Fitness Magazine

The Ribs: My Nemesis

By Heather Murphy @MrsMurphysLOF

As you guys know, I’ve been delving deeper into my Pilates practice. Although I’ve loved every minute of it, I feel like the more I learn, the more I realize how much I don’t know.  I’ve been going about my business thinking I’ve gotten pretty good at this fitness stuff, and BAM! Pilates kicks me in the glutes (quite literally).

My most recent issue has been some serious ‘rib popping’. On the reformer, doing bridges; just standing in a neutral position is challenging.

benefits of good posture

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When lying on the floor in neutral, your shoulder blades should press lightly against the mat, the sacrum is firmly planted on the ground with the sit bones facing the wall, and all twelve ribs should touch the floor. Oh, and don’t forget to keep intact the natural curvature of the spine — meaning no tucking or rising the mid- back off the floor.

neutral-spine in supine

Photo from

Keeping the ribs on the mat is where it gets sticky for me, and after doing lots of research and training, I’ve discovered it all comes back to the abdominals. I’ve been so concerned with finding my ‘deep’ transverse abdominis, I have completely forgotten about my superficial abdominal muscles, leaving the ribs popping out. I’m simply not engaging the core enough.

Your rectus abdominis muscle is attached to the cartilage of the fifth rib, thus making a nice, contracted core crucial for keeping the ribs from popping out. 

Basically, it’s not enough to focus on that deep transverse abdominis muscle; you must contract your entire core, starting with the pelvis floor and working your way up to the rectus abdominis.

It is not a quick fix, people. Don’t get frustrated if you aren’t ‘cured’ after a week. You must retrain your body and brain, focusing on this weakness and putting forth every ounce of effort toward correcting it.

This is where I am right now, and it is not an easy place to be. There is a lot of discipline and hard work involved, but it has been worth it to find the mind/body connection that is so important with any exercise you do.

pilates quote

Do I have any Pilates gurus out there that would like to chime in?

Do you find it easy to have good posture throughout the day, or are you constantly reminding yourself to keep your shoulders ‘back and down’?

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