The Importance of Rib Movement

Ribs are designed to move by virtue of their attachment to the sternum via the costal cartiledge and their attachment to the spine via joints. The costal cartiledge is spongy and flexible, allowing the ribs to swing up and out. In fact, when the ribs swing up and out upon inhalation, they twist the cartiledge, storing energy in the cartiledge. When we exhale, the energy is released, in a phenomenon known as elastic recoil.

It’s the ribs moving that causes the thoracic cavity to expand in volume and the air to rush in.

It’s not the air rushing in that causes the ribs to move – that’s backwards! Rib motion is a primary motion of breathing.

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  1. #1 by Kyle on April 22, 2011 - 12:16 am

    I’ve read a couple of things on here that seem to conflict.

    1) “It’s the ribs moving that causes the thoracic cavity to expand in volume and the air to rush in.

    It’s not the air rushing in that causes the ribs to move – that’s backwards! Rib motion is a primary motion of breathing.”

    2) “Breathe to expand, don’t expand to breathe.” – Arnold Jacobs (on the Breathing Quote page)

    It seems to me that the first is saying that rib movement causes air to enter the lungs, but the second says that the air entering the lungs causes the ribs to move. Is there a contradiction, or am I just not understanding these quotes correctly?

    -Kyle

  2. #2 by viningda on April 22, 2011 - 1:28 pm

    Hi Kyle,

    Thanks for your comment.

    When Mr. Jacobs said “don’t breathe to expand” he was referring to folks who use expansion (in this case, abdominal) as their incentive for bringing air in. What he means by this is it would be a mistake to look at yourself in a mirror and make something expand just for the sake of doing so – that is, just to satisfy some abstract notion that there should be a certain sort of expansion that looks a certain way.

    The danger is the expansion can be achieved without actually breathing. Mr. Jacobs’ quote does not mean the expansion does not exist – in means one must allow the expansion to occur naturally and as an organic result of breathing.

    DV

  3. #3 by Geetha.d on January 24, 2013 - 6:21 pm

    Hi,
    i loved this post.

    Iam an alexander technique student and i seen some alexander technique elements in your post.

    Thank you.

  4. #4 by Geetha.d on January 24, 2013 - 6:29 pm

    ”expand to breathe, but not breathe to expand”

    what a amazing quote!!

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