It’s getting close to Halloween, and skeletons are beginning to show up everywhere! That’s pretty good timing, since the Alkalizing Axial Aligner targets a specific part of the skeleton – the axial skeleton.
The ribs make up a significant part of this area, and in addition to other muscles, today’s exercise works the intercostal muscles between the ribs to align and “open” both the ribs and the chest. This promotes deep breathing, which alkalizes the body and aligns the ribs.
In fact, a study reveals the importance of aligned rib joints in stabilizing the upper back, which makes strong, stable ribs crucial for preventing kyphosis and maintaining good posture.
So let’s get started!
The human skeleton can be divided into two main parts: the axial and the appendicular skeleton. Today’s exercise focuses on the former, which makes up the central core of your body.
The axial skeleton is made up of 80 bones, counting all 29 bones in the head, 25 in the sternum and ribcage, and 26 vertebrae. But it is easier to think of the axial skeleton in three main parts: the skull, ribcage, and vertebrae.
Here are some of the main muscles that make up the axial skeleton.
These are the small muscles between the ribs, and they include a total of 22 muscles in two sets of eleven. They are particularly relevant with regard to today’s exercise – they connect the ribs to each other, and when they contract, they spread the ribs apart and lift the chest. This is the “open” chest I referred to earlier, and it’s crucial for proper breathing.
Because the ribs wrap all the way around the torso, the intercostals also stabilize the thoracic vertebrae, thus playing a key role in posture. It’s interesting to consider that the ribs influence spinal alignment – that means you’ll be strengthening and aligning them as well as your ribs when you perform exercises like the Alkalizing Axial Aligner.
Roughly dome-shaped, the diaphragm is required for breathing. The term “diaphragm” includes the tendon as well, and it acts as a sort of dividing mark between the chest and abdomen. It’s one of the core muscles, and it may surprise you to learn that this abdominal muscle attaches to the lumbar vertebrae in addition to the ribs and sternum.
Various important body parts, such as the esophagus, aorta, and vagus nerves pass through the diaphragm muscle via several openings. The lungs are close to the diaphragm, too, of course; when you draw a deep breath, the diaphragm contracts and flattens toward the spine. Your intercostals simultaneously lift the ribcage up and allow your lungs to expand.
This rhythm begins the moment you are born, so it’s easy to take breathing for granted and inadvertently become a shallow breather. Exercises like this weekend’s can train your “breath muscles” to allow deep breaths that alkalize your body.
Pectoralis Major and Minor
These two muscles make up the most notable and visible muscles of the chest, especially the pectoralis major. It begins at the sternum, covers the front of the chest, and attaches to the second and sixths ribs. The pectoralis major also attaches to the collarbone and upper arm bone, allowing you to move your arms across the front of your body.
The pectoralis minor is smaller, but no less important. It lies below the pectoralis major, and connects to the shoulder blades and the third and fifth ribs. The pectoralis minor pulls the shoulders down and forward. If this triangular muscle is tight or weak, the shoulders are more likely to roll inward, creating a slumped posture.
Infraspinatus, Teres Major and Minor, Subscapularis, and Supraspinatous
Small muscles, long names! These are the muscles that form your rotator cuff, and they play a key role in shoulder joint stability. The rotator cuff is made up of muscles and tendons in the shoulder that connect the shoulder blade (scapula) to the upper arm (humerus). Strong, supple rotator cuff muscles keep the shoulder joints aligned and positioned correctly, and also prevent dislocation.
The “lats” are a very broad back muscle, and one of the widest in the body. It’s a thin muscle, arising from the lumbar vertebrae and sacrum and running up the back and through the armpits, where it attaches to the top of the humerus bones. Its many functions always involve arm motion, especially adduction, which is the movement you make when you do a chin-up or pull something off of an overhead shelf. The lats also help perform arm extension, which swings your arms back and allows you to perform a rowing motion. Nearly all arm movement requires the lats.
As the name indicates, this muscle’s main job is to lift the scapulae (shoulder blades). It is located on either side of the neck, originating at the lower four cervical vertebrae and attaching to the scapulae. The levator scapulae is also involved in neck flexion, allowing you to move your neck from side to side. It helps position your head properly for correct posture.
Trapezius muscle is one of the largest back muscles. Usually associated with the shoulders, the “traps” spread out in a kite shape across the shoulders and down to the middle back. The trapezius begins at the cervical and thoracic vertebrae, fanning across the back and shoulders. It tapers as it runs down the back, attaching at the lower thoracic and upper lumbar vertebrae to form a point.
This muscle group is made up of eight muscles that run along the length of the spine. So it’s clearly vital for spinal alignment, mobility, and strength. The erector spinae run in two columns on either side of the spine, so when you bend as in today’s exercise, you’re alternating between working and relaxing each side.
This muscle lies along the sides of the chest. It is responsible for pulling the shoulder blades down and toward the front of the body. When you push something forward, you’re engaging your serratus anterior.
Exercises that use these muscles to target the axial skeleton provide axial loading, which is an effective bone-building exercise.
Here’s how to do the Alkalizing Axial Aligner.
- Stand up straight with your feet a few inches apart, toes facing forward.
- For the sake of clarity, we’ll begin with the left arm. Raise your left arm slowly up over your head, keeping the elbow very slightly bent to form a gentle arc. Your palm should be facing to the right. Your right arm should be hanging straight down, with the fingers of your right hand pointing toward the floor.
- Slowly bend toward the right, keeping your pelvis level and bringing your left arm along. Bend far enough that your right fingertips touch a few inches above your knee.
- Straighten back up to your starting position and repeat with the other arm.
- Continue to alternate sides until you’ve completed 10 to 20 total bends, or five to 10 per side. Feel free to do more or fewer repetitions, depending on your fitness and comfort levels.
This exercise helps align your spine, stretch the intercostals, and opens your chest. In addition, it aids digestion by stretching the abdominal muscles. Try following it with the Alkalizing Rib Cage Expander and the Spine And Rib Cage Extender, both Weekend Challenges that address the axial skeleton, particularly the ribs.
Study Shows The Importance Of Rib Alignment For Good Posture And Spinal Stability
Researchers discovered a strong connection between the strength and alignment of the ribs and the thoracic vertebrae. After subjecting axial skeletons to compression, rotation, lateral bending, flexion, and extension, they found that the rib cage actually increases thoracic spine stability “by 40% in flexion/extension, 35% in lateral bending, and 31% in axial rotation.”1
In addition, the researchers noted that a “sternal fracture significantly decreases the stability of the thorax,”1 so performing exercises that strengthen the sternum and ribs to prevent fracture is also an excellent protective measure for your thoracic vertebrae.
Densercise™ Includes Exercises That Work The Axial Skeleton
The Densercise™ Epidensity Training System includes exercises that cover all major areas of the skeleton, including the axial skeleton. Densercise™ combines resistance training, weight-bearing, and postural exercises to give you a complete bone-smart workout.
And of course, all the other benefits of exercise are yours to enjoy with Densercise™, such as an open rib cage, excellent posture, better breathing, improved cardiovascular health, a more positive mood, greater energy…the list goes on!
Take Exercising For Your Bones to the Next Level!
Learn the 52 exercise moves that jumpstart bone-building – all backed by the latest in epigenetics research.
Have a great weekend, and enjoy the challenge!
1 Watkins, R., IV, et al. “Stability provided by the sternum and rib cage in the thoracic spine.” Spine. 30. 11. (1976): 1283-6. Web. September 29, 2016. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15928553