Principles of Pilates (3) – Rib Cage Placement
Rib Cage Placement is an important (but sometimes forgotten) aspect of a Pilates workout. In addition to breathing and pelvic placement, we need to maintain abdominal engagement by engaging the wall of the abdomen where it attaches to the lower ribs so the ribs don’t pop or flare open during execution of the Pilates exercises. This keeps the spine neutral and stable as the abdominal muscles stabilize the rib-cage and spine so is an important part of the core connection and control sought in Pilates.
Focusing on the Pilates breath also helps maintain correct Rib Cage Placement as we breathe in to the back and side areas of the rib cage through the nostrils and exhale through lightly pursed lips.
Test your Rib Cage Placement as part of your Pilates warm-up – lying on your back, with knees bent and both feet flat on your Pilates mat, take an inhale and reach your arms to the ceiling, exhale and continue the journey with the arms but only as far as your can maintain abdominal connection and the rib cage can remain in contact with the mat. (For some this may be eye level, some may be able to reach the ground with their arms. The aim though is not necessarily to reach the ground but to maintain abdominal control). On the next inhale, reach your arms back to the ceiling and exhaling, lower your arms back down by your sides. Repeat a couple of times, keeping your front ribs close in towards each other and ensuring the back ribs do not arch away from the mat.
Shoulder Bridge – because the lower ribs attach to the abdominal wall, care is taken to maintain abdominal engagement and not “popping” the ribs.