A fabulous structure that hugs your lungs; all the way from the front of your chest to the back of your spine. What’s the easiest way to start moving your ribcage??……breathing of course! By taking a big inhale into the back and side of your rib you’re allowing your rib cage to expand all the way out and when exhaling it drops and knits right back in. you see, it’s all interlinked!
The muscles of your abdomen attach to the lower ribs therefore its placement during some exercises will help to encourage the recruitment of the abdominal muscles.
When lying flat, if our ribs are flared up (creating a big arch in our back) we lose this abdominal connection and may put strain on the spine during some exercises. We want to have the sensation that the back of our ribs are melted onto the mat and that the ribs are stacked on top of the pelvis (the video may explain this a little bit better).
Does this mean that you need to go through your daily constantly thinking of dropping and stacking your ribs?? Absolutely not- that would actually be ZERO fun and just awkward. It’s all about context! It’s important to be aware of rib cage placement inorder to execute some exercises more effectively.
In addition, the rib cage is attached to our thoracic spine (middle spine). It can be forgotten about sometimes! These days alot of us may find ourselves working slumped over a desk or computer for a few hours a day. This can put our thoracic spine in a flexed (bent over) position for long periods.
Just to be clear here I am not demonising sitting (it is NOT the new smoking!!). All I am saying is that being in that flexed position for a long period of time does not allow for spinal mobility. Just the same as if we kept our spine straight all of the time (think of walking like Frankenstein), that also would just be awkward and no fun!! Our spine is not made to be in just one position, it’s an amazing mobile structure that desires movement!
Ain’t nothing sexy about a spine that cant flex, extend and rotate .
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Troyer AD, Wilson TA. Action of the diaphragm on the rib cage. J Appl Physiol (1985). 2016 Aug 1;121(2):391-400. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00268.2016. Epub 2016 Jun 9. PMID: 27283911.
Heneghan NR, Baker G, Thomas K, Falla D, Rushton A. What is the effect of prolonged sitting and physical activity on thoracic spine mobility? An observational study of young adults in a UK university setting. BMJ Open. 2018 May 5;8(5):e019371. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2017-019371. PMID: 29730619; PMCID: PMC5942425