Pilates Basic Principle - Rib Cage Area
Rib Cage Area
The goal of observing the rib cage area is to identify and achieve a neutral rib cage. When the rib cage is in a neutral position the body can move in a more efficient way free of pain.
Rib Cage Alignment for Pilates
A good test is to lie on the floor, with your stomach facing up. A neutral position for the ribs is one where the ribs are resting, not pressing, into the floor. The ribs will not lift away from the floor, nor will they jam into the floor.
You will find that your abdominal muscles will be recruited in maintaining the proper alignment of the ribs.
Rib Cage Movement in Pilates
The rib cage is directly connected to the spine and the abdominal muscles. As the spine moves it is important to allow the rib cage to gently follow. When the spine:
- Extends (moves slightly up behind the hips in an arced way) the ribs should gently open up
- Flexes (moves down slightly forward of the hips in a curved way) the ribs should gently close in and down
Throughout all of this movement it is important for the abdominal muscles to maintain connection; if it is lost then the spine no longer has support. Look! You did learn something new!
Pilates Rib Cage Placement Exercise
1. Lie on your pilates mat, with stomach facing up and knees bent with feet flat on the floor.
2. Take your arms from by your side to slowly toward your ears.
3. NOT SO FAST! Slow down….
4. The idea is that your arms can only go as far towards your ears as your ribs can maintain contact to the mat. As soon as the ribs pop up you no longer have a neutral rib cage. This would be the equivalent of standing up, raising both arms, and letting your rib cage totally splay out forward. Yes… very attractive.
Trying this while lying down is great because you have some tactile feedback, the floor.
Rib Cage versus Pelvic Placement
People forget that â€śribsâ€ť do not also mean â€śpelvic area.â€ť When doing this exercise try to maintain a neutral pelvis. Initially it might be difficult to execute both the pelvic and rib cage placements at once.
For instance, it is a stretch (literally) for some people to create a neutral pelvis and neutral rib cage. A few common tendencies are:
- “In order to create a neutral pelvis I have to lift my rib cage off the mat a little.”
- “In order to create an imprinted position I have to press my ribs into the mat.”
Don’t worry! Just keep practicing! One of the great things about pilates is that through our practice we gain stability and mobility and this applies to your neutral basic principles. So just keep practicing with a diligent mind and put your awareness there. Let your pilates instructor know that this is an area you are working on.
As you go through your day think about where your rib cage is in relation to your pelvis. When I am standing in line at the grocery store I often find that my back is slightly swayed behind my pelvis.
The first step to correcting mis-alignments or bad habits is awareness! I know my tendency so I check for it more frequently and then think about aligning my rib cage on top, instead of behind, my pelvis.
Want to hear more? Check for another article about posture and pilates!
You Just Learned Rib Cage Placement
- Why neutral position of the rib cage is important
- How the rib cage moves in relation to the spine
- How to find your own neutral rib cage
- Want to learn more pilates principles? Check out this overview of the pilates basic principles.