Sports Injury Treatment - How repositioning the ribcage with a unique neuro physio approach can get rid of sternum pain, in just one session
Do you have a sports injury that limits your training in the gym?
Are you passionate about working out but a sports injury is holding you back?
A patient, Ben, recently attended my Sports Injury Clinic for sports injury treatment. He is a keen athlete and works full time as a personal trainer.
Ben had recently increased his own training load in the gym and this had produced moderate to severe symptoms of pain in his sternum, the pain was aggravated by further lifting weights and thus limiting his ability to train and affecting him at work.
His doctor diagnosed him with costochondritis (inflammation of the joint between one of the ribs and the breastbone (sternum)), for which he had been prescribed anti-inflammatories.
Costochondiritis can be caused by a direct blow to the ribcage/sternum area (e.g. in ball / contact sports) or overactivity and excessive pull from the pectoralis major muscle in those individuals who perform repeated trunk and ribcage rotation. This is more commonly seen in gym goers who train their upper body with weights, such as weight lifters and personal trainers.
Ben’s condition had become chronic and had not responded to the prescribed treatment and rest. Ben presented to my sports injury clinic 9 months post injury.
With my unique sports injury treatment approach I do not look to treat the symptoms of a sports injury, I use specific tests to identify the positioning of the body, so I can understand and address the underlying cause of the sports injury or pain.
On initial physiotherapy assessment of Ben I identified his pelvis was positioned in a strong clockwise orientation (the left side of the pelvis was tipped forward). The Physiotherapy assessment tests also showed his lumbar spine was orientated to the right (in line with his rotated pelvis) and his ribcage was then orientated to the left.
Despite Ben’s ribcage being orientated to the left, his sternum (breastbone) was orientated to the right. As you can see from the image below the pectoral major muscle connects to both the sternum and the humorous (arm). With the sternum orientation to the right and the ribcage orientation to the left, this positioning was resulting in overactivity in the left pectoral major muscle.
Costochondritis most commonly affects the upper ribs on the left-hand side of your body. Pain is often worst where the rib cartilage attaches to the breastbone (sternum), but it can also occur where the cartilage attaches to the rib.
The overactivity in the left pectoral major muscle was limiting his ability to rotate his ribcage to the right and thus he was unable to achieve reciprocal pelvis and ribcage mechanics, which are required for efficient movement.
Utilising manual techniques developed by Ron Hruska at the Postural Restoration Institute (See Image), my initial treatment focused on restoring the correct position to Ben’s ribcage and sternum. Treatment then continued with specific exercises (See Images Below) to turn Ben’s pelvis in a counter clockwise direction which would also turn the spine to the left (counter-clockwise) below the diaphragm and orientate his ribcage (above the diaphragm) back to the right (clockwise).
With these repositioning techniques I guided the sternum in to a left orientation, improved the position of the left diaphragm leaflet and allowing air flow back in to the right chest wall, therefore improving right trunk rotation. These techniques also neurologically inhibited certain muscle groups in the ribcage, including the left pectoralis major muscle, thus allowing right trunk rotation and increased range of movement at the shoulder and ribcage.
The costochondritis pain that Ben was experiencing was immediately eased by the re-positioning and he continued with exercises at home to maintain his new position.
Following the manual techniques I used neuro physiotherapy exercises (see exercise 1 image) to improve airflow in to the right chest wall and the back of the left chest wall. This reinforces the new diaphragm position achieved with the manual techniques. I then used a second neuro physiotherapy exercise (see exercise 2 image) to help maintain counter clockwise rotation at the pelvis.