Do you have unresolved shoulder pain, muscle tension/knots in the back, or low/mid back pain that just won’t go away? Issues that are relieved with stretching but just seems to keep coming back?

Perhaps the source of the issues is in your ribs!

The role of ribs in the overall function of the body is often undervalued and overlooked in their impact on the rest of our body’s movements.

The rib cage has multiple functions:

1) Protection of the heart and lungs

2) Breathing

3) Attachment point for muscles of the shoulder girdle, chest, upper abdomen and back

Today I want to highlight the 3rd function of the rib cage.

The ribcage acts as an attachment for many muscles – the chest muscles (pectorals), abdominal muscles, back muscles and breathing muscles

Consequently, the rib cage can contribute to shoulder pain and decreased flexibility, low-mid back and neck pain, spinal mobility, and shortness of breath.

In keeping with the previous blog, the ribs and spine act as a transitional zone to transfer energy from the lower body to the upper body. If the ribs and spine lose their mobility, energy is lost, and maximal power is reduced.

Potential causes of dysfunction/stiffness in the ribs:

1) Trauma

2) Sustained postural positions for prolonged periods

3) Lack of movement of the spine and ribs

4) Shallow breathing

5) Stress

Signs and Symptoms of Rib Issues:

  • Pain/difficulty with deep breathes, coughing, sneezing
  • Pain with rotation of the spine, bending forwards, backwards, and sideways
  • Increased muscle tension in the back muscles, shoulder blade muscles
  • Neck pain
  • Pain underneath the shoulder blade

What are some ways to reduce the tension in the ribs?

  • Slow deep breathes
  • Stretching
  • Joint mobilizations
  • Regular changes in postural positions

At MPC we don’t just look at where the symptoms are located, but we will take you through a series of tests to locate the exact areas of your body that are contributing to your symptoms. By doing so, we can help eliminate the symptoms and prevent them from returning.

Author: Zachary Hum MScPT BAKin