsen with activity nor does it ease at rest, it is steady and constant.
Activities that can cause latissimus dorsi pain
– Activities that require continuously or repeatedly raising the shoulders
– Gymnastics
– Rowing
– Throwing or pitching a ball
– Swimming
– Swinging a baseball bat
– Swinging a tennis racket
– Shoveling dirt or snow
– Chopping wood
– Exercise that requires pulling up (chin up) or pushing down (push-ups) with the arms
– Reaching forward or overhead repetitiously

The trapezius is a broad, flat and triangular muscle. The muscles on each side form a trapezoid shape. It is the most superficial of all the back muscles.

 

Origin:

  1. External occipital protuberance.
  2. Along the medial sides of the superior nuchal line.
  3. Ligamentum nuchae (surrounding the cervical spinous processes).
  4. Spinous processes of C1-T12.

Insertion:

  1. Posterior, lateral 1/3 of clavicle.
  2. Acromion.
  3. The superior spine of the scapula.
It has three functional regions:
  1. Superior (descending part), which supports the weight of the arm.
  2. Intermediate (transverse part), which retracts the scapulae.
  3. Inferior (ascending part), which medially rotates and depresses the scapulae.
Contraction of the trapezius muscle can have two effects:
  1. Movement of the scapulae when the spinal origins are stable.
  2. Movement of the spine when the scapulae are stable. Its main function is to stabilize and move the scapula.
Pain and symptoms associated with the Trapezius muscle
– Headache in the temple area
– Pain in the jaw that travels down into the neck and over behind the ear
– Pain behind one eye
– Tension headache
– Contributes to dizziness
– Pain at the base of the skull
– Stiff neck
– Ache or burning sensation in the middle of the back
– Pain or tingling during raising or lowering the arms
Activities that cause pain and symptoms in the trapezius
– Whiplash
– Lifting heavy objects
– Working with your arms out in front of you (computer, playing the piano, driving)
– Keeping your shoulders rolled forward or pulled up
– Carrying a heavy purse or backpack on one shoulder
– Large breasts

The levator scapulae is a small strap-like muscle. It elevates the scapula.

Origin:

Transverse processes of C1-C3 or C4.

Insertion:

The superior angle of scapula toward the scapular spine.

Pain and symptoms associated with the Levator Scapulae muscle
– Pain at the slope of the neck and shoulder
– Stiff neck, difficulty turning head to look over the shoulder
– Headaches at the base of the skull
– Occasionally pain from the top of the shoulder blade extending to the middle of the shoulder blade
Activities that cause pain or symptoms of the levator scapulae muscle
– Keeping head turned to one side ie. Sleeping on stomach, holding phone to ear with shoulder
– Sleeping without proper head support
– Acute upper respiratory infection will cause the levator scapulae to shorten and become stiff and painful
– Painting overhead for extended periods
– Carrying heavy backpacks or purses
– Whiplash
– Forward head posture

There are two rhomboid muscles, major and minor. The rhomboid major helps to hold the scapula (and thus the upper limb) onto the ribcage. Together with the rhomboid major, the rhomboid minor retracts the scapula when trapezius is contracted. Acting as an antagonist to the trapezius, the rhomboid major and minor elevate the scapula medially and upward, working in tandem with the levator scapulae muscle to rotate the scapulae downward. While other shoulder muscles are active, the rhomboid major and minor stabilize the scapula.

Rhomboid major:

Origin:

  1. Spinous processes of T2-T5.
  2. Supraspinous ligament.

Insertion:

Medial scapula from the scapular spine to the inferior angle

Rhomboid minor:

Origin:

  1. Spinous process of C7 & T1.
  2. Ligamentum nuchae.
  3. Supraspinous ligament.

Insertion:

Medial margin of the scapula at the medial angle

Pain and symptoms associated with the Rhomboid Major and Minor muscles
– Pain along the inside of the shoulder blade especially noticeable at rest.
– Popping and/or grinding noise when moving the shoulder blade
– Inability to straighten the upper body out of a slumped position
Activities that can cause rhomboid muscle pain
– Activities that require continuously or repeatedly raising the shoulders
– Hanging wallpaper
– Rowing
– Throwing a ball
– Pull Ups
– Extended work at the computer
– Military posture: standing with extremely straight posture with shoulders pulled back, chest thrust forward.

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22 thoughts on ““Lats” & friends”

      1. I’m glad but I seriously love to learn more about the body and it’s muscles… I’m like really into the gym and fitness stuff so I like doing research. And I’m glad thay I came across tour site 😃

  1. Great post! and super informative!
    I actually have trouble touching my toes and many people attribute it to my hamstrings, but I also think that my back has issues too when it comes to flexibility.
    I’m not sure whether to focus more of my stretching efforts on my back or my hamstrings. Any Suggestions for that?

    https://kristopheruy.wordpress.com/

    1. Thank you :) Nice to meet you, Kris. Believe it or not, I had this very same issue. This is not a problem related with a specific muscle (hamstrings or back). Several muscle groups are involved bending the torso. Yoga worked great for me: Lotus pose is the best hip opener I´ve ever met. Try some sun salutations that you can do “easy” for a couple of weeks and tell me if you notice any difference. IMPORTANT: Don´t force it (this is yoga´s first commandment, and it works). Big hug, David

      1. I got some stuff from my coach in the US, Dr. Jason Han of The Juice Compound, but I’m excited to try anything that will help get me there faster!
        I’ll try incorporating that in my next recovery routine! Thanks!!

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Lower Leg

The gastrocnemius and the soleus form what we know as calf. They are involved in activities such as walking, running, jumping… 

Hamstrings

A hamstring is any one of the three posterior thigh muscles in between the hip and the knee (from medial to lateral: semimembranosus, semitendinosus and biceps femoris). The hamstrings are quite susceptible to injury.

Quadriceps

The Quadriceps Femoris is the knee extensor muscle.  As a group, the quadriceps femoris is crucial in walking, running, jumping and squatting. It´s subdivided into four separate “heads”.

Glutes

The gluteal muscles are a group of three muscles which make up the buttocks: the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius and gluteus minimus. The three muscles originate from the ilium and sacrum and insert on the femur. The functions of the muscles include extension, abduction, external rotation, and internal rotation of the hip joint.

Lower Back

The Erector Spinae is not just one muscle, but a bundle of muscles and tendons. Paired, they run more or less vertically. It extends throughout the lumbar, thoracic and cervical regions, and lies in the groove to the side of the vertebral column.

Obliques

The External Oblique is situated on the lateral and anterior parts of the abdomen. It is broad, thin, and irregularly quadrilateral. It is the largest and the most superficial (outermost) of the three flat muscles of the lateral anterior abdomen. 

Abs

The Rectus Abdominis is the most superficial of the abdominal muscles. It is this muscle which forms the six-pack shape! It is a paired muscle running vertically on each side of the anterior wall of the abdomen. There are two parallel muscles, separated by a midline band of connective tissue called the linea alba.

Pecs

The pectoralis major makes up the bulk of the chest muscles in the male and lies under the breast in the female.

The pectoralis minor is a thin, triangular muscle, situated at the upper part of the chest, beneath the pectoralis major. 

Forearm
(Posterior muscles)

The Extensor Digitorum muscle helps in the movements of the wrists and the elbows. It extends the phalanges, then the wrist, and finally the elbow. It acts principally on the proximal phalanges. It tends to separate the fingers as it extends them.

Forearm
(Anterior muscles)

The Pronator teres pronates the forearm, turning the hand posteriorly. If the elbow is flexed to a right angle, then pronator teres will turn the hand so that the palm faces inferiorly. It is assisted in this action by pronator quadratus.

Triceps

The Triceps Brachii muscles  have three muscle heads: Lateral, Medial and Long head. Primarily responsible for the extension of the elbow joint. The lateral head is used for movements requiring occasional high-intensity force, while the medial fascicle enables more precise, low-force movements.

Biceps

The Biceps brachii is  actually two separate bundles of muscles (heads). The two heads of the Biceps vary in length and as a result, are called the Short and the Long Biceps heads.

Infraspinatus

The Infraspinatus muscle is one of the four rotator cuff muscles crossing the shoulder joint and is commonly injured. It is the main external rotator of the shoulder joint.

Deltoids

The Deltoid muscle is the muscle forming the rounded contour of the shoulder. It is divided into three portions, anterior, lateral and posterior, with the fibers having different roles due to their orientation.

Latissimus Dorsi

The latissimus dorsi is the larger, flat, dorsolateral muscle on the trunk, posterior to the arm, and partly covered by the trapezius on its median dorsal region.

Trapezius

The trapezius is a broad, flat and triangular muscle. The muscles on each side form a trapezoid shape. It is the most superficial of all the back muscles.

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