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Here’s a Rib Flare Fix in 5 Easy Steps
If you have been experiencing shoulder, upper back, lower back or neck pain, and think your posture is not a factor, then this blog is for you!
Follow our 5 step rib flare fix below.
One of the more common problems that we see in the clinic is people trying to stand or sit with what they believe is a perfectly good posture…too tall, too straight and sticking their chest out with their shoulders back. They often arch excessively through their upper back, causing “Rib Flare”.
What Is Rib Flare?
Rib flare is the term used to describe a posture that causes the lower ribs to protrude forwards. It usually is accompanied by breastbone elevation, an upper back that is too straight or arches the opposite way, and shoulder blades pulled back excessively.
Rib flare causes the rib cage or torso to sit forward of the pelvis in standing, leading to a loss of the thoracic kyphosis, and often also leading to anterior pelvic tilt. People may compensate for this by hyperextending their knees, that is, pushing their knees back too far and having them too straight.
Rib Flare fix Image supplied by musicianshealthcollective.com
Why is Rib Flare a Problem?
Rib flare puts undue strain on the spine, neck, ribs and shoulders. When you change the natural posture of the body leading to strain building up, the natural response is for the body to protect itself. Through the central nervous system, protective mechanisms are created. Muscles become tense and guarded, and joints become stiff and immobile. Nerves can also develop tension losing their ability to naturally glide around interfaces in the body. All this leads to pain and stiffness developing, and increases the chance of an acute injury.
5 Step Rib Flare Fix
Try this 5 step process to fix this relatively common problem.
Step 1: Do you have rib flare?
Look at yourself in the mirror from side on. Do your lower ribs protrude? Does your upper back have a curve in it, or is it too straight? Do you stick out your chest when you stand or sit?
Do you experience pain or stiffness in the upper body, neck or shoulders?
Stand with your back to the wall, feet 5-10cm away from the wall. Does your mid back contact the wall, or is it just your shoulder blades?
If you have identified you have rib flare, then follow the steps below, detailed in the video
Step 2: Rib retraction in lying
Lie face up, with knees bent up. Place your hand under the lower ribs, then gently draw the ribs back down into the floor and press into your hand. Hold for a few seconds and repeat.
Now this movement might feel very awkward when you’re doing it at first, if you have this particular problem, but persevere with it. The other thing to note with this movement is you can draw the belly into the spine which will help, and you might also get some flattening of the lower back, which is also quite good and normal with this exercise. You might do this about eight or ten times in the first session. Try to do this throughout the day at least two to three times.
Step 3: Progession1
Now a good progression of this movement, once you’ve got this right, is to move both your arms over head and try to still maintain that flatness in the thoracic spine. What you are doing is that you are drawing the ribs down, you are holding drawing the belly into the spine and then you are raising the arms above your head slowly and trying to control that posture where your ribs are down. What you don’t want to see is the ribs coming up and your back lifting off the bed. Repeat x 10 x 3 daily.
Step 4: Progression 2
The next progression would be to do the same thing drawing the ribs down into the bed and then holding one leg up and then moving your arms over heads. Repeat x 6-10 with each leg, x 3 daily.
Step 5: Progression 3
Now once you’ve mastered that, the next progression would be to hold both legs up at the same time. This is quite a bit harder to keep your belly towards your spine and keep your lower back flat. Keep the ribs down and then raise the arms up, holding that pressure through onto the floor. Repeat as above.
Finally, be aware of how you are standing and sitting. If you have rib flare, try to use the above exercises to draw your ribs back in line with your pelvis. This is like shunting your rib cage back over your pelvis. Do this facing a mirror side on.
Integrating your new posture into your daily habits will take time, but the more you practice it and are aware, the easier it will become. It can take up to 2000 reps of this movement for it to feel natural and your rib flare to resolve.
You will feel more balanced, less tense and hopefully have a lot less pain!