When you look in the mirror, do your ribs seem to stick out a bit more than usual? Does your rib cage expand at the bottom? Does your bra band feel tighter than usual? These are all signs of rib flare. 

Not only can flared ribs be painful, they can also affect your breathing patterns and ab muscles as well as cause back pain, increase incontinence and prolapse symptoms, and prevent healing of diastasis recti

But not to worry, I’ll provide the tools you need to get that pesky rib flare corrected in no time!

First, let’s start with the basics:

What is rib flare?

Commonly referred to as “flared ribs,” rib flare is the result of the rib cage protruding outward beyond the spine. 

If you are pregnant or postpartum, rib flare is very common and normal. As your baby grows, the rib cage expands to make room for your little one as well as your internal organs. Since more organs are located on the left side of your body, rib flare on the left is extremely common. 

How do I know if I have flared ribs?

  • Bra band might feel a bit tighter
  • Your lower ribs stick out prominently
  • More pronounced curvature of the rib cage
  • Discomfort or pain in lower back or rib cage area (especially during activities that involve bending forward or twisting your torso)

The rib flare test:

Thankfully, the rib flare test is very easy. Before you begin, watch this video to see my process on doing a rib flare test. 

Here’s how to see if you have flared ribs:

  • Step #1: Grab a marker and stand in front of the mirror
  • Step #2: Starting from the sternum, look in the mirror while tracing the front of your rib cage.
  • Step #3: If your rib cage angle is greater than 90 degrees, you might have lingering rib flare.

What causes rib flare?

One of the most common reasons for rib flare is – you guessed it – pregnancy! Rib flare is very common in pregnant and postpartum women as the rib cage expands to make room for both your baby and internal organs. As a result, the ribs may remain in place after giving birth, giving a protruded look. 

If you are not pregnant or postpartum but notice your ribs seem to stick out more than usual, flared ribs are also the result of:

  • Poor posture
  • Stress
  • Poor breathing 
  • Weak abdominal muscles 

How to fix rib flare:

Improving your posture and focusing on exercises that improve your core are the two best ways to correct rib flare.

We recommend doing the following every day:

  • Step 1: Hold a resistance band with both hands, keeping your arms straight in front of your body 
  • Step 2: Take a deep breath in through your nose
  • Step 3: Exhale through your mouth, bringing one hand up and the other hand down. Pull on your resistance band as much as possible. 
  • Step 4: Repeat 10 times
  • Step 5: Do the same on the other side to exercise both ribs.
  • Step 6: If one rib is flared more than the other, do extra reps on that side. 

For quick 15-minute workouts that target flared ribs, our Core Basics program is designed to correct postpartum rib flare as well as heal diastasis recti, prolapse, leaking, painful sex, back pain, and even help with anxiety and bowel movements. Check it out!

What makes rib flare worse?

Poor posture

We get it, slouching can definitely be the more comfortable way to sit/stand, but it is unfortunately the worst for rib flare. As much as you can, think about stacking your rib cage over your pelvis when you’re standing or sitting. This will help eliminate pressure on your lower ribs. 

Tight clothing

If you think you have rib flare, try to limit wearing tight clothing, especially around your rib cage area. Tight clothes can restrict movement and cause poor posture, particularly when working out. 

Not enough core exercises

As a mom, it can be hard to have time for a shower, let alone a core workout. Ashley, our program founder, is a mom of four and understands this more than anyone. She designed the workouts to be quick and easy, offering guidance on how to fit in a fast workout during naptime or after your little ones are off to sleep at night. The workouts outlined in Ashley’s Core Basics program are the best way to correct rib flare quickly. 

How long does it take to fix rib flare?

Rib flare typically improves fairly quickly. By implementing the exercises mentioned above on a daily basis, flared ribs usually improve in about X-X months. Here are some rib flare before and after photos from our SLAM moms!

Rib flare before & after photos

NSV: I’m 9.5 weeks into Slam Bridge, and look at that pesky left rib flare improving!” – Angie B.

Before and after photos of rib flare

“My ribs flared out significantly, especially one side. Well they both did but one even more so. Now after 20 months of practicing slam-ology (lol) I can contest that they have leveled out and gone back down!” – Svenja L. 

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