Pectus excavatum is a congenital deformity of the chest wall, causing the breastbone to sink inward. It can pose many health issues like heart problems and breathing difficulties. Moreover, it can also affect one’s self-esteem.
Doctors can diagnose the symptoms by checking pulmonary function and a CT scan. Yet, it will be applicable for the childs chest and sunken chest syndrome.
The ideal corrective measure for severe pectus excavatum is surgical repair. However, for mild and moderate cases, physical training and exercises. It can help reduce the depth of the cavity and minimize complications.
Though you can consult your doctor for thoracic surgery or pediatric surgery. But these exercises will help you to repair the pectus excavatum. The Nuss procedure and Ravitch procedure can work in a severe case.
You can get surgical treatment. Also, the exercise treatment can repair the mild pectus excavatum.
Keep reading to know more about this condition and how these five pectus excavatum exercises can benefit you!
What Is Pectus Excavatum?
Pectus excavatum or funnel chest is a physical deformity in which the sternum and several ribs grow abnormally. Also can form a deep caved-in dent or cavity in the centre of the chest.
While the condition’s exact cause is unknown, it has been observed to be inheritable and runs in families. It is also more common in males than in females. Thus it can happen due to poor posture and chest deformity. It can cause chest pain.
The pectus deformity is usually evident from birth. Still, it can increase in depth and severity during early adolescence, often continuing to worsen into adulthood.
Severe cases of pectus excavatum deformity can lead to complications in the heart and lungs. It can cause difficulty breathing, chest pains, and the inability to move correctly.
While not really detrimental to health, Milder cases can still make a person feel self-conscious and ashamed.
There is a common question about pectus excavatum exercises. Can pectus excavatum be fixed with exercise? Here you will know about the aim of pectus excavatum exercises.
The Aim Of Pectus Excavatum Exercises
- Improving posture
- Developing the upper body area
- Strengthening the rib cage
- Pushing the sternum forward and outward and holding it in place
- It can work as strength training
- Adding muscle mass to the pectorals and spine muscles
- Expanding the lung’s capacity
- Decreasing of completely removing the indented chest area
One common misconception about pectus excavatum exercises is that you should only focus on the pectoral muscles.
If you do this, these muscles will get bigger and consequently make the concave of the chest seems deeper and larger.
Instead, you should do the target and strengthen the core, shoulder, and back muscles as well. You can increase flexibility and lung capacity.
And you can normalize the chest appearance by focusing on the right muscle groups. Apart from that, you can do the pectus excavatum exercises at home.
Three Pectus Excavatum Exercises
This is pretty basic, and it’s not a secret that push-ups help strengthen the upper pectoral muscles. You can also adjust the difficulty of push-ups by starting on your knees and at any angle.
Moreover, you can gradually lower to the floor and on your toes as you get stronger. A mild pectus excavatum patient can follow the exercise.
- Pelvis rotation activates the core
- Allows the ribcage to stretch fully and the sternum to be pulled outward
- Increases circulation in the back muscles, improving the kyphosis of the spine, which is linked to pectus excavatum
- Targets the chest and shoulder muscles to normalize the chest area and improve posture
How To Do It:
- Get on the floor in a plank position. Furthermore, keep your core engaged and your back straight. Make sure your hands are directly under your shoulders.
- Take in a breath as you lower your body. Make sure that your elbows are at 45°.
- As you prepare to push yourself up again, exhale.
- Push your body upwards, slightly twisting your elbows inward to get a better range of motion and engage your chest more. Perform each movement slowly and in a controlled manner.
- Do 2 sets of 10 push-ups per day and increase this until you can perform 3 to 6 sets of as many reps you can.
If you are getting tired of the standard push-up workout, you can try these variations:
2. Dumbbell Pullover
The great thing about dumbbell pullovers is that the exercise is quite easy and versatile. You can use dumbbells, soup cans, or even water bottles for weights.
Just make sure that the weights are even on both hands and comfortable to hold. You may also use a weight bench exercise, or you can lie down on the floor.
- Does not require much effort or skill
- Ideal for beginners
- Allows for some modifications
- Strengthens the chest muscles
How To Do It:
- Lie down on a bench or the floor. Prop a pillow under your shoulders to remove the pressure on the sternum and achieve your goal of fixing the pectus excavatum.
- Hold your weights over your chest with your elbows bent and the palms of your hands facing each other.
- Take a deep breath, then slowly raise the dumbbells over your head, maintaining a slight bend on your elbows.
- Using the same arc, exhale and return to the starting position.
- Do 4 sets of this exercise until failure thrice a week. Start with lighter weights and then gradually increase the weight as you improve.
Pull-ups is another common exercise that can help with pectus excavatum by working on the upper back and chest muscles. These are also pretty simple to perform, although you need a pull-up bar to do them.
- Improves posture
- Develops upper back strength
- Works great for congenital chest wall deformity
How To Do It:
- Grab a pull up bar with both hands using a grip that’s comfortable for you. Start with your arms fully stretched.
- Engage and flex your core, then pull yourself up. Squeeze your shoulder blades once you reach the top.
- In a slow, straight motion, lower yourself back to the starting position.
- Perform 5 sets of as many reps as 4 times per week. If this is too hard for you, start with 5 pull-ups in the morning and night.
Pectus excavatum is a condition that can negatively affect your daily life. Some exercises are very effective in reducing its gravity and the depth of the chest indentation.
If you check the after and before results of pectus excavatum exercises, you will also recommend following these exercises. Along with that, pectus excavatum stretches can improve posture.
However, due to the nature of the condition, exercising may be extra hard,, especially regarding breathing. In all exercises, focus on breathing as deeply as possible and do not force yourself too much early on.
Apart from surgical correction, you can follow the exercises to pectus excavatum repair. Start slow and allow your body to adapt before progressing to the next level. Besides, breathing exercises can work for the mild pectus excavatum.
You can strengthen and build your chest muscles by performing simple and common exercises. The exercises are like push-ups, pull-ups, and dumbbell pullovers.
Soon enough, you will notice that the chest cavity will become shallower. And, for milder cases, might even completely disappear!