What is it?
Rib pain can be pretty painful, but how does it happen and why do you get it so many times? You may have rib pain because you have broken ribs. You get broken ribs because, like I did, you wreck on your bike and your ribs meet your handlebars. It’s not super fun and can definitely be painful. Luckily there are a few things that you can do to help decrease the pain. If you have x-rays and you’re cleared for having rib fractures that are displaced or anything that’s going to be dangerous, you can start getting some of the muscles around the ribs mobilized. We’re really focusing on the muscles in between the ribs getting mobilized and moving again. We also see rib strains from somebody just rotating too far, or even coughing too hard. The following exercises are going to be helpful for those situations as well.
What can I do about it?
Imagine your ribs are just parallel bones that wrap around from the back to the front. In between them, are muscles. We’re working the little tiny muscles in between the ribs. The first exercise that is a side stretching motion. Lie on the uninjured side, where the painful ribs are facing up toward the ceiling. With your arm starting by your side, raise it up and over the side of your head. When it’s over your head, take a nice deep breath and then come back down. You don’t have to crunch, you don’t have to do anything super intense, you’re really just trying to get some mobility and you’re trying to get some movement as you’re coming back and forth. Do about 10 or 15 times with that movement. You can even integrate some breathing as you bring your arm up over your ribs. You’re trying to expand the ribs, so take a deep breath as you raise the arm up and then come back down.
The second exercise is related to breathing as well, because when you have a rib injury it’s difficult and really painful to breathe. So, you want to practice breathing. Put one hand on your stomach, and one hand on your chest. Now try to inhale and expand your chest as far and as big as you can and then out. You want to think about this not as diaphragmatic breathing, this is different, but you want to think about trying to make your chest expand as much as possible and then come back down. What you’re focusing on is getting these rib muscles stretched out as much as possible. When you have an injury, they tend to tighten up and really limit the amount of activity that you can do.
Give these two simple things a try for a couple of weeks, see if they help. If they don’t help or things are starting to get more painful definitely let us know, we’d love to be able to help you out. If they do help and you start to notice that your pain is decreasing, we’d also love to hear about it. Drop us a comment in the box below and we hope to hear from you soon.
– Dr. Jordan