Latissimus Dorsi Muscle Pain And Trigger Points

 

In trained persons the latissimus dorsi muscle is responsible for the beautiful V shape of the back. But if it is tight or contains trigger or tender points, it may be your source for mid back and lower shoulder blade pain.

Content

Pain Zone

Attachment Points

Function

Overuse

Impaired Movements

Palpation

Self-Massage

Pain Zone


When trigger points are present in your latissimus, they can give you pain right at their location and send pain to other, seemingly unrelated areas of your body.


The upper trigger point – X1, shown under “Attachment Points” – very often may give you a painful lower shoulder blade and mid back pain. Furthermore pain can radiate over your shoulder blade and down the backside of your arm till it reaches your 4th and 5th finger. Although not shown in the pictures, you also could experience pain at the inner side of your arm and hand – also 4th and 5th finger –.


The lower trigger point – X2 – mainly sends pain to the front of your shoulder and to the side of your body just above your hip.


Your latissimus dorsi muscle can contribute to the following pains:


The darker the red in the pictures below, the more common it is that you experience pain in those areas when trigger points in your latissimus are present.



Latissimus Attachment Points


The latissimus dorsi muscle is pretty big and covers quite some surface on your back. It consists of three parts that all run into the same direction/attachment point.


  • Pars iliaca. Starts at the hip
  • Pars costalis: Starts at the ribs
  • Pars scapularis: Starts at the shoulder blade


All three parts run to the tuberculum minor at the humerus, which is located at the upper front of your upper arm.



Latissimus Function


This latissimus dorsi muscle has quite some functions. It adducts your arm, extends your shoulder and rotates it inwardly. Because it is such a powerful adductor of your arm it helps to compress your thorax/chest when coughing – both, the left and the right lat contract –.


Adduction


Extension


Inward Rotation


Latissimus Dorsi Overuse And Trigger Point Development


Here, especially movements are to mention that involve heavy pulling or throwing. Such movements occur a lot in rock climbing, gymnastics, strength training or ball games.



But also if you are not an athlete involved in the sports mentioned above and have pain at your mid back and/or lower shoulder blade, you might want to check your latissimus for tender and trigger points.


Impaired Or Painful Movements


Usually, tight muscles that contain trigger or tender points, impair certain movements or make them painful. Mostly those movements are the ones where the muscle has to work/shorten or the ones where it gets stretched.



The latissimus however is somewhat special here. It will not give you too much trouble while using it, even if it is tight or has trigger or tender points. This way you might not really feel that something is wrong with this muscle. If there are any movements that may be painful, then those are the ones where you reach in front and above – thus stretch your latissimus –.


Latissimus Dorsi Palpation


The latissimus dorsi muscle is a real no brainer as it is so big that it is nearly impossible to miss it. Just let your arm hang loose and then press it against your body. Keep up the tension and feel with your other arm the latissimus dorsi, especially at the height of your upper arm.



Slowly move your hand up and down, from the hip to your upper arm and try to feel where the muscle runs.


Self-Massage Of The Latissimus Dorsi Muscle


You can use your hands or a tennis ball for massage.


Massage With Hands

For massaging your latissimus with your hands, search for tender or trigger points. When you encounter one, pinch and roll it slowly between your fingers. But be aware of not overdoing it here. Your hands have to work hard on this one.


It might be a good idea, to massage it first with your hands for a short time and then switch to the tennis ball. I heavily recommend not stressing your hands too much as you might strain them.


Massage With Tennis Ball


For tennis ball massage, lift your arm and place the ball on your latissimus. Then push against a wall and start to massage the tender spots.



Another painful spot is often found more on the lower part of the latissimus dorsi muscle and is massaged best with a ball.



References


Calais-German, Blandine. Anatomy of Movement. Seattle: Eastland Press, 1993. Print

Davies, Clair, and Davies, Amber. The Trigger Point Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide For Pain Relief. Oakland: New Harbinger Publications, Inc., 2004. Print

Simons, David G., Lois S. Simons, and Janet G. Travell. Travell & Simons' Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: The Trigger Point Manual. Baltimore, MD: Williams & Wilkins, 1999. Print.

Schünke, Michael., Schulte, Erik, and Schumacher, Udo. Prometheus: Lernatlas der Anatomie. Stuttgart/New York: Georg Thieme Verlag, 2007. Print


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