A powerful backhand requires a relaxed back.
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Your lat muscles cover a large portion of both the right and left sides of your back. Fan-like in appearance, they extend from your lower back, through the mid-back and along the sides and up to the armpit. Though you may not feel it, your lats are working during numerous upper body movements, such as when reaching for something over your head, hitting a tennis ball or pushing yourself up from a reclined position. When the lats are tight or tense, the discomfort can be quick to set in and your body alignment can become compromised. Releasing the tightness with targeted stretches can help your back to relax.
Warm up by performing 10 minutes of cardiovascular exercise, such as jogging or cycling. Stretching cold muscles can cause an injury. Complete two 10-repetition sets of bodyweight rows to activate your lat muscles.
Stretch to the side to release your lats. Stand tall with an elongated spine and stack your shoulders over your hips. Pull your stomach in toward your lower back and slide the shoulder blades down your upper back. Raise your hands toward the ceiling while keeping your arms in line with your ears. Lean your torso to the right, gently. You should feel a stretch on the left side of your back. Hold the stretch for five seconds and return to starting position. Repeat on the other side by leaning your torso to the left. Repeat for five to 10 rounds.
Bend forward and place your hands on a table to stretch your back. Stand approximately 2 feet in front of a table with your feet separated by hip-width. Pull your abdominal muscles in toward your spine to protect your lower back. Slightly lift your chest and slide your shoulder blades down. Shift your weight to your heels and slightly bend your knees. Bend forward at the hips and lower your torso until it is parallel to the floor. Stretch your arms over your head, keeping them in line with your ears, and place your hands on the table in front of you. Extend your hips back while keeping your legs in place. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and release.
Perform lat stretches after every workout session, or whenever the muscles feel tense, to maintain a relaxed back.
Stretch with gentle movements and avoid pushing your muscles to stretch beyond their natural ability.
Keep your knees soft to avoid locking them out in both stretches.
Discontinue stretching if you feel any pain in your back. Consult with a physician about your pain or any back issues that you may be experiencing. Ask your doctor's advice regarding the correct way to incorporate a stretching program into your fitness routine.