I have to confess, since the age of about 12, I have been known as a rib thruster.If you are new to this term, let me introduce you to my friend Katy Bowman, world renowned biomechanical scientist.
In Katy’s words: ‘’ Many people ‘hide’ their thoracic kyphosis by thrusting their ribs forward, but it is better to keep your ribs down and work on stretching these tight muscles (instead of manipulating the skeleton to hide them!).’’
So when I was around 12, like any other ‘normal’ girl, I started to become self-conscious about my weight, the size of my thighs and my waistline. One day as I was carefully observing myself in mirror, I found out that when I stood in neutral alignment, my thighs appeared to be VERY fat. But when I did ‘funny things’ with my pelvis (like stick my butt out) and and combine that with thrusting my ribs forward and up, my legs looked more like Naomi’s. And that sounded really cool!
This new position soon became my new normal. I walked around for almost 15 years (and to this day I have to work on my posture) with my ribs carried way ahead of my pelvis, without even knowing how much damage I was creating in my own body.
Drawing my ribs back and setting them right over my pelvis was incredibly uncomfortable; as years with a disorganized spine had made my illiopsoas, sartorius and adductors very, very tight.
Why Is Rib Thrusting So Bad For Me?
Good alignment and mobility of the rib cage are essential for influencing how much air enters the body and how much oxygen enters the blood. Since many of the abdominal muscles attach to the lower ribs as well, being a rib thruster easily leads to weak stomach muscles, disc compression and lack of spinal stability. Ouch!
Refine Your Alignment: Fix Your Rib Thrusting!
Compare these 2 pictures:
What do you see?
In the first image you can clearly notice the massive global extension of the spine, which results from shoving the ribs forward and upwards. In the second image you can see a more aligned spine and organization of the thoracic segment over the pelvis throughout.
Aligning your ribs and moving away from being a chronic rib thruster is very simple:
Start by lining up your xyphoid process over your pubic bone. The xyphoid process is the bony triangular bit at the bottom of your sternum. Line up this bony landmark right above your pubic bone. The way I like to think about it is ‘’doing an abdominal crunch’’ with the top segments of your rectus abdominus-without actually crunching!
What is important to understand is that years of rib thrusting might leave your spine in a vulnerable place (I know mine was) and many muscles and connective tissues will become chronically tight and dehydrated. This is where getting good bodywork and regularly rolling with Yoga Tune Up® Therapy Balls becomes an inevitable part of your healing process!
Check out my next blog where I will share with you 2 amazing techniques to help release the restrictions that years of rib thrusting might have created in your body and improve your rounded shoulder posture.