Flared Ribs – How to fix?

Pilates, Posture, Blog, / By Koh Peh Chia

Have you ever noticed that your ribs always pop out from your shirt? If you do, you may have Flared Ribs. It is not just aesthetically unpleasing, but also may affect your body function. In this article, we are going to discuss flared rib and how to fix it.

What is Flared Rib?

Flared rib is where the lower portion at the front of your rib cage protrudes forwards and out. It is easily identified where you can see your bottom ribs popping out. This often worsens when you reach the arms overhead. It also tends to be more prominent on the left side of the body as that is where our internal organs are situated.

Why Do I have Flared Ribs?

The interesting fact is that flared ribs are not due to the ribs themselves, but the muscle imbalances that cause the bad posture.

  1. Ineffective breathing

The diaphragm is the primary muscle for breathing. Ineffective breathing will result in the recruitment of compensatory muscles to assist with respiration. As a result, over-activity of these muscles can lead to flared ribs.

        2. Weak abdominal muscles

The abdominal muscles are responsible for tilting the rib cage downwards and inwards into a more neutral position. Thus if you have flared ribs, your abdominal muscles on that side will be weaker and it can lose the  integration between the diaphragm and the abdominal muscles.

       3. Hyperlordosis

Thus the back muscle such as the quadratus lumborum, paraspinal erectors and latissimuss dorsi will be overactive or become tighter to compensate for the weak abdominal muscles. It can cause an excessive arch in the lower back which results in a rib flare. As a result, it can cause you back pain.

How to Fix It?

Fortunately, flared ribs can be corrected by addressing these imbalanced muscles that cause your ribs to pop out.

The program will be focused on improving core strength, breathing exercises, stretching, massaging tight muscles. It is advised to be done by physiotherapists or trained pilates instructors who know the body functions well.

Can Pilates Help?

Yes! Pilates can help in fixing flared ribs from improving breathing pattern to facilitating the muscle integration. Below are some recommended exercises which you may try on your own at home.

All the exercises start by lying flat on your back, hands on your hip bones, knees bent, feet flat to the mat and hip-distance apart.

1. Breathing

  • Place your hands on the sides of your body around the rib cage.
  • Take a deep breath through your nose into the sides and back of the body. Focus on the expansion of your rib cage.
  • Exhale through your mouth. Your ribs will contract and the hands will draw back towards each other.
  • Repeat this breathing pattern several times until you feel the ribs expanding and contracting.
  • Focus more on your flared rib, you may noticed its expansion is lesser than the good side.

2. Arm Raise

  • Inhale and reach arms to ceiling, palms facing one another.
  • Exhale reach arms overhead, only as far as abdominal connection and contact between the rib cage and mat can be maintained.
  • Inhale reach arms to ceiling
  • Exhale lower arms down by sides.

3. Arm Leg Raise (Dead Bug)

  • Bend your hips and knees to a 90-degree angle.
  • Tighten your abs and press your lower back into the floor.
  • Take a deep breath in.
  • As you exhale, slowly extend your left leg toward the floor and bring your right arm overhead. Keep your abs tight and don’t let your lower back arch.
  • Slowly return your arm and leg to the starting position.
  • Repeat with your opposite arm and leg. Keep switching!
Dead Bug
Dead Bug

Each exercise you may do 10 times for 3 sets. Focus on the ribcage and you will see the difference!
Practice makes perfect! It may take some time to get rid of the flared ribs, but please do not give up!  If you have any doubt or issue during your workout, feel free to contact us. Also, check out our instagram page for more useful tips and videos. Stay well!