How to Fix Flared Ribs - Posture Direct (2022)

What are Flared Ribs?

If you are wondering “Why do my ribs stick out?”, it is likely that you have Flared Ribs!

Flared Ribs is where the lower portion at the front of your rib cage protrudes forwards and outwards.

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It is associated with an increasedarch of the lower back.

Flared Ribs Vs Normal

Ideally – The rib cage should directly align with the pelvis.

Causes of Flared Ribs

There is a combination of factors that can lead to the development of ribs that flare outwards.

a) Weak abdominal muscles

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The abdominal muscles are responsible for tilting the rib cage downwards and inwards into a more neutral position.

(Muscles involved: Rectus Abdominis, Internal Obliques and Transversus Abdominis)

b)Tight muscles

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Tight muscles in the lower back can cause an excessive arch in the lumbar spine.

This can result in a rib flare.

Tight muscles include:

  • Quadratus Lumborum
  • Erector Spinae
  • Latissimus Dorsi

Tightness in the External Obliques can also contribute to Flared Ribs.

c)Ineffective breathing

The Diaphragm is an important muscle that is located at the base of the rib cage.

It serves as the primary muscle that is responsible for normal breathing.

If this muscle is not functioning optimally, the body may compensate by flaring out the ribs to help with respiration.

d) Limited shoulder flexion

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When reaching over head – if you lack shoulder mobility, your ribs will tend to flare out as a compensation as you tilt your torso backwards.

e)Pectus Excavatum

This is a congenital chest wall deformation which is characterized by a sunken chest appearance.

As this is of genetic/structural origins, there is going to be a certain limit as to how much the rib cage can be influenced.

(Video) Do This EVERY Day for Better Posture (GUARANTEED!)

Test for Flared Ribs

Not sure if you have Flared ribs? Try out this quick test to determine if you have it or not!

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Instructions:

  • Stand up.
  • Place both hands slightly below the lower section of the front of your ribs.
  • Proceed to push and drag your hands up towards your chest.

Results: If you can feel your lower ribs significantly protruding outwards, then it is likely that you have Flared Ribs!

How to Fix Flared Ribs

Note: Please make sure that you perform all of these exercises in a pain-free and gentle manner.

1. Releases

The first step is to release the tight muscles which are associated with the flaring of the ribs.

a) Lower back

(Muscle targeted: Erector Spinae, Quadratus Lumborum)

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Instructions:

  • Place a massage ball underneath the muscles of your lower back.
  • Apply an appropriate amount of body weight on top of the ball.
  • You may perform gentle circular motions of your body to help cover more areas.
  • Do not place the massage ball directly underneath bony areas.
  • Aim for 2 minutes on each side of the spine.

b) Latissimus Dorsi

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Instructions:

  • Make sure you know the exact location of the Latissimus Dorsi muscle.
  • Lie down on your side.
  • Place the Latissimus Dorsi muscle directly on top of a foam roller.
  • Position your arm in an outstretched position.
  • Apply as much body weight onto the foam roller as comfortably tolerated.
  • Make sure to cover the entire length of the muscle.
  • Continue for2 minutes.

2. Stretches

Following the Releases, the tight muscles will also need to be stretched.

a) Lower back

(Muscle targeted: Erector Spinae)

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Instructions:

  • Sit down on the edge of a chair.
  • Bring your legs apart.
  • Collapse and fold your torso between your knees.
  • Aim to feel a stretch in your lower back.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.

For more stretches: Erector Spinae Stretches.

b) Latissimus Dorsi

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Instructions:

  • Assume the position above.
  • Hold onto a door frame with your hand.
  • Whilst anchoring your legs as shown, aim to bend your mid section as much as possible.
    • Use your body weight to sink into the stretch.
  • Twist your pelvis away.
  • Aim to feel a stretch on the side of your torso.
  • Hold for30seconds.

For more stretches: Latissimus Dorsi Stretches.

c) Quadratus Lumborum

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Instructions:

  • Stand with your feet wide apart .
  • With arms outstretched, start to bend all the way to your side.
  • Aim to reach your upper arm as far to the side as possible.
  • Do not rotate your body.
  • Aim to feel a stretch on the side of your spine.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.
  • Repeat on other side.

d) External Obliques

(Video) What Is Rib Flare? Watch To Learn How To Fix

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Instructions:

  • Sit down on a chair.
  • Collapse your torso forwards slightly.
  • Tilt the torso away from the side that you are trying to stretch.
  • Hook your elbow around the chair backing.
  • Twist your torso towards the side you are trying to stretch.
  • Take a deep breath into your stomach.
  • Aim to feel a stretch in the side of your ribs cage.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.

3. Breathing & Core Activation

Before you start any strengthening exercises to fix your Flared Ribs, it is ESSENTIAL to understand how to:

  • a) Engage your core muscles
  • b) Breathe properly/efficiently by using your Diaphragm muscle
  • c) Maintain optimal alignment of the rib cage

(… all at the same time!)

Here’s how to do it

Core Activation with Breathing

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Instructions:

  • Lie down your back with knees bent.
  • Breathe in.
  • Step 1: As you breathe out through your mouth:
    • Slowly push out ALL of the air out of your lungs.
    • Engage your core muscles (“draw belly button in AND gently tense your abdominal muscles”)
    • Drop your lower rib cage down.
    • Flatten your lower back completely on the floor.
    • This is what I will refer to as “Activate your Core in the exercises in the next section.
  • Step 2: Whilst maintaining this position, take a deep breath in through the nose.
    • Imagine the whole circumference of your lower torso/abdominal region inflate.
    • Do not allow your rib to flare out as you breathe in!
  • Restart Step 1.
  • Keep your neck and chest completely relaxed.
  • Repeat 10 times. (… or as long as it takes to get it correct!)

** Note: This specific contraction MUST be performed throughout all of the following exercises in the next section. **

This exercise help position your rib cage properly so that your Diaphragm works more efficiently.

4. Learn to tilt your Rib Cage

You will need to learn how to tilt your rib cage into a more neutral position to perform the strengthening exercises in the next section effectively.

Downward rib tilt

Instructions:

  • Sit down on the edge of a chair.
  • Lock your pelvis in a neutral pelvis.
  • Whilst keeping your chest up high, tilt your lower ribs downwards.
  • You should feel a gentle contraction in the abdominal muscles.
  • Hold for5 seconds.
  • Repeat30times.

5. Strengthening

I have arranged these strengthening exercises in order of increasing level of difficulty.

(Note: You do not need to do all of them. Try them all but choose 1-3 exercises that feel the most effective for you and progress as appropriate.)

a) Dead bug (with arm drop)

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Instructions:

  • Lie on your back.
  • Keep your knees lifted with hips at 90 degrees.
  • Activate your Core to keep your rib cage lowered.
  • Lower your arms down behind you as far as you can go.
    • Breathe OUT as you do it.
    • Breathe IN as you return to the starting position.
  • Keep your lower back completely flat on the ground.
  • Repeat 10 times.
  • To progress: Hold onto a weight

b) Dead bug (with leg drop)

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Instructions:

  • Lie down on your back with knees lifted up.
  • Activate your Core to keep your rib cage lowered.
  • Slowly lower your leg as far as you can go.
    • Breathe OUT as you do this.
    • Breathe IN as you return to the starting position.
  • Keep your lower back completely flat on the ground.
  • Alternate legs for 10 repetitions each.
  • To progress: Drop both legs together.

c) Dead bug (with arm/leg drop)

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Instructions:

  • Lie on your back with both of your knees bent in the air.
  • Activate your Core to keep your rib cage lowered.
  • Keep your pelvis rotated backwards throughout this exercise.
    • This is to flatten your lower back.
  • Slowly lower the opposite arm/leg.
    • Lower the better! (… but only if you can keep the lower back FLAT!)
  • Repeat5-10times.

d) Shoulder flexion with band

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Instructions:

(Video) Rib Flare FIX - Using The Infrasternal Angle

  • Stand up.
  • Hold onto the ends of a resistance band.
  • Gently pull theband apart.
  • Roll your shoulder blades backwards.
  • Keep your chest wide and open.
  • Activate your Core to keep your rib cage lowered.
  • Bring your arms over head as far as you comfortably can.
  • Keep your neck relaxed.
  • Do not arch your lower back as you bring your arms up. (Keep the ribs DOWN!).
  • Repeat 20 times.

e) Wall angel

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Instructions:

  • Stand with your back to a wall.
  • Activate your Core to keep your rib cage lowered.
  • Keep your back and armspulled backwardsas to remain in contact with the wall throughout movements.
  • Place your arms in the ‘W’ starting position.
  • Slide your arms up the wall:
    • Breathe OUT as you do this.
    • Breathe IN as you return to the “W” starting position.
  • Do NOT let your ribs flare out as you raise your arms.
  • Keep the lower back flat on the wall.
  • Repeat 10 times.

f) Plank

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Instructions:

  • Get into the plank position.(see above)
  • Activate your Core to keep your rib cage lowered.
  • Make sure that your lower back does NOT sink in.
  • Your ankle/hip/shoulder should be aligned.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.

g) Pull downs

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Instructions:

  • Anchor a resistance band at above head height level.
  • Hinge forwards so that there is slight forward lean of your torso.
  • Activate your Core to keep your rib cage lowered.
  • Pull the resistance band down towards your knees.
  • Slowly let your arms recoil to the over head position.
    • Breathe OUT as you do this.
  • Your torso should not move during this exercise.
  • Pull the resistance band back to starting position.
    • Breathe IN as you do this.
  • Repeat 10 times.

h) Pull overs

Instructions:

  • Lie on top of an exercise ball.
  • Hold onto a weight above your head.
  • Activate your Core to keep your rib cage lowered.
  • Slowly lower the weight as far as you can go.
    • Breathe OUT as you do this.
  • Bring the weight back to the starting position.
    • Breathe IN as you do this.
  • Do not let your ribs flare upwards.
  • Repeat 10 times.

i) Roll outs

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Instructions:

  • Grab an exercise ball.
  • Whilst kneeling, place your forearms onto the ball.
  • Activate your Core to keep your rib cage lowered.
  • Proceed apply your body weight onto the ball as you roll it as far forward as you can.
    • BreatheOUT as you roll forward.
    • Breathe IN as you return to starting position
  • Repeat 10 times.

6. Improving function

Throughout the day, make sure that you are consciously maintaining your ribs in a neutral position.

(Note: As you get better with the suggested exercises, the aim is to get your ribs to NATURALLY adopt this position.)

a) Use this cue

A helpful cue to remember is – “Ribs down, Chest up, Shoulders back.”

b) Perform Exhales

The muscles which are responsible for exhaling the air out of your lungs will also help with reclaiming the normal position of the ribs.

Throughout the day, perform a prolonged exhalation through your mouth with pursed lips as you Activate your Core.

7. Address Thoracic Spine

If your posture appears to get worse after placing your ribs in a more neutral position, you will need to check to see if your have Thoracic Kyphosis.

Thoracic Kyphosis

This is where the upper back is LOCKED in a rounded position.

(If you tend to slouch on a regular basis, you probably have this problem!)

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(Video) Q&A - Ribcage Flare Causes | Posture Ellie

If you have Thoracic Kyphosis, your general posture will actually get worse when you correct your rib flare!

WHY!?

Since the upper back is already rounded forwards, dropping the rib cage down will cause your posture to slouch even more!

To address this issue – You will need to do exercises to specifically loosen and straighten your Thoracic spine.

Here is a complete guide on how to do that:

See post: Thoracic Kyphosis.

8. What happens if the Rib Flare is more on ONE SIDE?

It is actually very common to have a more prominent rib flare on one side.

(In the clinic – I tend to see more rib flares on the LEFT side.)

To fix a rib flare on one side:

a) Focus more attention on keeping the rib cage down on this side whilst performing the strengthening exercises.

b) Address Pelvis Rotation

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If your pelvis is twisted towards one side, the torso will counter twist which can lead to one side of the rib cage flaring outwards.

For a complete guide to address this issue:

See post: Exercises for Rotated Pelvis.

c) Address Torso Rotation

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Due to the asymmetrical position of the torso, a twisted spine can result in a flared rib being more prominent on one side.

For a complete guide to address this issue:

See post: Exercises for Twisted Spine.

Conclusion

Flared Ribs is a postural issue where the bottom part of the rib cage protrudes outwards.

It is related to weak abdominal muscles and over extension of the lower back.

A poor rib cage position makes it difficult for your main breathing muscle (the Diaphragm) to function optimally.

Perform the suggested exercises to help fix your Flared Ribs.

If your posture gets worse as you fix your rib position, you will need to check to see if you have Thoracic Kyphosis.

What to do next

1. Any questions?… (Leave me a comment down below.)

(Video) Correcting Rib Flare part 2

2. Come join me on the Facebook page. Let’s keep in touch!

3. Start doing the exercises!

Disclaimer:The content presented on this blog post is not medical advice and should not be treated as such. It is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Use of the content provided on this blog post is at your sole risk.For more information:Medical disclaimer.

FAQs

How to Fix Flared Ribs - Posture Direct? ›

Activate your Core to keep your rib cage lowered. Slowly lower your leg as far as you can go. Breathe OUT as you do this. Breathe IN as you return to the starting position.

How do you fix posture and rib flare? ›

Fix flared ribs at home #shorts - YouTube

Can you actually fix flared ribs? ›

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.

How do you fix uneven flared ribs? ›

If your rib cage is only slightly uneven, you may be able to improve your condition with repeated stretching and exercise. More serious cases of rib cage unevenness may need to be fixed surgically. Sometimes a custom brace can correct your rib cage.

Can a chiropractor fix a flared rib? ›

Chiropractic care is considered one of the best, most effective treatments for misaligned ribs. Once the chiropractor has determined that the rib is out of alignment, he or she will often begin by using various techniques that will “loosen” the area, making the muscles more pliable.

Are flared ribs genetic? ›

Some people develop rib flare because of genetics, but in a lot of cases rib flare has to do with breathing. The breath is essential to movement and our overall health, but many people don't know how to breath properly. Without a complete exhale, the lungs get stuck with old air, which makes the rib flare more extreme.

Why is my rib sticking out? ›

A popped rib happens when the cartilage attached to any of your “false ribs” breaks, resulting in abnormal movement. It's this slipping out of normal position that causes pain that's felt in your upper abdomen or lower chest. In most cases, a popped rib is caused by injury or trauma.

How do I get rid of my wide rib cage? ›

Exercise is the most effective way to burn off all forms of body fat, including both forms of abdominal fat. Combining exercise with a healthy, moderate calorie-restricted diet can help you reach a smaller rib cage size.

How can I make my ribs smaller without surgery? ›

How to get a SMALLER RIB CAGE- Follow Along Workout ... - YouTube

How do you get a flat belly with a wide rib cage? ›

how to get a flat stomach with a wide rib cage - YouTube

How do I make my ribs narrow? ›

It's not possible to reduce the size of the rib cage. Corsets and binding can give you the appearance of a smaller upper body, but they don't lead to permanent changes. When done incorrectly, they may lead to other health problems that can easily be avoided.

How do you reset ribs? ›

How to Crack Your Ribs by Yourself - YouTube

How do you realign your ribs? ›

How to Self Adjust Your Chest AND Front Ribs - YouTube

How do you get rid of a fat rib flare up? ›

Exercises to Decrease the Amount of Fat Over the Ribs - YouTube

How do you fix rib flare anterior pelvic tilt? ›

Addressing RIB FLARE & ANTERIOR PELVIC TILT - YouTube

How do you realign your ribs? ›

How to Self Adjust Your Chest AND Front Ribs - YouTube

How do you get a flat belly with a wide rib cage? ›

how to get a flat stomach with a wide rib cage - YouTube

Videos

1. Reposition Your Ribcage Posture to Fix Scapular Winging | Waugh Personal Training
(Waughfit)
2. Rib Flare Core Assessment
(Nancy Anderson)
3. Yoga to help correct rib flare | Yoga for Dancers
(The Balletic Yogi)
4. Rib Flare Exercises Part 2_Core Corrective Exercises
(Breathe Well Coaching)
5. Fixing Your Posture & Rib Flare Part 2
(Steven Morales Certified Personal Trainer)
6. Rib Flare Fix
(TNT Lifestyles)

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