Wednesday, November 2, 2022

Mobility of the Lower Ribcage

Lower ribcage mobility has relationships to the diaphragm, spine and internal organs.

The lower ribcage has a lot of movement potential, especially when compared to the rest of the ribcage. Part of the movement potential of this region is determined by the anatomy. The lowest two ribs, called the floating ribs, articulate with the lowest two thoracic vertebrae. This is the only place they articulate with bone. Ribs 8-10, called false ribs, articulate with the thoracic vertebrae and then indirectly connect to the sternum through a large bit of cartilage. The remaining ribs, referred to as true ribs, attach directly to the thoracic spine and the sternum. The direct connection to the sternum limits the movement of these ribs (1-7), but since ribs 8-12 do not have this direct attachment, they allow more rotation, compression, and expansion.

There are attachments of the respiratory diaphragm and the internal organs to the lower ribcage. Specifically, the liver, intestines, spleen, and stomach have strong attachments to the lower ribcage. Good movement in this region helps massage the internal organs and take the diaphragm through a good range of motion. This keeps these structures healthy and supple.

Much of the movement of this region is driven by the Liver and Gallbladder sinew channels, especially the rotational movements of the ribcage in relationship to the pelvis. The obliques are the driving force of this rotation. The internal obliques are most associated with the Gallbladder sinew channel. The Liver sinew channel involves the medial line of the body, but includes the external oblique which fascially connects with the contralateral adductor longus. Trunk and pelvic rotations are very tied to these channel sinews and imbalances are treated through these channel sinews.

Another movement of this region involves the ability of the left and right sides to flare (move away from each other) and to hold stability preventing excessive rib flare. This is largely controlled by the transverse abdominis and has more to do with the Kidney sinew channel. When the Kidney sinew channel does not properly support this region, the ribs excessively flare and the ribcage tilts posterior.

Ribcage mobilization exercise

Check out the following videos for a simple qigong exercise to improve the mobility of this region, while massage the internal organs, mobilizing the diaphragm, and strengthening the core. This qigong pattern is derived from an internal martial art called liuhebafa and the movement is called 'Stop Cart and Ask Directions'. It is the first movement of this series.

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