Bikram yoga is a specific form of yoga that encompasses 26 postures and a room that is hot and humid. The process of contorting the body for the different poses, coupled with the heat and humidity can cause significant discomfort in many parts of the body, including the chest wall. Pain in or near the ribs can be the result of many conditions of varying severity. The characteristics of the pain may help distinguish among the different causes, but with any sort of chest pain a health care provider should be contacted to rule out serious health problems, such as heart disease.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
As Well And Good NYC notes, one common rib injury induced by the twisting motions of yoga is called rib subluxation 1. Subluxation of a rib is similar to a very mild rib dislocation but it can be thought to be akin to "jamming" the rib, which limits its ability to move. This process can come on suddenly and cause extreme pain after it happens. A subluxed rib is sometimes treated by a chiropractor, who will try to free the affected rib and return its range of motion. After the rib has been realigned, rest is required to allow the injured area to heal.
- As Well And Good NYC notes, one common rib injury induced by the twisting motions of yoga is called rib subluxation 1.
- Subluxation of a rib is similar to a very mild rib dislocation but it can be thought to be akin to "jamming" the rib, which limits its ability to move.
Rib Subluxation Treatment
Another potential cause of rib pain during Bikram yoga is costochondritis, which is caused by inflammation of the cartilage that connects the ribs to the breastbone. The Mayo Clinic explains that costochondritis causes pain and tenderness that may be located on one side of the chest and which is worse during the deep breathing that can occur in Bikram yoga. Costochondritis will usually subside on its own, though non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs -- such as ibuprofen and naproxen -- and stretching exercises can help ease the pain. Other treatment approaches can be used for costochondritis that does not improve with these measures, but they require the supervision of a physician.
- Another potential cause of rib pain during Bikram yoga is costochondritis, which is caused by inflammation of the cartilage that connects the ribs to the breastbone.
- Other treatment approaches can be used for costochondritis that does not improve with these measures, but they require the supervision of a physician.
Intercostal Muscle Problems
Between the ribs are a series of muscles, known as the intercostal muscles. During exercises that require twisting, these muscles can become strained, resulting in pain and tenderness, Body Motion notes. Although the strains can vary in severity, measures to rest the affected muscles and reduce inflammation will speed healing. Alternately, the pain felt in the ribs could be due to cramping of the intercostal muscles. According to the Mayo Clinic, performing exercise in hot and humid environments, such as Bikram yoga studios, can induce muscle cramps. Muscle cramps will usually go away on their own.
- Between the ribs are a series of muscles, known as the intercostal muscles.
- During exercises that require twisting, these muscles can become strained, resulting in pain and tenderness, Body Motion notes.
Causes of Back Pain Radiating to Ribs
The most troubling cause of rib pain during yoga -- and also the one that should prompt you to see a doctor -- is called angina pectoris. Angina pectoris is chest pain that is felt when a portion of your heart is not getting enough blood, the Patient Education Institute explains. During times of intense exertion, including during periods of strenuous yoga, the oxygen demand of the heart increases. Coronary artery disease limits the oxygen supply of the heart, which can cause a lack of oxygen and chest pain during exertion. Because this can be a sign of a serious heart condition, cases of chest pain should always be checked by a medical professional, especially if the pain occurs during other strenuous activities.
- The most troubling cause of rib pain during yoga -- and also the one that should prompt you to see a doctor -- is called angina pectoris.
- Coronary artery disease limits the oxygen supply of the heart, which can cause a lack of oxygen and chest pain during exertion.
Rib Subluxation Treatment
Causes of Back Pain Radiating to Ribs
How Does a Physical Therapist Fix a Stuck Rib?
Gluteus Maximus Pain in Yoga
How to Identify a Pulled Rib Muscle
Why Does the Right Side of Your Chest Hurt?
Exercise Pains Behind the Left Breast
How to Heal a Pinched Nerve with Yoga
Shoulder Pain From Yoga
When I Stretch My Rib Hurts
- Well and Good NYC: Why popping a rib in yoga isn’t as bad as it sounds
- Body Motion: Intercostal Muscle Strain
- Wertli MM, Ruchti KB, Steurer J, Held U. Diagnostic indicators of non-cardiovascular chest pain: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Med. 2013;11:239. doi:10.1186/1741-7015-11-239
- Ashika J., Wasseem M. Chest Trauma. StatPearls Publishing. 2019.
- Gregory PL, Biswas AC, Batt ME. Musculoskeletal problems of the chest wall in athletes. Sports Med 2002; 32:235. DOI:10.2165/00007256-200232040-00003
- Udermann BE, Cavanaugh DG, Gibson MH, Doberstein ST, Mayer JM, Murray SR. Slipping Rib Syndrome in a Collegiate Swimmer: A Case Report. J Athl Train. 2005;40(2):120-122.
- Foley CM, Sugimoto D, Mooney DP, Meehan W, Stracciolini A. Diagnosis and Treatment of Slipping Rib Syndrome. Clin J Sport Med 2019; 29:18. DOI:10.1097/JSM.0000000000000506
- Pickering D. Precordial catch syndrome. Arch Dis Child. 1981;56(5):401-3. doi: 10.1136/adc.56.5.401
- Keskindag B, Karaaziz M. The association between pain and sleep in fibromyalgia. Saudi Med J. 2017;38(5):465-475. doi:10.15537/smj.2017.5.17864
- Sturm C, Witte T. [Musculoskeletal-related chest pain]. Internist (Berl). 2017;58(1):39-46. doi:10.1007/s00108-016-0166-z
- Vinther A. Rib Stress Fractures in Rowers. BMC Sports Sci Med Rehabil. 2015; 7(Suppl 1): O18. doi:10.1186/2052-1847-7-S1-O18
- Wong P, Muanza T, Hijal T, et al. Effect of exercise in reducing breast and chest-wall pain in patients with breast cancer: a pilot study. Curr Oncol. 2012;19(3):e129-35. doi:10.3747/co.19.905
- Howard J, Hart N, Roberts-harewood M, et al. Guideline on the management of acute chest syndrome in sickle cell disease. Br J Haematol. 2015;169(4):492-505. doi:10.1111/bjh.13348
- Almansa C, Wang B, Achem SR. Noncardiac Chest Pain, and Fibromyalgia. Med Clin North Am 2010; 94:275.
- Bösner S, Becker A, Haasenritter J, et al. Chest Pain in Primary Care: Epidemiology and Pre-work-up Probabilities. Eur J Gen Pract 2009; 15:141.
- Ebell MH. Evaluation of Chest Pain in Primary Care Patients. Am Fam Physician 2011; 83:603.
- Eslick GD. Classification, Natural History, Epidemiology, and Risk Factors of Noncardiac Chest Pain. Dis Mon 2008; 54:593.
Adam Cloe has been published in various scientific journals, including the "Journal of Biochemistry." He is currently a pathology resident at the University of Chicago. Cloe holds a Bachelor of Arts in biochemistry from Boston University, a M.D. from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. in pathology from the University of Chicago.