Anatomy In Action Part III: Intercostal Muscle Strain & Other Rib Injuries.
Rib Injuries are tough!! Stubborn to heal and very misunderstood, ribs are one of the harder injuries to self-diagnose. Rib injuries in combat sports often result from a direct blow to the ribs or forceful twisting. Outside of the gym, these injuries can also be due to lifting overhead or repetitive reaching.
Here I explain the different ribs you have as well as the muscles between them and their actions.
Injuries to the intercostals or costal cartilage cause difficulty & pain with breathing, coughing, & sneezing. They are typically accompanied by point tenderness, swelling, or bruising, depending on the severity of injury. These injuries typically take around 6 weeks to heal. However, it is important to remember that every time you re-injure a structure it lengthens your return to 100%.
Here are 2 exercises to help prevent injury as well as rehabbing a current rib injury.
Quadruped Trunk Rotation:
On hands and knees, reach one arm across your body, bringing your shoulder towards the opposite pocket. Then reach the opposite direction, reaching up for the ceiling. Be sure to follow your arm with your body the entire motion. Repeat on each side 10-15 times.
Lying on your back, start with your diaphragm. Press your belly up as you breathe in. Next, as you breathe in, try to expand your lower ribs into the table & outward. Then, try to expand straight upward as you breathe in. Finally, lift your upper ribs towards your chin. For each breath, try to exhale all of the air possible.
Do NOT push through the pain!!! If you are dealing with a current injury, you may actually make things worse.
You can also use Kinesiology Tape as a way to help you remember not to push it in training!
Of course, if you do injure yourself, it’s best to come in and see a PT ASAP. A good PT can make sure there is no serious damage and get you on the fastest track to recovery and the mats with the least risk of re-injury. This video does NOT take the place of a real evaluation by a healthcare professional. If your injury is not getting better, please consult a Physical Therapist or Physician for more help!