Are you experiencing Thoracic or Rib pain?
There can be many reasons for the onset of thoracic or rib pain and it is always advisable to seek assessment from your physiotherapist especially in the case of an acute injury.
However here are our key tips in reducing chronic thoracic, rib and upper spinal pain!
- Reduce your stress levels – It is very common that in periods of stress that your breathing pattern is altered which means your diaphragm and upper belly muscles can tighten up and you are left breathing in the top part of your lungs. Over a period of time, this can tighten the neck & shoulder muscles and can contribute to asymmetry in thoracic and rib movement. Learning methods of reducing your stress levels can help with you breathing pattern and can help with thoracic pain. Ideas for reducing your stress levels include:
- Spending time in nature– a simple walk on the beach, out with trees, forest or surrounding greenery has proven stress reduction benefits!
- Exercise– Getting your heart rate up is a great way to reduce stress! A bike ride, a swim, walking running or even a dance class with friends can boost your mood and reduce your stress levels.
- Meditation– Would you like to know more about mindful meditation for pain relief? Click here
- Your breathing pattern – If you can imagine your lungs as upside down broccoli, the best oxygen exchange occurs in the flowery parts at the base. It is very common in the presence of thoracic pain that the breathing pattern is altered not only from stress but from habitual breath patterning over a lifetime. Try lying on your side, and letting your belly relax and see if you can inhale- allowing your belly to expand as you inhale, before taking your breath into the side ribs and the rest of your body, and then slowly exhaling. Keeping the upper belly soft and allowing that to expand as you inhale, allows breath into the base of the lungs. Slow low belly breathing is a great technique to reduce stress and optimise your breathing pattern. Did you know your breathing pattern can also contribute to neck pain? Watch this short clip here!
- Posture – Your sitting posture will definitely have an impact on your thoracic spine and rib cage! If you work at a computer, it is important to optimise your work station in order to ensure that good posture is easy to achieve. Watch our 30 second computer-based yoga routine click here . Our key kips for improving your posture at your work station include:
- Ensure your hips are higher than your knees and your chair is close to the table
- Have the mouse and keyboard close to your body so that your elbows are at 90 degrees. If you extend you mouse further away, you will tend to over stretch your arm which can contribute to asymmetry in muscle tension.
- Ensure your screen height is at level of your eyes. If you work on a laptop for a long period of time, it is advisable to buy yourself an external keyboard so you can elevate your laptop screen to the right height and have your keyboard at elbow height that you can use close to your body.
- These key postural tips can assist in ensuring that you have the right work station set up and easier time on ensuring good posture.
- Movement – Movement is essential so that the thorax has a chance for regular movement throughout the day and if we are in work that involves prologued periods of sitting often our thoracic spine can get tight and immobile. Here are our favourite thoracic stretches with a foam roller- click here to see our short video.
- The most important tip for reducing thoracic pain is to ensure that you seek assessment. A Physiotherapist that has expertise in spinal problems can assist in the underlying cause of your pain. These might include joint restriction, muscle tension, muscle weakness or even problems into the neck or lower body that have affected your rib cage.