Why Ribcage Position Matters

Anyone who is an athlete, hits the gym, or is just interested or involved with exercise and movement have all heard about the importance of having a strong core.

Having a strong core is very important when it comes to addressing pain and eliminating compensations, but stability from the core comes after we have proper mobility throughout the ribcage and the thoracic spine.

First off, let me share some of the things that we need to know about the ribcage.

The ribs connect on the vertebrae of the thoracic spine where they come around and connect onto the sternum and a couple of the ribs at the bottom of the rib cage are just “floating”.

The ribcage is intertwined with muscles like the obliques which run between the rib cage. Along with the obliques we have several muscles that connect throughout the spine that end up connecting to the pelvis. Muscles are also can connect on ribs and connect into various areas of the shoulders.

All of the ribs and muscles protect the vital organs within our thoracic cavity, especially the heart and lungs.

Then there’s the diaphragm. This muscle is the primary muscle when it comes to quiet breathing. It is found at the bottom of the ribcage. When we inhale the diaphragm drops and the ribs move up and out in a pump handle fashion to allow the lungs to expand, and vice versa with exhalation.

Why does this matter?

Here is the part where this becomes important to us.

Many clients that I work with are stuck with their ribcage in the up and out position, or inhalation. This causes the ribcage to flare towards that bottom and the infrasternal angle to be wide a majority of the time. You can see in the image below the ribs are poking out at the bottom and that the infrasternal angle is rather large, especially on the right.

As a result of this position, the pelvis will rotate froward, which puts many muscles on the back side of the hips like the glutes and hamstrings to be in a less than optimal position. This position and lack of postural awareness can lead to pain in the shoulders, hips, low back, legs, and calves. So pretty much anywhere. Take your pick.

With the glutes and hamstrings being in a position that is less than optimal it will make them weak and work dysfunctionally which will eventually lead to an injury. As a result, people will work their asses off (pun not intended, but intended) and not see maximal results.

Strength training the backside of our legs is only part of the equation. We need to drop down the ribcage so people are not getting stuck in a state of inhalation, rotate the pelvis back, and learn how to take a full exhale.

So what can we do about this?

Exercises that are going to help drop the rib cage down in a state of exhalation. Postural Restoration Institute is a fantastic source for exercises to help with this very issue.

One of my favorite exercises is the 90/90 hip lift.

This exercise gets us rolling the pelvis backwards, dropping the ribcage down, and getting a full exhalation and holding that exhalation which is something that very few people due.

When we get our posture in a better position, we will decrease our pain, decrease our risk of injury, and improve mobility at different joints of the body.

If you are someone who is suffering with chronic pain and looking at getting back or staying in the gym, consider working with me by joining my 30 Day Inside Out Program by clicking to find out more information.

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