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The Basic Principles: Rib Cage Placement

The abdominal wall attaches to the lower ribs. The abdominal muscles must often be recruited to maintain the rib cage and the thoracic spine, in proper alignment. Often the rib cage will tend to lift up in the supine position or deviate forward in a sitting position, extending the thoracic spine. Pay particular attention while inhaling or elevating the arms. Engagement of the obliques will ensure proper alignment at all times.

When supine in neutral, maintain a sense of the weight of the ribs resting gently on the Mat, neither lifting away nor pushing into the Mat. Emphasize breathing three-dimensionally into the rib cage and abdomen during inhalation.

Allow the two sides of the rib cage to close toward each other during exhalation, softening the back of the rib cage toward the Mat. Avoid overly depressing the rib cage, which will flex the thoracic spine, possibly extending the cervical spine and may deactivate the transversus abdominis.

When flexing, the rib cage will slide toward the pelvis anteriorly. When extending, allow the rib cage to open to facilitate thoracic extension. It is important to not completely relax the abdominals during extension; otherwise a loss of spinal stability will result.

Experimenting with rib cage placement

Start supine, with pelvis and spine neutral. Knees flexed, feet abducted hip-distance apart on the Mat. Arms long by sides, palms down.

Arm Raises

Inhale Reach arms to the ceiling, palms facing one another.
Exhale Reach arms overhead, only as far as abdominal connection and contact between the rib cage and Mat can be maintained.
Inhale Reach arms to the ceiling.
Exhale Lower arms down by sides.
Starting position