How Does Yoga Strengthen Intercostal Muscles and Help Avoid Intercostal Neuralgia?
The intercostal muscles help in controlling breathing cycle in body. The intercostal muscles are muscles connecting the ribs. During breathing, the ribcage should be in a position to be able to expand in order to accommodate movement of lungs. If for some reason the ribcage gets tight, then the amount of air taken in by lungs is less. One of the reasons for tight intercostal muscles is poor posture.
Yoga for Strengthening Intercostal Muscles
Yoga poses goes a long way in helping improve flexibility of rib cage.
Lengthening of Spine
Yoga poses help stretch intercostal muscles, lengthen your spine, and release tension from back. For this the following pose needs to be performed:
Yoga Gomukha-Asana or Cow Face Pose for Stretching the Rib Muscles
In this, bend down on all fours and align knees below hips and hands below shoulders. Upon inhaling air, raise the head and tailbone as a result forming a concave curve with the low back. When exhaling, round up the back. Slip in the tailbone and relax the neck. Try and repeat this pose at least 10 times. Once the pose is completed, exhale and shift the buttocks so that it is about half-way towards the feet. Try and focus on pulling the upper body towards the fully extended arms and the pelvis towards the legs. This stretches the rib muscles farther.
Twisting of Torso Exercise
Exercises requiring rotation of trunk are effective in stretching the intercostal muscles. People who regularly practice yoga, the back bends are impacted in a negative way due to tight ribcage. Whereas the structure of upper back is suited for twisting, the lower back is much tighter.
Yoga Marichy-Asana or Twisting of Torso for Stretching Intercostal Muscles
In this, bend the right leg up and place right foot beside left thigh. Keep left leg straight. Wrap the left arm around left knee while taking hold of left hand with the right hand. When exhaling, press left side of ribcage against left knee. Turn the head and fixate the vision over the right shoulder.
Stretching of Sides Exercises
When performing side-bend exercises, the intercostal muscles are stretched.
The Parighasana or Gate Pose for Stretching Stomach, Spleen and Liver
This Pose not only lengthens the rib muscles but also stretches the stomach, spleen as well as liver.
To do this pose, kneel on a mat. Stretch the right leg to right side and place the foot flat on floor. Keep left knee aligned below the hip. Now, extend both arms fully to sides with palms facing down. When exhaling, bend at the waist and lower the right palm to lower part of right leg. Now, stretch and raise the left arm. Every time while exhaling, try to deepen the stretch by bending lower down the leg with right hand. You can observe how intercostal muscles pull ribs down on exhaling and then lifts it back up when inhaling. Now, perform the same pose on the opposite side.
Deep Breathing for Stretching Intercostal Muscles
Deep breathing done by people practicing yoga regularly stretches the intercostal muscles. When taking in breath with a compressed ribcage, the elasticity of rib muscles is increased. For this, lie on the back with bent knees. Place palms on the ribs and inhale through nose. Observe your ribs slowly opening up and expand. When exhaling, you will observe that the hands come close together as the lungs compress to release air.