One of the hardest basic principles in Pilates is referred to as knitting the ribs.  The goal is to ensure that your ribs stay connected during movement and that they don’t pop.  Most people when they move their arms, particularly over head allow their ribs to pop up—losing the connection with the abdominal muscles.

Knitting the ribs does not only provide you better ab-work, but it also created a healthier spine.  This video can help you start to understand and visually see what it means to knit the ribs.  Lying on the floor will make it easier to feel if are connecting because you can use the floor beneath you as a contact point.  Once that starts to become easier you can play with the concept in a seated or standing position.  Any overhead exercises are the time to check in on your ribs and make sure you are not arching your back in order to move the arms more.

As you experiment remember not to be forceful.  You shouldn’t feel like you are jamming your ribs into the floor.  Just like you don’t want to jam the back into the mat when you rock to imprint on pelvic tilts.  Be gentle with yourself.  It can take time to get this concept and tight places can hold you back a little.  You don’t have to overcome them overnight.  On every inhale it’s natural for the connection or the ribs to release, but you reconnect on the exhale without bearing down.  To help maintain the connection, work on taking deep breaths into the lower lungs, feeling your back press against the mat as your lung fill with air.

Sometimes the ribs pop up because the psoas is tight.  So consider some psoas stretches to help make connecting with the ribs easier.  Sometimes tight lats in the back can get in the way.  So consider stretches for both of these areas.  Nothing in the body is in isolations, so while you need to learn to connect with the ribs, it’s also helpful to be aware of what might be causing your ribs to pop—a tight back or a tight psoas, possibly both.

Here are a couple tips to help you get better at the rib-abdominal connections:

  • Take deep breaths into your lower lobes of your lungs.
  • Play with more movement with your arms overhead.
  • Try to sync these two movements together, brining your arms overhead as you exhale.

Read More

The rib pop can wreak havoc on good posture.  Click here to read more.

Click here for another way to play with posture.


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