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Forward Bend Stretch – Rhomboids & Latissimus Dorsi (Part 2 of 3)

Here in part 2 of our posts on the Standing Forward Bend Stretch, we’ll continue our discussion on the muscles involved.

If you remember from the first post we’ve counted at least 13 muscles in executing the Standing Forward Bend.


Here they are:

  • Shoulders to Knees:  erector spinae, quadratus lumborum, gluteus maximus, hamstrings

  • Arms Forward:  infraspinatus, rhomboids, serratus anterior

  • Elbows Above the Head:  latissimus dorsi, teres minor & major

  • Feet Flexed: gastrocnemius, soleus, popliteus, flexor digitorum/hallicus longus


As you practice the Standing Forward Bend Stretch your arms fall forward and are “raised” so your elbows are above your head.  In order for your arms to comfortably “raise” to make these movements all of the muscles that normally bring your arms down from the lifted or forward positions need to relax so they can lengthen with ease.

Let’s first look at your rhomboids.  Your rhomboids main action is to pull your shoulder blades together.  In a stretch like a the forward bend if your rhomboids are tight as they are pulled away from the spine you may feel a burning sensation in the middle of your back as you bend forward.

Since many of us are in positions that pull our upper body forward, such as driving and working on a computer, chances are your rhomboids could use some relief.  Focused Flexibility Training uses the Julstro system for self-treatment of muscles; for the self-treatment of your rhomboids if you have one of our therapy balls and a wall you’ll be able to find those muscle knots (trigger points) and release them.

Now let’s also look at the latissimus dorsi.  On the Get Body Smart graphic slide down to #11 for a good view of the muscle and see its three movements.  This muscle originates (begins) on the thoracic spine and inserts (ends) on the upper arm.

As your arms come folding forward this muscle is stretched.  Having this muscle free of muscle knots increases your flexibility for advanced variations such as being able to press your palms flat on the ground or placing your hands under your feet.

We hope this increases your understanding of the muscle actions in the Standing Forward Bend Stretch.

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