Because he is a very fit man in his early 30s it was easy for me to perform some manual therapy and mobilization techniques to realign his ribs, however his biggest concern was Why did this happen, and How do I prevent it from happening again?
To answer these questions we have to examine the anatomy of the ribs and surrounding musculature. We have 12 sets of ribs that articulate with the 12 vertebrae that make up the thoracic portion of our spine. Like all joint articulations the rib bones are connected to the vertebral bones by ligaments. Sudden trauma or extreme overuse can cause these ligaments to stretch, allowing the ribs to slip out of place.
Since this muscle is so large, it is responsible for many important functions of the upper body, including extension and adduction of the arm, as well as extension and lateral flexion (side bending) of the lumbar spine. These are movements we perform multiple times every day to pull with our upper body, so it is vital that our Lats be in good working condition. The best way to engage your Lats is to perform exercises that incorporate resisted pulling, such as Lat pull downs on a weight machine, or a body weight exercise such as pull ups. Stretching and using a foam roller post-workouts will also help prevent tightness and spasms in the Lats, which could lead to muscle strain and injury in the future.