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.

The first time I got to know I was abusing my spinal tissues was in the Yoga Tune Up® Level 1 training when my mentor Jill Miller clearly pointed out this rib alignment deficiency in my 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.

Read “Save your body from rib thrusting.”

Learn about our Therapy Ball Programs.

Watch our free Quickfix videos.

Dagmar Khan

Dagmar Khan is the 1st Integrated Yoga Tune Up® teacher in Europe and leading mobility expert in whole Ireland; with over 15 years of experience in Yoga, Pilates, Stress Management and Fitness. She is sought-after core-expert who specializes in helping people overcome physical roadblocks and rehabilitate from serious injuries, such as spinal problems, hip replacements, osteoporosis and arthritis. Dagmar has worked with 1000’s of people and has created successful Yoga Tune Up® programs for athletic clubs, colleges, and university lecturers in sport and medical doctors. Dagmar is the creator of INJURY FREE RUNNING program for the Solas Run For Life, a contributing fitness expert to Beat 102 103 & Waterford Today, and her work has been featured on Dublin City FM, WLR FM, Munster Express and Waterford News & Star. For more information visit www.dagmarkhan.com

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Chrissy CM

Thanks for the article. I am taking the Integrated Anatomy & Physiology class this weekend & was just introduced to this term – Rib Thrusting – yep.. that’s me too! I am looking forward to the next post to see how to start correcting this problem 🙂

Sandy Ahlensdorf

The past 6 months I’ve been working on not thrusting out my ribs, and like many I thought it was maintaining good posture; it brought my shoulders back and I thought I was standing up, proud to be a tall woman. I’ve had to redefine what a strong, tall woman stands like! It’s going to take more time to relearn to stand up right and keep my ribs and spine in alignment, thanks for sharing your thoughts on how to identify it.

natalie JP

This coupled with anterior pelvic tilt (or as I have recently learned it to be called “duck bum”) are ones I wish were apparent to me growing up. I agree with Cailyn, posture should be a conversation for early on life. It was for me, but from the context of it not being “lady like” to slouch. This is more than aesthetic, it is long term spine health, and overall well-being. It will take me a long time, but I’m training my ribs down!

Cailyn Edwards

This needs to be address early for more young women! It has been a three year struggle for me to be even close to proper alignment! I became a very dedicated athlete after I graduated high school and pushed my body to all sorts of limits. This would have been hard enough if I was in a healthy position while doing it. Years down the road I was hit with chronic intense back pain and hip flexors hard as rock. I am still trying to heal the damage.

Cindy

I too am a rib thruster on a mission to correct that. Your comments have helped me understand what it is that I am doing and how to start tackling the situation.

Ayla Barker

I feel like this is very relevant with current “thigh gap” craze going on. Girls anteriorly tilt the pelvis and internally rotate the thighs, knees and feet to achieve this coveted thigh gap for pictures or “selfless” to look slimmer. I am slim and don’t think that I could ever achieve this thigh gap while standing in tadasana, or practicing proper posture, with ears over shoulders, ribs and abdominals synched in, and posterior tuck to the pelvis to neutralize my curvy spine, and active glutes. Its too bad that healthy bodies and good posture that will keep you looking confident… Read more »

Garrett

I’m also a recovering rib thruster. Sadly, I was doing it because I thought it was proper posture. Tubular core has radically changed my posture and while I’ve only been practicing it a short while I’ve noticed a profound increase in my strength, stability, and general quality of living!

Gabrielle Acher

Dagmar. You have just spoken all my buzz words for today. I am in the middle of my yoga tune up training here in ottawa and we are all reaching out to the bloggers to see what cool stuff is being shared and to experience this whole new world of knowledge. A master trainer told me a few times today to lower my ribs or stick my ribs back in. And now you mention the kyphosis of the thoracic spine. This has me written all over it. Trying to correct this today was a real source of confusion and a… Read more »

Jen Licursi

From one chronic rib thruster to another: thank you. It’s funny that early in my yoga practice, I thought being able to make my ribs jut out, especially in bridge pose, was a big advantage and a sign of my enhanced flexibility. Over the years, I’ve heard different yoga teachers speak to this imbalance, but none got so deftly to the heart (or core) of the matter as Jill when she noted this alignment deficiency in my own body.

Amanda Joyce

Hi Dagmar! Great blog! I, too, was a chronic rib thruster for many years and am SO glad to have the tools to help others “unthrust” themselves to healthier posture. After years of strengthening myself in proper alignment I can now feel how icky it is to be in a rib thrusting position and can spot it from a mile away! Sending love from Cali! xo

Sarah

Thank you for the great post, Dagmar! Isn’t it amazing how ideas about “ideal” shape and size can profoundly affect us right down to the very way we breathe? I developed a rib thrusting habit in an attempt to “open my heart” and counteract the downward pull of large breasts and the internal rotation of the shoulders that sports bras encourage. For years I struggled to understand and feel the difference between retraction of the scapulae and external rotation of the shoulders. I would cue myself continuously throughout the day to draw my shoulder blades together and down my back… Read more »

Christine Colonna

Thanks for the post. I have to work hard in all yoga poses involving shoulder flexion to engage the core and prevent the hyperextension of the spine with rib thrusting to compensate for limited shoulder mobility. The tubular core exercise with all shoulder flexion activities helps me correct my rib thrusting habit

Maya Gil-Cantu

Wonderful post Dagmar. Thank you for bringing up the point that there are many forces in our lives for which we decide to internalize and externalize “wacked” positions that lead to long term pain and malfunction. By exploring our own bodies and consciously addressing blind spots when we find them, we are taking that first step towards acceptance of where are bodies are in that moment, and progression towards healing and loving every bit of it.

Jessica

I too have been a “chronic rib thruster” since my adolescent years, for very similar reasons. It is something that I constantly struggle with in my posture and especially my yoga practice. I am always noticing that my front ribs are slightly forward of my pelvis. It is really helpful to understand what it is actually happening in the rest of my body when I do this. It provides an alternate perspective and awareness to actively correct myself when it happens.

Astrid Cameron Kent

Thank-you foe the story and the visual and the corrective action Amazing! I never knew why I seemed to always blow out my ribs I honestly thought it was cause my lungs were too big, from marathon running from the early age of 12 Whatever it is, it does seem to be a default for many Perhaps it is just a learnt action from us all, and we kind of copy this physical way of standing, cause many of us stand and walk and move this way Inviting dehydration into the muscles, by holding ourselves incorrectly is such a graphic… Read more »

Cait

With a very flexible back, my tendency is also to rib thrust. Luckily, ballet training helped me to correct this early on, but I continue to keep an eye on it in my yoga practice. Interestingly, until recently I didn’t realize how lucky I’d been. If it weren’t for dance, I’d probably have put an immense amount of undue stress on my body by now. Very happy to learn about this issue more indepthly.

MaryBeth Frosco

Hi Dagmar. Thanks for the post and the honesty!! It is a very hard habit to break, especially after doing this for years and having it be the norm. I find comfort in hearing from so many recovering rib thrusters. I recognize this in many of my students as well. When standing still, I can find this alignment, but once I start to move in my practice, I can feel myself slip into the “habit” and my body yield to it. This is when a mirror becomes really helpful!! Most students don’t want to use a mirror, but times like… Read more »

Aaron Porter

“Once you see you can’t un-see” It wasn’t until I did my Yoga Tune Up® Certification did I hear the term “Rib Thrust”. I suffer from this. I am becoming more aware of it. This article really helpful. I also read some comments. Thank you Dagmar for giving a timeline on how to fix this issue. 😉

Gina Decker

Thank you for this information. Ever since I was in grade school , I wanted as Trina says, Beyonce booty but I was not blessed with one I tried to create my own by thrusting my rib cage forward and anterior tilting my pelvis. My torso was so far forward that I looked like I had a bustle under my clothes especially in formal dresses. I was sent to modeling school and learned to correct the duck walk and the bustle bump but I still trusted the ribs to make the bust look bigger. It’s interesting to look back and… Read more »

Dagmar

Emill- I took me solid 5-6 months to create strong foundation. I also needed serious bodyword on my posterior psoas, which was incredibly helpful part of the healing process. To this day, I work on my alignment, and use my YTU balls selection to keep my midline supple and hydrated.

Emill Kim

Your pictures give me hope Dagmar. I’m also a chronic rib thruster and didn’t really know it until my level 1 YTU teachers would not let me get away with my terrible posture. How long did it take you to finally get back into alignment? That question is the scariest one for me.

Christina

Oh my gosh, the things we do to ourselves to try to hard our (seemingly) flaws or to look like others! Instead we need to embrace ourselves with love and rejoice in the body we were created with! I too, over the years, have become a rib thruster. I’m not sure when it began, but I feel my ribs creep forward during class when the teacher says “Open your heart to the sky” a.k.a. in my mind, lift your ribs up and out. I will continue to make a conscious effort to keep those ribs tucked and aligned with the… Read more »

Lindsay

I, too, suffer from chronic rib thrusting. For as long as I can remember, my ballet teachers have tied ribbons around my ribcage as a reminder to draw them in… it never worked. As soon as that ribbon left, so did my alignment. Fast forward many years later, the problem still persists and has brought with it a variable of back issues in which you have described. I love the way in which you describe it as “hiding thoracic kyphosis”. It puts it in a light in which I hadn’t thought of it before. It is something that I still… Read more »

Amanda Morley

I loved your article, my name is Amanda and Im a chronic rib thruster. Fortunately, I work with a physiotherapist who kindly offered to help me out. One of the things he had me do was to focus of filling up my back body and knitting my ribs to my hips – this action was drawing the rib cage down (spinal flexion) and creating more posterior pelvic tilt. By focussing on these simple actions I found a reconnection to my core, and realised how jacked up my quadratus lumborum had become. So lots of work ahead to change the neuromuscular… Read more »

Caitlin Vestal

I’m incredibly interested in this topic (and clearly so are many other people, judging by the comments!) in the world of yoga. I wasn’t aware of how much of a rib-thruster I was until I went through a Rolfing 10-series, and my practitioner, also a yoga teacher, and I spent a ton of time talking about how chronically so many teacher thrust their ribs forward and squeeze their rhomboids together in an effort to have “yogic posture.” Once we discussed it, I found myself seeing it everywhere, and especially in the yoga classroom. Now I think of how many times… Read more »

Blake Rogers

I have suffer from chronic rip thrusting and in my later twenties really started to feel the damage i was doing to my lower back a constant yoga practice has definitely brought awareness to my posture and allowed me to continue in all the activities that i love. i have also found keeping my ribs pulled in and with proper alignment i’am stronger in my weight training and have more flight time in my inversions. great article, thanks for sharing.

Rosemary

Dagmar,

Thank you for your witty and informative post. I especially like the part about Naomi. Although I never fancied myself a model, I did find myself standing in sub optimal posture for a fair amount of my life, my yoga practice helped draw awareness to my little ribs which love to flare out while standing about. I have however just recently drawn this same awareness to my down dog. For reason unbeknownst to me, “press your chest back towards your thighs” translated as “flare your front ribs and abuse your thoracic spine.” Silly distortion of body proportion.

Hope & happiness,
Rose

Rie Katagiri

Thank you for sharing the origins of your rib thrusting Dagmar. Unfortunately, at some point in their discovery of self image, young girls often develop body shame. This fragmentation of the self manifests both in the body and psyche. The mind is the mainstream goes to fix most everything but I believe our body is equally and sometimes more direct pathway to reversing harmful habits. To address specifically how the physical body began to compensate to deal with your body shame and how to correct it took a lot of work on your part. I have my own story around… Read more »

SOS: Save Your Body From Rib Thrusting | Yoga Tune Up

[…] Tune Up® Blog « Confessions Of A Chronic Rib Thruster Dear Hamstrings, Why Must You Be So Tight? […]

Geoff Brown

Much like many other students I am constantly reminding myself to stop puffing my ribs and stay aligned. Our teacher, Amanda, uses a great analogy that I checkin with often when I am in pose. She encourages use to center our ribcage over our hips and have the eye of our diaphragm looking down through the pelvic floor (this is paraphrased). This really helped me visualize the placement of my ribs to my to rest of my body.

mimi martel

Hi Dagmar, I will definitely share your article to many people, specially mothers. As it seem like a lot of the north hemisphere culture and more & more emerging countries cultivate this ideology of femininity ( Naomi’s legs, curvy woman) In addition, high hills and the numerous hours that kids & students spent sitting (studying or playing games 🙂 are definitely not helping this chronic rib thruster and accentuating the miss alignment of the spine as well as locking short their psoas and TFL. This posture assessment should be part of the curriculum!

Katelyn

Wow, this is so me! Thanks for the article. Abdominal strength is an important component to holding ourselves upright and when your posture compromises that strength, it can be a problem! I also have a very bendy back and need the extra abdominal support. Now that I am more aware of where my body is in space and more present in my life it is something easy to correct.

Cynthia Bunt-Gardner

It’s nice to know that I’m not alone as a recovering rib thruster. The norm for me as a child was to stand tall with my shoulders pulled back. So I thrust my ribs forward as an easy way to bring my shoulders back. This posture followed me into adulthood causing undue stress on my lower back. In my YTU TT, Jill emphasized imagining a spot light inside our rib cage shining down through our pelvis and out onto the floor directly below us. This image has helped me immensely and I use it with my clients daily.

Kate Krumsiek

Thank you for this article! The pictures bring a difficult concept to life. When rib thrusting is your “normal”, it can be nearly impossible to see, feel and correct it in your own body so those pictures are priceless. What a gift to bring to yourself, readers and students – more air in the lungs and a pain free low back. Excellent article.

ashlee

Ahhhh the rib thrust……I’m on a mission to stop my rib thrusting. I’ve tried getting a new mattress because a huge cause of tight QL is bad sleeping position. Thanks for the advice reminding me to be more mindful throughout the day.

Orla

I think I may be a thruster, too, but possibly originating from years of playing clarinet, often for several hours a day – with this thrusty position encouraged. I know I get the correction to bring my ribs in during yoga and barre class. I’m eager to read your post with corrective tips. Thanks for the helpful illustrations.

Clare Chura

I’m so glad that you touched upon this misalignment. I’m guilty of standing in a similar posture at times, and it can show during my practice. I’m currently in the Yoga Tune Up TT, and my instructors have come by me during master class a couple of times to motion my ribs inward as I balance or stand. For me, it’s primarily due to putting too much focus on other parts of a pose at a time (IE: In yogi-toe-grab, I’m TOO determined to grab my toe and abduct/elevate my hip at times; this causes my ribcage to sag). This… Read more »

Tess

Thank you for being so honest and helpful. Coming from a desk job into yoga, I was told constantly to get my shoulders on my back and lengthen the spine. The way I translated that brought me into unfortunate habit of rib thrusting. I am just now realizing that I’ve gone to far and have fallen into this imbalance. The photos in your post helped me to understand it better. As I teach more, it’s something I will be mindful of–creating length in the spine without going into extension.

Nicolette David

I was pulled in by the title of this article. It always brings to mind multiple students who live in that same position. I found the two pictures to be incredibly revealing, supportive to your findings, and helpful to see change. I also appreciate the many reasons why being in this position is not optimal for the body.

Lauren

I am a reformed thruster. It took a lot of time to re wire. Any deviation from thrust felt abnormal and hunched. Duh! But I was always being told to tuck my tail to fix sway back. What I learned later was that my sway back had NOTHING to do with my tailbone or pelvis but everything to do with my rib pelvis relationship. Now I get to work on optimal rib placement and optimal pelvic placement.

Macala

I am a reforming rib thruster(it takes constant practice!) when I am properly aligned in tadasana I feel a huge difference right down to my pelvic floor! Full yogic breathing while properly aligned is amazing.

kim haegele

I, too, am a reformed rib thruster. For years, when my tight shoulders and thoracic spine limited my range of motion, I bypassed that tightness by back bending and flaring my front ribs. I did this in the most basic poses: Uttitha Hasta Tadasana, AMS, etc. for about 10 years of Asthanga practice. I began studying with a new teacher who had no tolerance for this kind of avoidance and was corrected repeatedly. I remember how wrong it felt at first – as though I were folding forward – and how, on some level, this felt threatening to my entire… Read more »

Marisa

Thank you Dagmar for this article. I am a recovering rib thruster as well and I have to constantly watch myself everyday. As I become more vigilant of my own posture I also notice the postures of others and the rib thrusting is a very common misalignment. I’m not sure when or how I adopted this posture but I’ve noticed when I’m tired or stressed my rib trusting is in full effect, scapula retracted and pelvis anteriorly tilted.

Meghan

I find that this is so common in women in large part because we are hiding are beautiful derrières. In a society that tends to cause women to conservatively suck in and lift up our juicy bits it is such am important message to just be in alignment. I confess I was a rib thruster until recently and it was in an effort to distort the reality of my body with some idea of what I should look like. Thank you so much for this wonderful article.

Jennie Cohen

I’m particularly struck here by the emotional source of the misalignment. Again and again asana provides a context for self-observation on a level deeper than bones and muscles.

Lisa Swanson

Hi Again: Again, great blog about Rib Thrusting. In my Pilates practice, I teach my clients to “close their ribs”. During a mat class, I’ll ask the students to place their hands over their ribcage while they are lying on their back. I’ll ask them to Inhale through the nose, feeling the ribs open laterally. Upon exhalation (which I ask them to force out of their mouth), I ask them to guide the ribs close. While holding the ribs close, I’ll have them do that practice exercise a few more times. For private clients who are not connecting, I may… Read more »

Kathleen Mumma

Thank you, Dagmar, for bringing this to light. It is something I also struggle with in trying to correct my posture. I had moderate kyphosis from slouching my entire life. Through yoga, I’ve improved leaps and bounds and the kyphosis is almost gone – however, in an effort to stand up “straight” and depress and retract my shoulders, I’ve also been thrusting my ribs forward. Only recently have I become aware of this misalignment. Thanks for keeping me aware and I look forward to your the subsequent post!

Dinneen

I confess, I’m a recovering rib thruster also. As a beginner yogi 25 years ago I somehow got the message that “standing up tall” involved shoulder retraction and thoracic extension, when in fact it does not. Thanks for the post Dagmar!

Michelle Dalbec

Dagmar, Thank you so much for bringing to light such a common and detrimental misalignment of today. I personally identify with your personal story of altering natural posture to create an optical illusion in your body. I spent many years doing exactly the same thing. I’m very excited about Yoga Tune Up and brilliant teachers like you bringing this to light in a very intelligent way AND closing the circle with self care thru therapy ball massage to ease the transition and tension while transforming the tissues.

Diane M

Hi Dagmar, Thank you for sharing the context and your story… rib thrusting is not something I really picked up easily until I worked with JIll also. For me, as a teacher, I would see the alignment was off– but it teasing it apart from perhaps additional lumbar extension etc wasn’t as easy as it is today with my YTU experience. I like the explanation of “hiding thoracic kyphosis”. Never thought about it that way…. but this will stick in my brain and help me to recognize it when I see it– because it is sometimes subtle…. Thank you!