What's wrong with this picture?
Yes, this model has an incredibly impressive physique, but I'm referring specifically to her posture. Her ribs, in particular, are the first thing I notice.
Rib flaring is an extremely common postural fault. I mainly see this in women, but there are many men who are guilty of flaring ribs as well.
You might be thinking, "you can only see her ribs because she's so lean!" or " maybe that's just the way her ribs are!" No. Her ribcage sits that way because of core instability and a lack of thoracic awareness.
If the ribcage protrudes in front of the hips, we cannot properly engage the rectus abdominis, and, thus, the function of the muscles around shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles will be compromised.
Additionally, the ribs will pull forward your center of gravity and affect your balance, along with your gait. Any movement will be altered, because your ribs are, quite literally, several steps ahead of you.
At the other end of the spectrum, take a look at Georges St. Pierre, a professional MMA fighter. You will notice that his core is rock solid and stable, unlike the bikini model in the above picture. Maybe that's why he's one of the most successful (and highest paid) fighters! Which of these individuals do you think has a stronger abdomen?
Someone's standing posture will tell you a lot about how their bodies will move during weighted exercises. Just imagine how both of these individuals will look once they press barbells overhead. The lifter with a flared ribcage will almost, 100% certainly, be hyperextended, while an individual with proper abdominal bracing can maintain a secure position.
Sometimes, a prominent ribcage will not be immediately visible while standing. In this case, I employ the wall slide test. If a client cannot bring their forearms to the wall without reaching their ribs forward, they fail the test. I now know that they have limitations in the shoulder, and I work from there.
|This model does NOT pass the test...|
When I see someone with ribs like the woman in the first photo, I immediately check their breathing. I am never surprised to see that these people abuse the muscles in their necks and chests to breathe rather than taking advantage of their diaphragms. Often, breathing alone will make a huge impact in the position of the ribs. Aside from doing breathing drills, I like to use the following exercises to teach my clients how to activate the muscles that retract the ribs:
Teaching proper joint alignment will allow for optimal posture and mechanics in all activities. Strive to employ better movement patterns. Don't lift weights you can't move without perfect technique. You may limit your risk of injury, and you will be much stronger in the long run. Keep your ribs down, and learn to utilize the core properly!