How to fix Flared Ribs

What are Flared Ribs?

When you have flared ribs, the lower portion at the front of your rib cage protrudes forwards and out.

It is associated with an increased arch of the lower back.

Ideally – The rib cage should feed directly into the pelvis.

// What are the causes?

a) Weak abdominal muscles

The abdominal muscles are responsible for tilting the rib cage downwards and inwards into a more neutral position.

b) Hyperlordosis

flared ribs

Overactive/tight muscles (such as the quadratus lumborum, paraspinal erectors and latissimuss dorsi) can cause an excessive arch in the lower back which results in a rib flare.

Hyperlordosis is associated with an anterior pelvic tilt.

c) Ineffective breathing

The diaphragm is the primary muscle that is responsible for breathing.

Ineffective breathing will result in the recruitment of compensatory muscles to assist with respiration.

As a result, over-activity of these muscles can lead to flared ribs.

d) Lack of true shoulder flexion

When reaching over head –  if you lack true shoulder mobility, your ribs will tend to flare out as a compensation as you tilt your torso backwards.

e) Pectus excavatum

Image from Mayo clinic.

This is a congenital chest wall deformation which involves the ribs/sternum causing a sunken chest appearance.

As this is of genetic origins, we are unfortunately unable to significantly impact this.

 “… Do I have it a rib flare?”

You should be able to visibly see if your ribs are flaring outwards.

If in doubt, do this:

Instructions:

  • Whilst standing, place both of your hands on your stomach.
    • (slightly below the lower section of the front of your ribs.)
  • Proceed to push and drag your hands up towards your chest.
  • If you can feel your lower ribs significantly protruding outwards, then it is likely that you have flared ribs!

How to fix Flared Ribs

Image courtesy of farconville at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Note: Please make sure that you perform all of these exercises in a pain-free and gentle manner. 


1. Releases

a) Lower back

Instructions:

  • Place a massage ball underneath the muscles of your lower back.
  • Apply an appropriate amount of body weight on top of the ball.
  • You may perform gentle circular motions to increase the pressure.
  • Aim for 1 minute on each side of the spine.

b) Latissimus dorsi

Instructions:

  • Place the side of your upper body on top of a foam roller. (see above)
  • Apply an appropriate amount of body weight.
  • Proceed to roll up and down.
  • Continue for 1 minute.
  • Repeat on other side.

2. Stretches

a) Lower back

Instructions:

  • Whilst sitting, lean all the way forward.
  • Aim to feel a stretch in your lower back.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.
  • Repeat 1-3 times.

b) Latissimus dorsi

Instructions:

  • Whilst standing side ways to a door frame, tilt your torso by reaching over with the arm that is furthest away from the wall.
  • Firmly anchor this arm by grabbing onto the side of the door frame.
  • Lean away from the anchored arm.
  • Aim to feel a stretch on the side of the body.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.
  • Repeat 3 times.
  • Do both sides.

3. Breathing and the Core

Before you start any strengthening exercises to fix your flared ribs, it is ESSENTIAL to understand how to:

a) engage your core muscles,

b) breathe properly/efficiently and,

c) maintain optimal alignment.

(… all at the same time!)

Here’s how to do it…

The Core breathing complex:

Instructions:

  • Assume the position as shown above.
  • Breathe in.
  • As you breathe out,  slowly push out ALL of the air out of your lungs:
    • Engage your core muscles (“draw belly button in AND gently tense your abdominal muscles”)
    • Lower your rib cage
    • Flatten your lower back completely
  • Whilst maintaining this position, breathe in towards your abdominal region.
    • Imagine the whole circumference of your torso/abdominal region inflate.
    • Breathe out: Force the air out of your lungs as you engage your abdominal muscles.
  • Keep your neck and chest completely relaxed.
  • Repeat 10 times. (… or as long as it takes to get it correct!)

** Note This specific contraction MUST be performed throughout all of the following exercises. **

4. Strengthening


I have arranged these strengthening exercises to reduce flared ribs in order of increasing level of difficulty.

You do NOT need to do all of them.

Pick 1-3 exercises that are challenging and progress as appropriate.


a) Dead bug (with arm drop)

Instructions:

  • Assume the dead bug position. (see above)
  • Activate the Core Breathing Complex.
  • Lower your arm/s down behind you as far as you can go.
    • Breathe OUT as you do it.
    • Breathe IN as you return to the starting position.
  • Keep your lower back completely flat on the ground.
  • Repeat 10 times.
  • To progress: Hold onto a weight

b) Dead bug (with leg drop)

Instructions:

  • Assume the dead bug position. (see above)
  • Activate the Core Breathing Complex.
  • Lower your leg as far as you can go.
    • Breathe OUT as you do this.
    • Breathe IN as you return to the starting position.
  • Keep your lower back completely flat on the ground.
  • Alternate legs for 10 repetitions each.
  • To progress: Drop both legs together.

c) Shoulder flexion with bar

Instructions:

  • Sit up right on a chair.
  • Activate the Core Breathing Complex.
  • Whilst holding onto a bar, raise the bar over your head.
    • Breathe OUT as you do this.
    • Breathe IN as you bring you arms down.
  • Do NOT let your ribs to flare outwards.
    • “Keep the ribs down”
  • Repeat 10 times.
  • To progress: Increase the speed.

d) Wall angel

Instructions:

  • Stand with your back to a wall.
  • Activate the Core Breathing Complex.
  • Keep your back and arms pulled backwards as to remain in contact with the wall throughout movements.
  • Place your arms in the ‘W’ starting position.
  • Transition to ‘I’ position.
    •  Breathe OUT as you do this.
    • Breathe IN as you return to the “W” starting position.
  • Do NOT let your ribs flare.
    • Keep the lower back flat on the wall.
  • Repeat 10 times.

e) Plank

Instructions:

  • Get into the plank position. (see above)
  • Activate the Core Breathing Complex.
  • Make sure your lower back does NOT sink in.
    • Keep the core engaged.
  • Hold for 30 seconds.
  • Repeat 3 times.

f) Pull downs

Instructions:

  • Whilst standing with a slight forward lean, pull the resistance band downwards.
  •  Activate the Core Breathing Complex
  • Slowly let your arms recoil to the over head position.
    • Breathe OUT as you do this.
  • Your torso should not move during this exercise.
  • Pull the resistance band back to starting position.
    • Breathe IN as you do this.
  • Repeat 10 times.

g) Pull overs

Instructions:

  • Lie on the floor whilst holding onto a weight in the air.
  • Activate the Core Breathing Complex.
  • Slowly lower the weight as far as you can go.
    • Breathe OUT as you do this.
  • Bring the weight back to the starting position.
    • Breathe IN as you do this.
  • Do not let your ribs flare upwards.
  • Repeat 10 times.

h) Roll outs

Instructions:

  • Grab an exercise ball.
  • Whilst kneeling, place your forearms onto the ball.
  • Activate the Core Breathing Complex.
  • Proceed apply your body weight onto the ball as you roll it as far forward as you can.
    • Breathe OUT as you roll forward.
    • Breathe IN as you return to starting position
  • Repeat 10 times.

5. Improving function

Throughout the day, make sure that you are consciously maintaining your ribs in a neutral position.

Remember – “Keep the ribs down”

As you get better with these exercises, the aim is to get your ribs to NATURALLY adopt this position.

“Mark!… What happens if the rib flare is more on ONE SIDE?”

Great question!

It is actually very common to have a more prominent rib flare on one side.

Without getting into too much detail as to why this occurs, it is essentially related to how your torso is orientated. (… more on this in another post)

Here’s what to do: Focus MORE on keeping the side of the more prominent rib flare DOWN whilst performing the above exercises.


READ THIS:

As you correct your flared ribs, you may actually find that your upper body becomes more hunched over.

Wait a minute, Mark… Are you saying that when you fix one problem, another develops?

Yes – Since your current posture is based on you having a rib flare, by correcting it, other parts of the body may go out of alignment.

Be sure to check this and this post to help you with these problem!


What to do next…

1. Any questions?… (Leave me a comment down below.)

2. Come join me on the Facebook page. Let’s keep in touch!

3. Start doing the exercises!

About

I am a physiotherapist who has personally experienced the pain as a result of bad posture. I would like to offer you some of the solutions that I and my patients have greatly benefited from.

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124 thoughts on “How to fix Flared Ribs

  1. Hello mark

    I am from the Netherlands and i am 17 years old. I have on the left side a flared rib and i hate it. I have almost a sixpack and i do fitness. How long do i need to say bye at my flared rib with your exercises?
    Please let me now and also a thanks for the exercises.
    Greetings
    Robin

  2. Hello Mark, I am recovering from a Pectus Excavatum surgery and I am wondering what the best exercises are for completely getting rid of this rib flare
    Thanks

  3. Hi mark, I’ve had flared ribs for a long time and never knew what it was until I saw this article. So helpful and seeing what caused it it’s my lack of true shoulder flexion, but I have a few questions. I have scoliosis and I was born with fused vertebrae‘s in my lower back so it’s very hard for me to get that true Flexion that causes the rib flares. Are these exercises still recommend? I’m just afraid that I’ll try to work on it but it’ll just come back.

    1. Hey Jordan,

      You can still do these exercises to address your Rib flare.

      On top of doing shoulder exercises to help improve your shoulder mobility, I would also recommend:
      1. Stretch the chest wall.
      2. Regaining control of the scapula (Google: Scapula CARs)
      3. Stretch out the latissimus dorsi and triceps

      Mark

  4. Hey mark, ive noticed my rib flare as I’ve gotten older and I was wondering by doing these exercises everyday, how long will it take? In other words how long did it take you because I’m 15 years old.

  5. Hi Mark,
    Have you ever heard of flared ribs causing digestive problems (like reflux) or problems with appetite/eating?

  6. Hi there! I messaged you in private on Facebook, but got an automated message which redirected me to under the blogs (aka the comments).
    I’d like to ask for advice.
    I’ve got APT (Anterior pelvic tilt), which I’ve somewhat changed from severe (former overweight PC gamer and current digital artist) to mild, sagging shoulder, one-sided neck immobility, 1 flared side of the ribs (which I thought was muscullar imbalance, but I learned more about flared ribs) and winged scapula. I’ve read that every group of stretches should be done 2x a week or more, but having to spend 2+ hours a day is very hard to fit in my schedule. Any tips or advice. Which should I prioritize until at least the summer vacation? Thank you in advance!

    1. Hey Hey Mario,

      My recommendation is to try out all of the exercises first.

      From here – you will need to determine which exact exercises are helping you out the most.

      As everyone is different and needs to focus on different things, it is a bit hard to tell you which ones are the best to prioritize.

      I would pick one postural deviation that is affecting most of your symptoms, and focus on that for now. Tend to the others ones once you are happy with the your progression with the one you are currently working on.

      Mark

      1. is it possible to have a rib flare on one side only and still have it be intierly muscular and not be a malformation or the bone or cartilage ?

  7. Hi Mark!

    I have been dealing with very tight ribs for so long and Im so happy I found your post! I was a dancer my whole life, however I got badly injured and herniated my disc. Even before my injury, I remember my ribs always protruding out. I have a problem now, that whenever I workout or do any type of exercises, my ribs become so tight and overwork so much that I have to stop and stretch. Additionally, my upper back is always tight and in spasm. Im not able to do any type of work out or exercises because my upper back gets really tight and begins to pinch. When I try to do exercises for my core, I find that I still only use my ribs. For example when I do a plank, my ribs and upper back overwork so much that they both begin to hurt and I have to stop. Any suggestions?

    1. Hey Tal,

      Hard to say exactly what’s happening without seeing you, but my first guess would be to check your anterior abdominal strength.

      This area helps pull the lower ribs down.

      This is especially important during the plank.

      You might need to regress to an inclined position (eg. forearms on a bench) to allow you to engage the appropriate muscles properly.

      Mark

  8. Hi Mark,
    I wanted to let you know how helpful this article has been in solving a problem I’ve had regarding how to sit during meditation. When sitting quietly and focusing on breathing, I would do my best to “sit up straight “, but what ultimately happened was I would take a deep chest breath and push the bottoms of my ribs forward . I would keep that same posture throughout the meditation and ended up feeling tense and short of breath. It was making meditation a very stressful experience. The reason I found your article is that I’ve had realizations from running and walking that I can move more easily when the muscles right below the ribs are contracting so i was curious as I love knowing how things work. When Googling about the muscles below ribs, I found your post and it also mentioned breathing, which made me even more curious. I think that having my ribs up and out was keeping my abdominal muscles in a continuous stretch that didn’t allow me to breath comfortably. I was automatically breathing just fine in every day life, but when I was making an “effort” to sit up straight, I made things worse. I’ve changed my meditation posture and am able to sit comfortably and breathe easily without effort. I’ll also use your recommended exercises to keep strengthening my body. I was really struggling to breath during meditation and couldn’t understand why! Thank you so much for your excellent article.

  9. Hi Mark,
    I’ve seen you’ve answered to a few people about rip braces, but my question is related to flared ribs due to paralysis. On one side of my body I have flared ribs because I dont have as much core strength, the other side is fine because i have miniscule core strength.
    Would braces be a good strategy to get my ribs back in place due to lack of core function? If so, how often should i wear the brace?
    Thanks!

    1. Hi Davis,

      I generally haven’t had to prescribe a brace for flared ribs before.

      I usually find that the appropriate exercises are able to address this issue.

      However – if you really wanted to wear a brace, I would only wear it when you are loading your body more than what it can handle.

      Mark

  10. Hi Mark,

    I’ve had flared ribs for some time now, and by reading all these posts I can see why! I’m a 52 y o mom of 2 and I’ve recently (2 1/2 months ago) had spinal fusion from L5 to T10 to correct scoliosis. I was an athlete all my life, but back pain over the past 6 months, and then recuperation from the surgery has left me WAY out of shape, as you might imagine. I’m also a sloucher and have to work hard just to remember to stand up straight. I work on the computer all day for my job so that doesn’t help. Are there modifications for some of these exercises for my situation?
    Thanks!
    Joanna

    1. Hi Joanna,

      You should be able to do all the exercises. (But if there are doubts, you should ask the surgeon)

      There may be some limitations on how far you can push your spine due to the fusion. Focus on getting as much movement as you can throughout the exercise, but also make sure you aren’t forcing your spine into positions that fusion won’t allow.

      Mark

  11. i had restarted circuit weight training after a gap of nearly 1 year and after few weeks i started getting on the lower rib cage on sides sections of both right and left … although it started with lower back pain initially for a week but that ok now but its shifted to both of the lowers rib sides and its been nearly a week as well.

    is there any exercise which can cure this pain

  12. Hi,
    I came across your post while I was searching for my problem and I guess I have a flared rib. I would like to start treating my self and I would really appreciate your advice on What to begin with first. It is also would be useful if u could post a video for all the exercises related to this post.
    Very much appreciate your assistant

    1. Hey Rana,

      I would start doing the exercises mentioned in the blog post. From here, see what exercises benefit you the most and stick with those.

      Mark

  13. Dear Mark, I am so glad I have found yoir page of invaluable information.
    I had 4 x 10 pound baby boys in 2 yr spacing. My youngest is 10 and I feel my body has taken a toll. Most notably is my rib flare and general bad posture.
    I love to exercise (mostly cadio) but I am going to also add the above exercises.
    I am thinking if I do them 3 x a day? I was wondering if you think pilates might help also?

      1. Hey mark i didn’t know where to post. I have this wicked scapula tension that is causing me serious pain. It has been with all day. Normally i can warm up and stretch it out. Been trying all day. Nothing. So I went for the ibuprofen. Still… nothing. I was born with out a right pectoral muscle. I have the minor but not the major. How would that affect me when I do my weights/yoga/etc?

        I am over this. Thoughts?

        Best,
        ZMO

        1. Hey Zazhary,

          If you have pain between the shoulder blades, I would check this blog post out:

          Shoulder blade pain

          If you do no have a pec major, your shoulder may not be as strong when it come to weights/yoga. (But – the good news is that the body will learn to adapt to the stress!)

          Mark

          1. Hey Mark, is there something I can do if I can’t even put my full back flat on the wall while standing? And also how do you keep your ribs down?

          2. Hey Carson,

            The exercises (esp. the stretches) are designed to help it make it easier to keep your ribs down and back flat.

            However- it does take time for your tight structures to release to allow this to happen.

            Try your best to keep it flat. Don’t worry too much if it is not 100% flat. Do the best you can, and over time, it should become even flatter.

            Mark

  14. Hi Mark!

    Just about exactly 2 years ago I was in fantastic shape working out for many years I am a female 5’5” 120 lbs I have a solid core very toned and muscular with a lot of the weight that I carried because I am very slender by nature. A few years back I lifted a very very heavy box moving my office for my business and at the same time as being very careful with my lower back and I know I injured something because I haven’t been the same since. From what I can tell I may have back rib flare. If I lay down on my back it feels like my right rib is elevated a little bit more than the left rib and if you tried to put an arm underneath my back lower back just below my rib cage you can do it easily on the right side but not the left. I have very limited motion because my muscles from what I’ve been told from my normal chiropractor he’s never seen such tight muscles and I also get very limited range of motion trying to put socks on or getting out of bed it’s like I have no bend at all or flexibility . . it’s like I am stuck in an upright position with no give at all. I also get at time some numbness in the right hip pelvic region and with some discomfort and tightness in that area of it also at times will come down the front of my right quad . And to add, I can’t even sit down on the couch and lay back and relax because I have what seems to be a crooked stance and it causes my muscles to get so tight and uncomfortable . I can’t lay back and have my back just fall into the couch because the muscles are so tight there is no give and it’s very uncomfortable. I have to sit upright in a chair I can’t lean back or relax because like I said the right side below my rib cage has a big concave indent And the left side is just straight now and right side doesn’t seem to maybe be in line with my pelvis. I am at my wits end and I know that there’s got to be a way to get myself back so I can work out again and feel good because I can’t do much at all even driving in the car sitting back is uncomfortable. I am desperate for some answers to get my life back I can’t even tell you how uncomfortable this is. I took some xrays and back looks ok with no ruptures or bulged disc issues. I know I must have pulled something out of alignment. This is my guess. Please can you help!? THANK YOU KINDLY!❤️🙏

    1. Hi Diega,

      The first thing you should prioritize is getting your normal movement back. After this – you can go for your postural issues.

      It sounds like the muscles on the right side of your spine are locked in EXTENSION up which could be as a response to how you picked up the heavy box.

      As there is no significant findings on your scans, there should be no reason why you can’t get your back moving again 🙂

      Here are some exercises that might help:

      1. (See image)

      2. (See image)

      3. Sit slightly slouched and try to breathe into the area where it hurts. This will help reduce the tone of the muscles.

      Make sure that these exercises are pain-free and comfortable to perform.

      (If in any doubt, please consult with your chiropractor)

      Mark

  15. Hi Mark,

    I’ve been a long-distance swimmer for over 15 years now and have just recently retired and am happily maintaining a normal active life. As I’ve been adjusting, I’ve been really trying to improve my posture as I think overuse has contributed heavily to my pain and discomfort over the years.

    I have pretty heavily flared ribs and slumped shoulders, which I’ve attributed to 5+ hours of freestyle over the years. My shoulders are only comfortable above my head or resting higher up, similar to how I use to swim. No matter how hard I try, I sleep better on my stomach and often end up so. If I try to correct my rib flare, my shoulders slump further. If I try to fix my shoulders, my ribs flare out worse than ever.

    Additionally, I have an anterior pelvic tilt. I used to have imbalanced hips as a result, but with a shoe lift and some strengthening exercises, theyre back in alignment. But basically, as a result, I have trouble keeping my spine aligned and can’t kesp my muscles loose no matter how hard I try. I’m trying to run and such, but my hip flexors, calves, and chest/shoulders get so tight so easily.

    Essentially, what I’m asking is, where do I start? There’s a lot of moving pieces and they’re all connected. I’d say my rib flare is most prominent and easy to spot right on. Where do I start?

    Signed,
    Tight + confused

  16. Hi. I am a 47 year old woman with three kids. I was a gymnast, and when my kids go to the trampoline park, I bounce with them. I have re-learned a lot of my old tricks. Yesterday I was there doing a trick I’ve done a million times- jump off block, bounce into “barani” then directly into a back layout- but after it I started to jump again and had sharp pain in my lower left ribs with every bounce. The trick itself did not hurt, just after, which was weird. It has continued to hurt since then, the type of sharp sudden pain that makes you catch your breath and stop. When I look in a mirror and raise my chest a bit, my ribs on both sides pop out like in the first image in your post (without the muscles!) as they always have as long as I can remember, since earliest childhood. However now, on the left, one rib is very prominent and appears distinctly “out of place”. Even my husband could see it, which is saying something.

    Background- I was born with a clubfoot, had surgery at age 3 after casting and Dennis Brown shoes didn’t work, and am left with a left leg that has a skinny calf (“stork leg deformity”) and is anatomically a full inch shorter than my right. This caused a 10° functional scoliosis, and in my 20’s I began wearing a 1 inch lift in my left shoe. That was after my gymnastics career had finished, and yes I had low back pain and began seeing a chiropractor, which helped. I then became a chiropractor myself!

    Reading your excellent article shed so much light on all kinds of things for me, despite the fact that I myself have some training that is more PT-like than the average chiropractor and I am very aware of the importance of spinal stability training to prevent re-injury, etc. My question to you is, can these exercises be done in an acute situation like mine? I highly doubt that I broke anything, no direct impact to my ribs and no breathing issues, and no osteoporosis that I know of. I am generally very fit for a 47 year old, normal weight and very flexible. Thoughts? Thank you in advance.
    -Amy

    1. Hello Amy,

      If the pain is distinctively along the lower left ribs, it may possible be a strain to the muscles that attach that area (I am leaning towards your obliques as they control your torso rotation. Perhaps even intercostals but less likely if your breathing is fine)

      If it isn’t that, then my next guess would be referred pain from the spine, maybe around T7-9?

      Any changes to the tone in the muscles around the area can cause a rib to “go out of place”. If you try to slide it back into place and take 5 deep breaths, is there any tension?

      Mark

  17. Off topic, but how did you get you legs to be that thick 😮 I want that. Do you have a specific lower body routine? Talking about both calves and thighs.

    1. Haha! This is the best comment yet!

      I do a lot of unilateral work with my legs.

      Eg. split stance dead lift, lunges, calf raises (standing and sitting), leg press.

      All the usual stuff for legs!

      Good luck.

      Mark

  18. I have weak hip flexors caused by neuropathy in my lower legs. I attend Barre Class 5 days a week. I cannot master the roll up while laying down. One of the members is a nurse and showed me how my ribs should be (she had me lay on my back and pulled them inward). The sensation was incredible. I had no idea my ribs were flaring but did notice they protrude especially when laying down. The member also commented that she watched my hip raises and that I arch my back too much which can add to the ribs sticking out. My abs are weak but not for lack of trying on my part. Do you have any insight? I just can’t get over the feeling of someone closing my ribs for me. It felt like a huge weight was lifted off my body and my mind.

    1. Hey Meems,

      Regarding the rib flare:

      On top of weak abdominals and a hyper extended lower back, I would also check if you have:
      1. an exaggerated thoracic kyphosis.

      2. Tight hip flexors

      3. Forward head posture

      All of the above can make the rib flare more prominent when lying on your back.

      Having weak hip flexors will make the roll up exercise quite difficult as you rely on both the abdominal and hip flexor muscle group to control the torso. If you are having difficulty with this movement, I would suggest that you hold onto a resistance band in front of you so that you can use your arms to help pull yourself up/lower down.

      As you get better, use a thinner resistance band. And then eventually, no band at all.

      MArk

  19. Heyy Mark,I having problem with my misplaced ribs due to an accident several years ago.My front ribs seem to be likely sank inwards.It doesn’t look normal to me.

  20. I found your page searching for a solution. Currently I’m under acuupunture therapy due to gallbladder meridian issues. I’ve observed that the ribs on the left side come outside like swelling. Same with the first bone from the cest box. On the same time another swelling but at muscles level on the pelvis area. If you have some posture solutions would be good. Thank you.

    1. Hi Ioana,

      Hard to say without an assessment, but it sounds like there may be some rotations/translations in the rib cage which may be leading to symptoms you have described.

      I don’t have a blog post on this unfortunately.

      Mark

  21. Hello mark.
    I saw one commenter stating that his flared ribs make it hard to see results from his abdominal workouts. I have flared ribs so im wondering is it because it makes your stomach stick out more? Also i was born with my flared ribs. Will they exercises help me or do they only help with someone who has developed them over time.
    Thank you.

    1. Hi Dempsey,

      If your ribs are genetically and structurally that way, then there might be some limitations on how far you can improve them.

      That being said, making a few adjustments in the posture with the above exercises might help you out.

      Mark

  22. Hello Mark,

    I have horrible rib flare which is also making it hard for me to see results from my workouts on my stomach. I know my posture is bad as well. I have a slightly rounded back and feel like my shoulders are always hunched which I try to correct. I work on a computer 10 hours a day. My question is do I do all those exercises everyday to correct the rib flare?

    1. Hey Necia,

      You don’t need to do ALL of the exercises mentioned…but it’s a good idea to try them all out first to see which ones you feel your body responds to the best.

      Mark

  23. Hi, Mark. I had a twisting accident/trauma that dented in the ribs on my left side and flared out the lower ribs. Round about from true rib 3 to 7 is indented and the false ribs kind of flare outwards from beneath the dent (the floating ribs kind of stayed where they were below). I feel like the dent wants to repair itself over time but the flared-forward lower ribs keep a sort of tension on the true ribs and prevent healing. Is this flare fixable through exercises and which of your exercises would you recommend for this? Thanks.

    1. Hi Charlie,

      I’m having some difficulties visualising what you are describing.

      Is there a photo?

      Any rib flare at the front of the lower ribs will benefit from the mentioned exercises.

      Mark

      1. Hi Mark,

        Thanks. I uploaded a photo here — https://ibb.co/pWzXs4g

        As you look at the photo, the dent is just to the left of the lower sternum/xiphoid in the costal region. The flared-forward ribs are visible beneath.

        Would appreciate your thoughts. Thanks again.

  24. Hi Mark,

    So glad I came across your page on all these useful workouts. Atop of all these, do you recommend a brace as well? I’ve read conflicting reviews about them.
    Thanks a lot!

    xx,
    Yvia

    1. Hi,

      I am not a huge fan of braces purely because people get too reliant on it.

      I strongly believe that if you really focus on the exercises and posture awareness, you will not require braces.

      Mark

  25. Thank you for posting the information on rib flare. It is really helpful. I am having a bit of a problem and I have been to see my primary care doctor and a spine specialist both are saying the problem is muscular and doesn’t need surgery to correct. About two years ago I took a job the required that I work at computer for long hours ( up to 18 hours a day ) I got up and stretched up when I could, but it never seemed to help much. My problem started with my shoulders winging out to the side and hunching up . My clavicle has popped out of place on my right shoulder, and my left shoulder in stuck in a forward position, My chiropractor tells me I have rather sever forward head posture and my ribs in the front are crushed together . My thoracic spine is bent forward perpetually and my left side in twisted in up and my right side is twisting inward towards my back. I have three bi lateral bulging discs in my back at l3/l4,l4/l5, and l5/s1. My low back is stuck in a posterior tilted position I can’t seem to get it out of. My sacrum is stuck in a posterior position as well , my right ilium is severely twisted inward as is the rest of my leg. my right femur is rotated out and suck in an anterior superior position and my right foot’s arch has completely dropped. The entirety of my right leg is rotated inward and stuck in an anterior position including my knee. My right leg is stuck in a position where it looks longing then my left but it is not. My right hip has completely locked up and walking is extremely difficult as my pelvis is stuck in this position and i keep pulling muscles and spraining tendons when I try to walk. My left ilium is stuck in a forward position with my femur stuck rotated in ward my left leg is locked in a bent position and the muscle are guarding so much I cant fully straiten it. Both sides of my pubic bone feel like they are posterior making my leg twist inward and both my legs feel like they are bowing outward with all of my weight going on the out side of my legs and I am stuck walking on the out side of my foot on both feet. My muscle spasm all the time and the muscle guarding get so severe that I i am perpetually suck in a bent forward position ever when walking, I cant sit at all now, and I AM PULLING muscles and injuring ligaments and tendons just by standing up or walking. My leg and back muscles have gotten so tight that when I try to walk. I am stuck walking on the ball of my foot every time i talk a step I am missing the heel strike. I am in pain all of the time and this has pretty much destroyed my ability to lead a normal life. I have had a lot of blood work done and an MRI. I have ligament thickening on the ligament flavour around l4/l5 and l5/s1. Just laying down has become painful and I has become extremely;y difficult for me to move. i live in a rural area and the closest PT is 250 miles away advice would be appreciated as to what I should do excessive wise/ self corrections for my hip problems etc. or how I could sleep with out being in pain. I have gone to a massage therapist before and my muscles relaxed but It just made my pain worse, it felt like my joints just collapsed and my muscles would not support them.

    1. Great post! Question for you, what do you think is the cause of this outside of genetics/ Pectus? Would you say inhaling from sport/ fitness and the correlation from inhaling a lot from the high intensity eventually could make the rib cage stuck in inhalation? Or do you think it’s more or a weakness in the obliques that eventually just let the cage drift up from the battle of scalenes? Do you also think this is a cause of forward head and having the fhp be a compensation?

      1. Hey Mike,

        You are right. A lot of people with prominent rib flares are stuck in the inhalation phase.

        As a result, certain muscles are going to make the rib flare up/out and other muscles aren’t going to be able to resist this motion (eg. your obliques).

        In regards to breathing, your accessory muscles such as your SCM, scalenes (esp. the anterior) tend to be overworked. This can cause the head to migrate forward due to the muscular pull and/or the head will translate forward to help the accessory muscles work more efficiently.

        Mark

  26. Hey Mark!
    Thank you for this amazing help! I understand that it will take quite a while to fix this issue but I’m wondering how long until I see some results? Just so I can check and make sure that I’m doing everything correctly and am on the right track. Please let me know,
    Thank you!

  27. Hello,thanks for sharing these exercises with us! I would like to know whats your opinion about Pectus Carinatum, is there any way to get rid of it with exercises or the only two possible ways is surgery and building muscles to cover it??

    1. Hey Stefan,

      Pectus carinatum is a structural issue so there may be some limitations on how much you can affect it.

      Building up your chest muscles is a good way to reduce its appearance.

      Mark

  28. Hi Mark,
    Im quite young and have had a flared rib for as long as i can remember is this normal? They kind of go apart from eachother and stick out a lot. When i lie in bed my back raises and towards my lower back it doesn’t touch the matress, my ribs also stick out when lying down and I don’t know how to fix it as i also have a shoulder problem! This page is useful and i have only been doing the exercises for a week now but thabk you so much!

  29. Hello. I have flared ribs (mostly on the left side) and I’m starting these exercices. Are there any other things one can do throughout the day to contribute to those exercises (besides keeping good posture).

  30. hey Mark, I really like your page and hope that it will help me.
    I have two questions, 1: I kinda have flared ribs but under them i have like an indentation, what is that ?(more on one side) and this makes me wonder if my ribs are broken.
    second question, while i’m performing these exercises and use core breathing complex, I can sometimes hear a strange noise in my rib or in this area.
    Thank you.

    1. Hey Mat,

      The ‘indentation’ that you refer to is usually due to the flared ribs causing the lower ribs to flare outwards.

      Have you had any past injuries to the area ? Or born with a structurally different shaped rib cage?

      Mark

  31. Sir . I realized that I have rib flare recently this year , I’m Fourteen Years old. Will my ribs be go back to normal structure if i do these exercises

  32. Hi Mark, came across your articles earlier this year, and they are very informative! I have flared ribs due to incorrect breathing and have been doing some of these excercises for a bit, along with some attempts to strengthen my back muscles. How would you force yourself to breathe correctly when sleeping? Once I’m not cognitively engaged, my upper back tense up to anchor my rib cage, and I’ll be breathing with a relaxed core again. This causes a lot of pain in the morning, and since my back muscles are unable to rest, they can’t really develop. Thank you!

    1. Hi Meerkat,

      You will not be able to force yourself to breathe properly whilst sleeping as this is all under the unconscious control of the autonomic system.

      If breathing is your goal, a better way to achieve more efficient breathing is to get your joints and muscles to get you to assume a more neutral sleeping position to allow for the breathing muscles to naturally do their function.

      You may need to have a browse through these posts to help you out:

      Hyperlordosis
      Anterior pelvic tilt

      Mark

  33. Hi i am Ashish i have sunken chest and i have consulted the doctor cor which he says it caused due to lack of calcium i asked him if my chest can be corrected as i m 19 now for which he surgery is solution but don’t do that i am unsatisfied with his answer so can u tell me exercises to correct my sunken chest

  34. Hello , i have a ribflare that is only one my left side. i have heard this could be due to a (forwardly rotated left hemi-Pelvic) . Just wondering as you mentioned another post at the bottom of this one.

  35. hey, my left rib is flared and I’m rather young, so I was wondering on average how long it would take to shift it back into place, and if some type of tension around my ribs would contribute to the shifting of my flared rib back to normal.

    1. Hey Tim,

      In terms of how long it is going to take – this really varies from person to person.

      The best thing to do is to get started on those exercises asap!

      Mark

  36. Hi thank you for the post.
    I’ve only recently heard of titled rib cage, after seeing a physiotherapist who diagnosed me with this.

    I have hyper mobility and so hyper lordosis, which I’ve been activity trying to fix but to no avail for over 12months.

    I currently do whole body workouts and concentrate on stretching all my muscles but maybe that’s not enough?

    Would you recommend to stop exercising certain parts of the body, in order to correct the titled rib/hyper lordosis and then once it’s fixed, go back to regular exercise?
    If you think this is a good idea, which muscles in particular should I avoid exercising??

    Thanks Mark

    1. Hey Christine,

      You can continue your normal work outs, but I would perhaps prioritise anterior abdominal strengthening (eg. dead bugs exercises)

      Mark

    1. Hi Ankit,

      I’ll be 100% honest with you and tell you that I haven’t really seen anyone specifically for this issue.

      Although, there may be limitations on how much you can change a structural issue such as pectus excavatum, I am sure that it can at least be somewhat improved.

      Mark

    2. @Ankit, Athlean-X(Jeff Cavaliere) has some good exercises for Pectus Excavatum. I have read many different ppl who have done exercises to greatly improve this condition. Though the structure I imagine would stay the same, but the muscles surrounding it with certain exercises greatly improve it. I too have it, though not one doctor ever mentioned it to me. Many years ago I had a generic chest X-ray (check up) and when I got the paperwork on it, that’s when I saw I had this. Things are made worse when your posture is bad and the muscles are weak. Anyways, you should go on youtube and look up Athlean-x and put type in pectus excavatum.

  37. What if I have rib flare along with posterior pelvic tilt, even when my arms are down?

    It does get more noticeable when I raise my arms (I have rounded shoulders)

    1. Hi Max,

      You can still do the above exercises, however, you will also benefit from doing exercises specifically for the posterior pelvic tilt.

      With the dead bug exercise, you can also add a slight forward tilt in the pelvis if you are concerned that you will make your posterior tilt worse.

      Mark

  38. Hey Mark,
    This was really helpful. But I am still confused because apart from the rib flare I feel one particular rib on my right side protrudes more than the others. Is it something I should get checked with the doctor? I noticed little protrusion over the area around a year back and since then I’ve been pressing it to check for any abnormality. I wonder pressing that rib has made it protrude so much more now.
    Thanks.

  39. Hi Mark,
    I am 17 yrs old and I have my left rib inflated than the right so when in tighten my abs only the inflated sided abs are visible,what should I do to correct it ?

  40. Hi mark I’m 14 years old is it normal for me to have rib flare and I have abs but that my core muscles do not seem to be the problem

    1. Hey Hayden,

      If the muscles are not causing your rib flare, then the only remaining reason would be that your bones have formed in the flared position.

      Please also note that having strong 6 pack abs does not equate to a strong, functional core.

      Mark

      1. What would you do in this case then? I feel I also grew up with uncorrected flared ribs, how could I fix it? Because I just found out that this is a real thing and not just my ribs being strange all my life.

  41. Hi Mark,

    I was diagnosed with scapular dyskinesis and I the orthopedic believes I have a pinched nerve after shoulder and neck pain. Now where my ribs meet starts to hurt and I bought an abdominal binder and it makes the pain go away. Any suggestions while I wait for my physical therapist appointment? Also I ordered a posture brace on Amazon because I think it will help? Please let me know!

    Thanks,

    Danny

  42. Hi Mark,

    I am so glad I came across this post. Currently a college student, I was diagnosed with thoracic scoliosis in elementary school (it’s at 40 degrees now, not expected to worsen according to my doctor). Unfortunately, at the time, none of my doctors addressed the fact that I also had leg length discrepancy. My left leg is longer than my right, and as a result, my spine is also tilted to the right. After reading this, I realized that I have flared ribs and have problems with breathing and constipation. As a child, I always thought that those issues weren’t really issues. But I’ve been dealing with it for so long and as time passed, I’ve noticed the symptoms affecting my everyday lifestyle more and more. I plan on visiting a doctor again once I’m on break from school and addressing these concerns. However, I wanted a quick input from you. Based on the information I’ve provided, do you think a surgery is the only solution to fix my problems? To be honest, I don’t feel significant pain in my back. It’s just the rib and how it’s associated to my breathing and constipation problems. Thank you!

    1. Hey Josh,

      A combination of rib flare and scoliosis +/- pelvis issues can indeed impact your breathing and constipation issues. (but I would always consult a doctor to determine if there may be other causes)

      Having a rib flare already tells me your main breathing muscle (the diaphragm) is flattened out. This means it does not work efficiently to draw air deep into your lungs.

      A poor positioned rib cage may also be related to a poorly positioned pelvis which then can affect the toilet muscles.

      IF your issues are due to your posture and you can get your posture in a more neutral position, you should see improvements by correcting postural deviations.

      Addressing your rib flare is a good place to start. But I would consider see what is happening with your pelvis too!

      Mark

      1. I have a ribflare on only my left side, i have looked online and heard that i may have a forwardly rotated pelvic on that side. Could this also be a internally rotated hip and externally rotated hip causing this flare to occur. I also have a slighlty high hip on the side of the flare if that has any connection.

  43. Hey Mark,

    Just wondering if this is something that can be fixed at any age. I’m 28 and want to start correcting my posture. Also, how long would you predict for me to start seeing results if I did this every other day?

    Thanks!
    Josh

    1. Hi Josh,

      Yes – as long as your rib flare is not structural, then there is always something you can improve on.

      It takes at least 6 weeks to learn how to do these exercises efficiently, but it can take longer for it to be fixed.

      In terms of seeing any/some results, you should be able to see some improvement straight away once you can engage the right muscles.

      Mark

  44. Hello Mark, I’ve been checking out your tips for anterior pelvic tilt (amongst other things), and after a visit to my GP yesterday, discovered that I have flared ribs which account for a range of issues – tight hip flexors, jammed hips with limited external rotation, forward head posture, tight rib cage etc!!! These exercises are fantastic, thankyou. Your instructions are clear and i can easily visualise that which is not displayed. I will begin today… I’ll let you know how I get on. Cheers Catherine

  45. Hi, I wanted to wear corsets due to my posture, but can they fix this issue as well?
    Of course, still doing the exercises, but wearing a underbust corset for tight lacing, do you think it will help?

      1. Btw Mark,
        As the rib flare goes down, hunchback and rounded shoulders has been getting worse as you said. Would it be more effective to do the rounded shoulder stretches/exercises 2x/week or the hunchback stretches/exercises daily along with the rib flare exercises? I noticed there’s some overlapping info, but not sure which is more effective in this case or how often to do the exercises.
        Thanks again 🙂

        1. Hey Cara,

          If you have all the postural issues mentioned, then I would do all of the different exercises for them!

          As to which one to focus on, I feel that addressing the hunch back should take priority in most cases. (but not all!!)

          Mark

  46. Hey Mark!
    Why are my comments not showing? I commented on this article and on the Knee Valgus one. It showed that its waiting fr moderation and then disappeared? Help pls.
    Thanks!

    1. Hey Hey Rok,

      I went through all the recent comments and could not find your message in Knee valgus?

      Please re-submit and I’ll have a look 🙂

      Mark

  47. I just want to say HI and Thank you 😉
    All your posts are so awesome, I been following you for a while now and learn so much from you.
    Anna

  48. Great article. When you activate the core complex e.g. on wall angels why do you flatten your back? This outs you in posterior pelvic tilt also or is it neutral no?

    1. Hey Dave,

      Great observation!

      Ideally, you want a neutral pelvis (maybe even slight posterior pelvic tilt) with the ribs coming down.

      The focus would be on getting the back flight by depressing the front ribs as opposed to tucking your pelvis.

      Mark

  49. Hello Mark , thank you for publishing all this information and knowledge of yours on the internet I really apreciate it . I just discovered your blog today while searching for metods of fixing my rounded shoulders , anterior pelvic tilt and flared ribs (seems that when I search for one I find I have another ). And it seems I’ve found the right place , I will definittely start doing all this exercises . Altought I want to ask you something if you are kind to answer me , How long does it take to fix my problems or atleast to se results , and if I manage to fix my problems can I stop doing the exercises or should I continue with them ? Also if I don’t have a massage ball is there anything I can use instead ? Thank you again for your help .

    1. Hi Victor,

      It’s hard to say exactly how long it will take to completely fix it. You want to make sure that you see at least small improvements (either in your posture, or with ease of the exercise) each time.

      Once fixed, you should still continue to do them. (But you won’t have to do them as regularly.)

      If you don’t have a massage ball, anything that is firm and can press into your muscles will be fine.

      Mark

      1. Highmark my name is James Idol from Wilmington North Carolina I have a tight hip left side I have problems trying to stretch and getting it loose also my lower back on the left side I can never get it Loose where I can do squats every time I do a squat it ends up hurting me more is there anything different that I can do to make it stronger so I can do squats thank you

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