The Lat Test

Test Objective for the Lat Test

The Lat Test evaluates shoulder flexion which includes the flexibility of the latissimus dorsi muscle group, shoulder joint restrictions and scapular motion limitations. The lat muscle spans the entire back and inserts onto the arm.

Tightness in the lat can lead to loss of spinal posture anytime the arms are elevated, such as during the backswing. Also, the lat muscle can limit the ability of the player to rotate their shoulders on the backswing or the follow-through.

Common swing faults caused by lack of lat mobility are, Loss of Posture, Reverse Spine Angle, Limited Arm Heights, and Over-The-Top.

The lat muscle is a powerful internal rotator and adductor of the humerus. Therefore, it is a major contributor to power in the golf swing. 

How to Perform the Lat Test

Use a wall sturdy enough for your client to place a good deal of the body weight against to perform this test. Ask the client to get into a modified wall-sit position, place back against wall and slowly slide back and pelvis down the wall until the knees and feet are just short of a 90-degree angle. The client should appear in a half-sitting position against a wall. Make sure that the feet are directly below the knees and not too close to the wall. Make sure the feet are approximately shoulder width apart. Make sure that the lower back is flush against the wall.

Once in the proper half-sitting position, begin the test by having the client extend both arms out in front so they are both parallel with the floor. Thumbs should be pointing upward and elbows should be locked. The distance between the arms/hands should be approximately the width of a volleyball or soccer ball. Ask the client to begin raising the arms up in front of them without bending the elbows as far as they can go, keeping the thumbs in the same direction. The test concludes when:

  • Their elbows bend (creates the field gol look).
  • The arch in their lower back increases off the wall.
  • They reach pain or discomfort.
  • The arms reach the wall.

Once the client has reached the apex of the arm raise (seen by the bending of elbows, arching of back, arrival of pain/discomfort, or touching of the wall) take a measurement using a 6-iron to see what degree of lat raise is present (You can use their nose to perform the test if no 6-iron is present). Place them into one of three categories:

  • Below 120 degrees - Less than the lie angle of a 6-iron (Below the nose)
  • Equal to 120 degrees - Equal to the lie angle of a 6-iron (Covers the nose)
  • Between 121-169 degrees - Greater than the lie angle of a 6-iron but does not touch the wall (Between nose and the wall)
  • Greater than 169 degrees - Touches the wall

This will give a measurement of the mobility of the latissimus and the shoulder joint. Be sure to take the same measurement on the opposite side to rule out any side-to-side differences. 

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