The Practical Applications of Rib Work


Hands on a skeleton touching the thoracic spine and ribs

In my practice, I’ve had clients report to me that receiving this work has helped them both physically and emotionally. I've also heard clients tell me that they've noticed they have more energy! It’s not surprising that working with a territory directly related to breath would have such a wide range of effects.


It's been my experience that because the ribs are working for us 24/7, they have a tendency to adapt really quickly. When a rib becomes fixed in a position of inhalation or exhalation, we can’t just stop breathing, so our bodies immediately adapt to that rib being fixed in place. This often results in clients taking shorter breaths, sometimes noticeably shorter and sometimes not. The effects of this adaptation can also spread wider than the focal point of the actual dysfunction in the rib cage. It can manifest in neck pain, shoulder pain, back pain, and so much more. Sometimes when I notice that a certain dysfunction keeps returning for my client, I start exploring how it could be connected to the ribs and sure enough, more often than not I find a stuck rib or a rotated vertebra is the culprit.


Another interesting application of rib work is with athletes. The ability to take full breaths and bring in as much oxygen as possible can make a huge difference in an athlete's ability to perform. I have helped runners, weightlifters, swimmers, and more with detailed rib work and received reports of easier breathing and more stamina in their performance.

A final interesting note I want to make about the applications of rib work is the emotional component that can show up. I’ve noticed that this area tends to be one of those places that can hold a lot of emotion for clients. It definitely isn’t something that every person I’ve worked with reports, but I’ve had some people experience some interesting and profound emotional responses to work in this territory. It’s not something that I strive to elicit from my clients in my practice, but occasionally my work goes beyond just the physical and an emotional or energetic component enters the space. For some reason the ribs seem to be one of those places where that happens.


Learn how to work the Thoracic Spine & Ribs with confidence to help your clients breath better in our online course here!

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