Teres Major is often referred to as the Lats ‘little helper’. Synergists, Latissimus Dorsi and Teres Major work together to perform the same actions of the glenohumeral joint (shoulder): Extension, Adduction, and Medial (inward) Rotation.
The Latissimus Dorsi is the largest muscle of the back, and it’s main function is movement of the upper limb. It originates in the mid back thoracic region ; the thoracolumbar fascia, and iliac crest (hip bone). It inserts into the humerus (bone of the upper arm).
Teres Major lays between the Lats and Teres Minor on the lateral (outside) border of the scapula (shoulder blade).
Some of the Movements of the Shoulder are:
Latissimus and Teres Major also medially rotate the shoulder.
A few activities that use the Latissimus Dorsi (and to a lesser extent Teres Major) are: Swimming, rowing, and climbing rope.
Stretches For Latissimus Dorsi and Teres Major
Get more from your stretch with Mindfulness, Intention, and Breath
Standing Hands Clasped Over Head:
Stand with your feet parallel about hip width apart. Clasp your hands and place them above your head with palms facing the ceiling. Drop your pelvis, tail bone straight down toward the floor. Chest, shoulders open. Ears ease back in line with your shoulders.
Feel the bottoms of your feet like a tripod. Feel the balls of the big toes, little toes, and heels on the floor.
Breathe and think about stretching your elbows straight and reaching your palms toward the ceiling. Increase the stretch by bending side.
Variation 2: Cross one hand over wrist to guide yourself into more of a stretch.
Sitting Side Stretch:
While this side stretch targets Quadratus Lumborum, it also stretches the lats and teres along the outer border of the scapula and back. Sit cross legged on a mat. Drop your shoulders down and feel that the two shoulders are level. Open chest and shoulders. Head draws back so the ears are in line with the shoulders.
If you feel discomfort sitting cross legged (perhaps your knees are high as opposed to closer to the floor; therefore forcing you to lean back) you can place 1 or 2 folded blankets underneath your sit bones. Your feet will of course need to be off the folded blankets as you want your sit bones to be higher.
Bending to the side, bring one arm over the head and the other at your side on the floor, palm down. Breath and feel the length along the outer border of your scapula and sides of back. You can increase the stretch by placing the forearm on the floor. Look down towards the floor or straight forward as you bend side then slowly turn your gaze to look up (refer to the image above). Breathe.
Having straightened up to the beginning position, keep the arm above your head for a few more deep breaths. Enjoy the feeling of length from your seat on the floor to your finger tips — then lower the arm and begin the side bend to the other side.
Begin by kneeling on a mat in front of a chair. Place your hands shoulder width apart on the chair’s seat. Lower your torso and head below shoulder level as pictured above. Feel the length in your back, along the lateral (outside) border of your scapula (shoulder blade), and out through your fingertips (they of course are still placed on the chair). Following a few or more breaths you can take your hands off the chair and lower all the way down to child’s pose. An exercise ball can be used in place of a chair as seen in the photograph.
Body Alignment: Mindful alignment makes for more effective stretching. It also helps in injury prevention. A few alignment reminders:
Suggested External Links:
Why Is Breathing Important During Stretching?:
Latissimus Dorsi Muscle – Attachments, Action & Innervation: