Beware of the Rib Flare
Rib flare has been an increasingly popular subject as of late due to popular social media
accounts addressing the issue of protruding lower ribs. And you’re probably wondering why,
although protruding ribs aren’t overly aesthetically pleasing, it’s gaining such popularity around the subject and why you shouldn’t ignore it.
Lets break it down:
What is it?
Rib flare is the term used to describe a posture that causes the lower ribs to protrude forwards It can have a domino effect on movement, mobility, and posture. It usually develops over time and most often a sign of core weakness, instability, or both.
For example: You may compensate doing an overhead press by arching your back and flaring
your ribs up in order to get the weight up. It may feel easier, but its actually setting you up for
How do I know if I have rib flare?
You will be able to see your ribs sticking out when you reach your arms overhead, or when you are lying down- from the side you’ll notice a significant space between the floor and your lower back.
Why you shouldn’t ignore it:
Rib flare can cause:
Inflammation, with pain in time
A change in breathing efficiency (diaphragm cannot work properly)
Abdominal muscles struggle to activate
May negatively affect spinal alignment (upper back hyperextends causing weak upper back muscles and poor posture)
Causes anterior pelvic tilt- leading to tight hip flexors and erectors- which in turn causes the opposing muscles of your abs, glutes, and hamstrings to weaken
As you can see everything is basically connected and one anatomical shift can result in
How to fix it:
Step 1: Focus on breathing technique; If you can’t expand well through the front, back and sides of your diaphragm during inhalation, and take a FULL exhalation, then you have some work to do. Diaphragmatic breathing to expand the rib cage and focus on getting a full exhale and inhale-deep breaths will let your stomach bulge out as it tries to accommodate more air
From a lying position:
One hand on the chest, one hand on the belly below rib cage
Inhaling through the nose and letting as much air in deep toward your belly while the hand on
the chest should remain still and the one on your belly rises.
Tighten your abdominals and let them fall inward as you are exhaling through the mouth, the
hand on your belly should drop and you are back to your original starting position
Practice this for 5-10 minutes a day
Step 2: Learn how to properly engage your core; most helpful cue being: “Pull your belly button into your spine”
Are all great core exercise that cause you to pull your ribs down to stay in correct positions.
The easiest and best way to correct rib flare is to enhance the functioning of the nervous system and improve core strength.
3. Improve Posture
Standing upright, shoulders stacked over hips
Ribs pulled downward
Low back stays neutral- not extended
Correct the rib flare with simple core and breathing exercises before it becomes an actual
problem for you. You will notice more than just rib postural corrections, including an increased
lung capacity, efficient oxygen intake, and even lowering your blood pressure. (Zisi, Dimitra et
al.) It can even help with pelvic floor dysfunction.
Zisi, Dimitra et al. “The effectiveness of the active cycle of breathing technique in patients with
chronic respiratory diseases: A systematic review.” Heart & lung : the journal of critical care vol.
53 (2022): 89-98. doi:10.1016/j.hrtlng.2022.02.006