Ribs Should Move

Ribs Should Move -

Smiling senior with his dog.


Rib mobility is often overlooked, but is the primary structure of axial stability.

  • It protects our vital organs
  • Provides an attachment site for the diaphragm

But why do we care?

Without rib mobility, we use our diaphragm as a postural stabilizer to hold us upright

rather than

having it assist with what it was made for….


What will happen if ribs DO NOT move like they should?
  • Excessive arm and leg movement
  • Poor core engagement
  • Reliance on momentum rather than stability

How to tell from the FRONT…

One thing to look for are rib flares. Your ribs in the front will begin to protrude outward. This produces weakness in your abdominal musculature and increase tightness on back musculature.

What happens in the back ribs…

The posterior rib region is referred to as the posterior mediastinum. This area holds many important physiological anatomical structures associated with our Autonomic Nervous System that allows us to stay physiologically “balanced”.

The ANS allows us to transition between a calm/resting state called the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) and the up-regulated state called the sympathetic nervous system (SNS).

Not enough mobility LEADS to…

Without enough rib mobility compresses the posterior mediastinum and increases the demand on the sympathetic nervous system, which leaves the body in an up-regulated state. A long standing up regulated state means the body is working harder in all physiological systems and essentially is on “defense mode.”

For example, the heart beats faster, the respiratory system has to increase, the body secretes more sweat, and digestion slows down. All of these put more stress on the body as a whole. The importance of being able to shift from parasympathetic to sympathetic is the primary reason that the posterior mediastinum expansion and rib mobility is SO IMPORTANT.

Kick the Habit

Do not hold your breath, listen more than talk and always remember to exhale. Learning how to exhale allows us to move our ribs and get us “unstuck.” Rib mobility is where it all starts.

Try this…

Take a big, huge breath IN and hold it. What did it do to your posture? Are your shoulders up? Did you arch your back? These are signs of compensation. Ways your body will get air in when you do not have the mobility at the ribcage.

Click below to hear from the expert!

Don’t forget to exhale and call Dr. Deanna Elliott, DPT for a consultation today. 


For more reading. Click here.

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