As yoga and pilates teachers we are always on the look out for popping out ribs, I must say it 20 times or more in a class ( Pull your ribs in! Close your ribs! Don’t pop your ribs!, I sound like a broken record. But do you know what causes that hollowing of the upper abdomen and jutting ribs? I certainly didn’t when I first started teaching yoga.
How do you properly keep your ribs in place? Think of the ribcage as an umbrella, when you inhale, that umbrella expands, opening in all directions. As you exhale, it closes, re-wrapping around your torso from all sides. When you breathe fully, you are activating the abdominals, the diaphragm, the lats and the abdominal wall, along with deeper muscles around the ribs and spine themselves.
A common error is shallow breathing, you must allow yourself to breathe deeply so your using the back and sides of the ribs in that umbrella fashion.
Popping the ribs is another common mistake, this happens when you don’t fully use your breathing to stabilise your ribcage, and as a result, abdominal engagement is lost. Every time this happens your causing stress in the low to mid back.
Preventing errors prevents aches and pains, leading you to a less stressful workout and life as a whole.
How to test your rib cage placement.
Lying on your back, with your knees bent and both feet flat on the floor, inhale and reach your arms to the ceiling, exhale and take them over your head, but only as far as you can to maintain abdominal connection and the rib cage can remain in contact with the floor. (For some this may be eye level, some may be able to reach the ground with their arms. The aim though is not necessarily to reach the ground but to maintain abdominal control). On the next inhale reach your arms back to the ceiling and exhaling, lower your arms back down your sides.