Last week we covered the shoulder rotators. This week, we'll move directly down from there to the latissimus dorsi muscle, better known as the lats. Improving your lats mobility will help in overhead positioning, i.e. getting your arms extended overhead. "Why is he talking about overhead positioning for dragon boat?" you may be asking yourself. Well if you think about it, the A-frame setup is essentially an overhead position. We tend to focus on getting more extension by rotating more, but we can also get extension by getting better in the overhead position and reaching our arms as far out as possible. Some paddlers actually bend their top arm in an effort to compensate for poor overhead mobility. So work on your lats and you may lose your bent elbow!
A quick anatomy lesson
|Lats highlighted in red. Picture courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.|
First lie down (on your back) on the ground. Bend your knees at 90 degrees and plant your feet to the ground. Adjust your back so that your lower back is on the floor; you shouldn't see or feel a gap between your lower back and the floor. Reach your arms straight up to the ceiling. Keeping your arms completely locked out, slowly drop them overhead as far as them will go without forcing (and remember to keep your lower back on the ground the whole time!). If your hands can reach the floor, then you have pretty good lats mobility. If your entire arm can lie flat on the floor, then you have outstanding lats mobility. If your arms are floating in the air, then you have tight lats but the following exercises will help you with that.
The exercises (4 options)
There are multiple ways to work on those lats and I'm going to go through 4 different options: 1 with a foam roller, two with a lacrosse ball, and one with just your body.
|Foam roll on lats|
|Lacrosse ball smash|
|Standing lacrosse ball smash and roll|
|Modified triceps stretch|