How To Improve Ribcage Mobility and Overhead performance

Fixing the way your ribcage moves can unlock vast improvements in mobility in the shoulders.

The bones in our ribcage are relatively pliable and flexible.  

However, just like other muscles and joints, they can become stiff and locked into restricted positions without care and activity.

How can we improve the way our ribcage moves?

By combining certain positions of the arms with focused and mindful breathing techniques, we can expand those locked up areas.

Here are three simple reaching patterns you can use to help unlock the specific areas of your upper body.

With each of these reaches breathe in the following manner:

1.  Gently exhale through mouth as if you were trying to fog up a window, feeling the sides of your abs tension up throughout the exhalation.
2.  Hold breath for 5 seconds.  
3.  Place tongue on roof of mouth and behind the incisors.
4.  Inhale through the nose gently, drawing air into the lungs slowly and expanding the ribcage in 360 degrees.  The belly and ribcage should rise and expand concurrently.

No matter the position in which you are trying to improve, hold each position for one cycle of 5 breaths, with more time spent exhaling than inhaling.

Keep your neck and shoulders relaxed in order to prevent those areas from assisting in breathing.

  1. Arms Pointed Down (0-60 degrees), Palms Pointed Up or Facing Each Other.
    1. Improves expansion of the back (posterior) side of the ribcage.
    2. Sitting or standing tall targets lower (inferior) portions of ribcage.
      1. Good for folks with excessive lumbar extension and anterior (forward) pelvic tilt.
    3. Sitting or standing with rounded upper back targets middle portions of ribcage.
      1. Good for folks who struggle with knots in upper back or winged scapula.
  1. Arms Pointed Forward (60-110 degrees), Palms Pointed Down.
    1. Sitting or standing improves expansion of the front (anterior) side of upper ribcage.
      1. Good for folks with have forward rounded shoulders and limited overhead mobility.
  1. Arms Pointed Overhead (120+ degrees), Palms Pointed Up or Facing Each Other.
    1. Sitting or standing improves expansion of upper posterior ribcage.
      1. Good for folks who struggle with restricted scapula upward rotation and scapula posterior tilt.
  2. Arms Pointed Overhead (120+ degrees), Palms Pointed Down
    1. Sitting or standing improves expansion of lower anterior ribcage.
      1. Good for folks who struggle with overhead movements and trunk rotation.