7 Rib Flare Exercises For Better Posture

Do you have trouble breathing or have a strain in your back? A rib flare could be the culprit!

As a certified personal trainer, I’ll guide you through what it is, why it happens, and how to prevent it with corrective rib flare exercises.

Medical disclaimer: Workout Great is not intended for medical advice. If you are experiencing pain or difficulty breathing, consult with a healthcare professional. 

Here’s what’s coming up. 

Accessory Rib Flare Exercises

What’s A Rib Flare?

A rib flare is a condition of your posture. Rib flares consist of:

  • an excessively straight upper back
  • an overly curved lower back 
  • an elevated chest with lower ribs sticking out. 

Rib flares change the position of your rib cage in relation to your pelvis. 
It causes your torso to shift forward of the pelvis when standing.

The ribs normally should be down and in a neutral position. This is perfect for your diaphragm to work best. 

A rib flare extends the diaphragm and prevents you from taking full, deep breaths. 

Corrective Rib Flare Exercises

Rib flare exercises are essential for promoting better posture and breathing better. These exercises work because they improve rib cage expansion. 

The idea is that there’s more space for the rib cage to expand in the back of the rib cage than the front. 

By improving rib cage expansion from the back, you can get rid of lower rib flare and improve your breathing.

  • The first and most important thing is a full, long exhale. Softly exhale through your mouth like a long sigh. 
  • Have your mouth open and softly exhale for 5 to 10 seconds. 
    Feel your ribs come down, and at the end feel a bit of side ab tension. 
  • After you feel the side abs tense, close your mouth, and silently inhale through your nose. You should feel the rib cage open up. 
  • A silent inhale ensures that you’re using the diaphragm. Loud inhales use more neck muscles, and you want to reduce that as much as possible. 

For more info, check out this helpful video on rib flare exercises.

Child’s Pose Pillow Breathing Exercise

  • Get a pillow and fold it in half
  • Put the pillow underneath your lowest ribs
  • Get into a child’s pose position 
  • Keep your hips back towards your heels as far as they go 
  • Lengthen and relax your back with head in neutral position
  • Elbows wide toward knees, focus on feeling inner elbow contact 
  • Soft exhale through the mouth
  • After exhale close your mouth
  • Put your tongue on the roof of your mouth
  • Inhale through your nose silently and slowly
  • You’ll feel your back expand  
  • Repeat for 5 to 10 breath cycles and 2 sets

Seated Pillow Breathing Exercise

  • Sit in a chair or bench 
  • Keep feet flat with a 90 degree bend in the knees and hips 
  • Put a book under your feet if they don’t touch the ground  
  • Make sure to feel even contact on your butt  
  • Get a pillow and fold it in half
  • Wedge it between your lowest ribs and the top of your thighs
  • Put your arms over the pillow with bent elbows and palms facing you 
  • Reach forward with your torso and bend forward
  • The goal here is to open up the back 
  • Hold the position and exhale softly through your mouth for 5 to 10 seconds 
  • At the end of the exhale you’ll feel the side abs engage  
  • Once you feel the tension, softly and silently inhale through your nose for 5 seconds
  • Repeat for 5 to 10 breath cycles and 2 sets

Accessory Rib Flare Exercises 

rib flare exercises

These rib flare exercises focus on strengthening the core, improving posture, or stretching problem areas. 

Do these movements as accessories to prevent rib flare and straighten your overall physique. 

Side Plank

Side planks engage the intercostal muscles (rib muscles) and obliques. 

  • Lie on your side propped up on your elbow  
  • Lift your hips off the ground
  • Focus on lifting your rib cage towards the ceiling
  • You’ll feel a side crunching sensation
  • Hold the position for 15-30 seconds on each side for 2 sets 

Plank 

The plank is an excellent overall core strengthener and stabilizer. It can be done by itself or in a moves like a push up or mountain climber.  

  • Get into a push-up position with your forearms on the ground
  • Keep your head in a neutral position, looking down at the ground
  • Keep elbows directly beneath your shoulders
  • Your body should form a straight line from head to your heels
  • Engage your core muscles by slightly tucking your pelvis
  • Hands can be in fists or flat on the ground 
  • Keep your feet hip width apart.
  • Tighten your core and squeeze your butt
  • Hold for 15-30 seconds or longer if you can with proper form 
  • Breath evenly and deeply

Rib Cage Compression Breathing 

This exercise helps to improve ribcage control and muscle engagement.

  • Stand with your feet shoulder width apart 
  • Place hands on your ribs and inhale deeply through your nose
  • Exhale forcefully and contract your abdominal muscles 
  • Gently push your ribs down and in
  • Repeat for 5-10 breath cycles and 2 sets 

Chest Openers 

Stretching exercises that open the chest can counteract the effects of bad posture. 

  • Stand with your feet hip width apart
  • Interlock your fingers behind your back
  • Straighten your arms and much as you can 
  • Lift your chest while squeezing your shoulder blades together
  • Hold the stretch for 15-30 seconds and breath deeply for 2 sets 

Doorway Lat Stretch 

Lats attach to the pelvis and can become tight with rib flare.
Stretching them is a good idea to open up your back. 

  • Stand facing a sturdy doorway
  • Keep feet hip-width apart
  • Lift your arms overhead and extend them straight up
  • Bend your elbows at a 90-degree angle, with palms facing forward 
  • Place hands on the door frame, one hand on each side
  • Step forward with one foot to help stabilize your stance
  • Gently lean your upper body forward, keeping your arms on the door frame.
  • You should feel a stretch in your lats (and shoulder and chest) 
  • Hold the position for 15-30 seconds on each side for 2 sets

What’s The Problem With Rib Flares?

When rib flares are not dealt with, they can result in bad posture, muscular weakness, aches and pains, and eventually difficulty breathing.

Rib flares may also be noticeable under clothes and affect your body image. 

Rib flare exercises can be done to correct posture and improve the way you feel about yourself.

Rib flare exercises may help alleviate pain and get you back to normal torso position. 


Rib Flares and Posture 

Rib flares affect more than the lower ribcage. It has a chain reaction effect on your entire upper body posture. 

Tell tale physical signs of a rib flare are 

  • Elevated chest 
  • Super straight upper back
  • Shoulder blades extremely pulled back
  • Ribs that jut out excessively when you raise your arms
  • Overarched and tight lower back 
  • Possibly an anterior pelvic tilt  

Wait. Chest out, back straight, and shoulders back sounds like good posture. What’s the problem here then?

Good posture involves having your shoulders down and back. But rib flares pull shoulders back, and prevent them from depressing (dropping down). 

The upper back has a natural forward curve and should not be overly straight, like with an elevated chest. 

Rib flares increase the tension in your lower back and mid back muscles, and misalign your pelvis. This can cause you to be more injury prone and have balance and stability issues. 


Rib Flares and Core 

Rib flares result in an over extension of the stomach or core.

The core acts as a stabilizer and keeps your body tight while sitting, standing, and doing everyday activities. It provides much needed support for the spine. 

  • If the lower back is overarched, that means the abdominal muscles are overstretched. 
  • This limits and weakens the core to the point where it leaves your lower back unprotected. 
  • When the core is over extended, other back muscles have to compensate. The back muscles and hip flexors have to work and strain harder. 

Rib Flares and Breathing

When we normally inhale, our rib cage should expand in all directions. 

It expands front to back, side to side, and our stomach rises simultaneously. If your rib cage doesn’t expand then there’s a problem.

That’s because our lungs are in our rib cage and they need to expand when we breathe. 

We find a way to compensate for the rib cage not expanding through the path of least resistance. The way this is most often done is by moving the lower ribs up and out of the way. 

  • Rib flares make it so that your diaphragm cannot fully contract. When this happens, taking deep breaths is very difficult. 
  • The diaphragm normally contracts by flattening and moving down when we inhale. This causes your chest to rise and lungs to expand and fill with air. 
  • With a rib flare, the chest is already elevated so that space that’s needed for expansion is not there. 

Rib Flares and Aesthetics

You may have a rib flare that alters the way shirts look on you. 

This can affect your self-esteem, and chances are you may want to hide it as much as possible. Some tips to do that are: 

  • Wear shirts the are less form fitting in the waist area
  • Wear darker colored clothing
  • Don’t bring attention to the waist with flashy belts
  • Wear layers to add bulk over the area 

What Causes Rib Flares? 

Understanding the causes of rib flares will address the condition. Rib flare exercises can help to reverse it. Causes of rib flare include: 

  • Genetics. Some people are born with a rib cage that sticks out, or that is more likely to get a rib flare. You can’t change genetics, but you can work on posture and making muscles strong. 
  • Chest breathing. Stress and anxiety can cause you to take shallow breaths. Shallow, fast breathing comes from high in the chest and not from the diaphragm. Too much of this can cause rib flare. 
  • Muscle weakness. Lack of physical activity and prolonged sitting can contribute to rib flare. A sedentary lifestyle can create weak abdominal muscles. 
  • Injury. If you’ve been hit in your chest region in sports or fighting, this can cause rib flare. 

Other Lifestyle Adjustments
For Rib Flare 

Fixing rib flares doesn’t stop with just rib flare exercises.
You can do little things on the regular and take preventative measures. 

  • Mindful Posture. Become more aware of your posture while walking, standing, or sitting at your desk. There’s posture correction products you can try. 
  • Ergonomic Workspace. Invest in a chair that’s good for you back. Adjust your desk and monitor to minimize strain. Buy a laptop stand if you need. 
  • Move Regularly At Work. Take short breaks every 60 minutes. Get up and walk or stretch to wake up those muscles. Light cardio on rest days can also help to get moving.

Bottom Line 

Now you enjoy the corrective benefits of rib flare exercises. Better posture, improved core strength, and reduced back pain can be yours. 

As you incorporate these rib flare exercises and lifestyle adjustments, you’re investing in your health and well being. 

So stand tall with confidence and breathe easy with the positive changes! 

Looking for more ways to exercise? Check out these Daily Musts: 15 Essential Exercise Moves, or build an impressive chest with the 3 Best Chest Exercises.

AUTHOR

Shalom is a content creator, musician, and a teacher at heart. As a certified personal trainer, his goal is to encourage others to lead healthier lives and to get buff in the process!

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