Centerworks® “Secret” Training Tips for Mobilizing the Ribcage
Part One:  Spine Flexion

Spine Felxion

When we bend into forward flexion for Pilates exercises like the Hundred, Roll Up or Teaser every segment of the spine has to move individually to open the back ribs and bend the spine.

In the front of the body, the ribs are attached to the breastbone (which is a solid piece) so the same bending can’t occur.  The breast bone must “slide down the front of the body” to bring the front ribs closer together. 

If the Pec muscles in the front of the chest are held tight, the front ribs & breastbone cannot move causing the “bend” forward to happen from either the neck or the waist, but not segmentally through the upper spine.

Each rib is attached in the back to the spine and in the front to the breastbone, and they need to bend or “rotate” individually to fully articulate the spine, mobilize the ribcage and bend the body forward.

Here are a few helpful training tips to make movement of your spine and Ribcage happen more easily:

  • Relax the chest muscles to open the back and release the ribs for movement.
  • Allow movement bending forward to initiate from the head and neck, then the collar bones through the front of the body to bend every rib like you are turning a rotisserie to curl forward.
  • As the Pecs relax feel the breastbone slide down the front of the body and drop backwards towards the spine.
  • While the breastbone slides down, the backbones are bending forward “up and over” the breastbone.
  • Use your breath to facilitate freer movement.  Inhaling helps elongate the spine and creates space for movement, exhaling allows your movement to “ride the breath.”

It doesn’t matter what position your body is in space, if you need to bend the body forward and want good articulation through the spine, both the back and chest have to release to mobilize the upper thoracic spine and move the ribcage.

During your workouts, play with and visualize the image of each rib turning like a rotisserie to help you mobilize the ribcage and feel the forward bending, spine flexion movement through the upper back.

Roll Down the Wall-croppedYou might find it easiest to begin practicing these concepts with a standing Roll Down on the Wall.  With gravity assisting the forward bending motion, it can be easier to learn to release the Pecs and move the ribs.  With time and practice, you will be able to transfer this feeling to all your forward spine flexion movements and exercises.


Check out the entire Mobilizing the Ribcage Series:



Aliesa George: Over the past three decades, Aliesa George has helped assist people with their personal health journeys by sharing, teaching, and developing Pilates, Foot Fitness, and other Mind-Body programs.


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