Continuing our discussion on the Stop the Damage starting point of the STOP BN SICK protocol has caused us to look first at adequate oxygen for the body. Remember that your brain and body needs oxygen, fuel and activation to be healthy. We have already talked about the importance of your mitochondria and the negative effects that anemia can have on your health. A more mechanical component to healthy oxygen delivery will be considered today…your ribs.
You have 24 ribs total…12 on the right and 12 on the left. As you breathe the ribs move in what has been described as a bucket handle motion. This motion allows for maximal expansion of the chest cavity so the lungs can take in more oxygen to be transported through the body. Ribs that don’t move cause a depression in this chest cavity expansion and leads to lower oxygen intake. Proper movement here is critical.
Ribs that don’t move properly can also be painful. Have you ever been playing basketball, or twisted in your seat, or sneezed real hard and then felt a sharp pain in your back. This pain causes you lean over to one side, it hurts to stand up straight and taking deep breaths can be painful. This is a classic situation of a rib head moving outside of its normal joint movement pattern and leading to secondary muscle spasm.
This image shows another way that poor rib motion can lead to poor health. Every organ in your body has a reflex point on the body wall. Osteopaths call them Chapman reflexes, applied kinesiologists call them neurolymphatic reflexes and neurologists refer to them as viscerosomatic reflexes. As you can see on this image, all of these numbered circles actually represent a few of these reflex points. The main points represented here are for heart, lung, thyroid, liver, gallbladder, stomach, pancreas and small intestine.
Abnormal rib movement can cause abnormal activation of these reflex points and can cause significant underlying health challenges if not addressed. What’s more is that this problem can go both ways. Take for example the liver neurolymphatic located around the 5th-6th intercostal space on the right. A congested liver may cause abnormal activation of this reflex which will make it tender. This will affect the way the muscles and joints around it move and will caused decreased movement in the area. This can lead to tightness in the chest, pain in the midback or abnormal posture changes. The restricted movement in this case is not due to the need for an adjustment or massage, but to treating the underlying problem…in this example, the liver.
Part of our assessment for all our patients includes checking for movement restrictions in the back and ribs, checking the amount of chest expansion available with deep inspiration, and looking for any really tender reflex points that need to be addressed. Chiropractic manipulation, organ specific nutritional support, stress management, healthy diet and regular exercise can all help these reflex points stay normal and keep the ribs moving in a healthy way.