pilates for pectus excavatum

Is Pilates Useful in Fixing Pectus Excavatum?

Pilates is a great way to treat the pectus excavatum deformity. Generally, it targets the core. However, it doesn’t only target the abdominal muscles. It is widely recognized as a full-body workout that will strengthen and tone every single muscle.

It is established in the 20th century by Joseph Pilates. As of 2019, there are more than 14 million people globally that practice this workout system. As of this writing, there are around 16.000 instructors based in the United States alone.

It has a lot of additional health benefits like improving mental function and easing pain caused by pectus excavatum. If you’re suffering from ache in the chest and back area, you should try doing Pilates.

Everything you need to perform a session of Pilates is a comfortable gym mat and two two-pound dumbbells.

Famous athletes suffering from the sunken chest deformity are huge fans of Pilates. This physical fitness system is done by people of all ages, ranging from pro athletes to grandparents.

​Importance of Chest Muscle Development

pilates for men

The chest (pectoral) muscles are made of two muscle groups: pectoralis major and pectoralis minor. The size difference between the two is self-explanatory.

Both muscles work coordinately to stabilize the rib cage, spinal column, sternum, and shoulders.

Most people suffering from the pectus excavatum deformity have a weak chest musculature. This causes structural problems in their body.

Developing the pectoral muscles is essential if you have a sunken chest. If you don’t do that, you’ll have trouble with the posture and stability of the spine.

On top of that, your chest will look weird and deformed. That will make you insecure about your looks, which will lead to social nervousness and even depression. 

The pectorals muscles in women lie underneath the breast tissue. That is why they aren’t visible in comparison to men.

Women with pectus excavatum will benefit from strengthening the chest muscles for two reasons.

First, it will assist women in the lifting of the breasts. That makes their entire upper body more aesthetic. It’ll also make their indented chest much less noticeable.

The second benefit is that it will assist the upper back, which will hold the weight of the breast tissue.

​Pilates Can Correct Protruding Ribs

pilates core exercises

If you suffer from the pectus excavatum deformity, there is a high possibility that you have flared ribcage. Typically, the left side of the ribs protrudes more. 

This causes both functional and aesthetic problems. 

Your upper body won’t be very stable if you’re suffering from protruding ribs. There is also a high possibility that you have a poor posture and scoliosis. This can mess up your natural breathing patterns, causing you problems in later life. 

Speaking of aesthetics, I don’t consider flared ribs to be an attractive feature. Having a dented chest, with a combination of an abnormally looking ribcage, isn’t very appealing.

Most sufferers are afraid to show their flawed bodies to the members of the opposite sex. 

Luckily, Pilates is a convenient, and a pain-free way to fix flared ribs. You can do it from the comfort of your house. You no longer need to attend Pilates classes, thanks to YouTube

I managed to correct pectus excavatum and rib flare, right in front of my TV. All I invested in was a simple yoga mat

Strengthening the core muscles is the best way to correct the protruding ribs abnormality. By strong core, I don’t mean only tight abdominals. I also mean robust obliques and powerful lower back muscles.

Pilates will significantly target obliques. This is the muscle that you need to develop the most, to hide the flaring of your ribs.

Balanced and robust core, which you’ll earn if you do Pilates regularly, will keep your posture upright and sturdy.

There are lots of ways you can strengthen the core, but the Pilates workouts are based upon science. Each Pilates session will target the core muscles equally. There won’t be any disbalances that you can get, like if you only perform crunches.

Every exercise in Pilates targets the core. Your core musculature will be engaged in a way that your body hasn’t experienced before. The rib flaring will be gone after a couple of months of doing Pilates regularly.

Can Pilates Build the Pectoralis Musculature?

pilates is awesome for pecs

Pilates isn’t designed just for attractive looking women. Guys with masculine-looking beards and chest hair are also welcomed to Pilates classes. Men need to be aware of the great toning and muscle building benefits they’ll get from this type of workout. 

There is a common misunderstanding that Pilates is only a series of stretches. Truth to be told, it generally focuses on the eccentric and concentric contractions of the muscles.

The concentric contraction makes the muscle to shorten. This is the phase where force is generated.

Contrary, the eccentric contractions make the muscle to elongate. This is due to the more prominent conflicting force.

When I combined bodybuilding workouts with yoga and Pilates, I saw an immense improvement in my concave chest deformity. My inner pectoralis muscles were getting more defined. I added a significant amount of size to my overall chest musculature. 

I no longer felt any pectus excavatum related pain in my chest, shoulders, and upper back.

Performing the bench press was no longer a struggle. I started to increase the weight and added new plates to each session.

On top of that, I was progressing in Pilates. I was performing advanced Pilates sessions, which were very difficult to do. Truth to be told, I felt a significant burning sensation in my chest muscles after each workout session.

Below, I’ll talk about the Pilates exercises that target the chest muscles. Performing those exercises will lead to assistance in repairing the pectus excavatum condition without surgery.

​The 3 Best Pilates Exercises for Pectus Excavatum


​Classic Pilates Planks

The basic Pilates plank is the simplest exercise that will strengthen your pectoralis muscles. Every single Pilates workout session will fit in the static plank.

When starting, you’ll hate the plank. It will squeeze every single bit of muscle in your body. The burning sensation you’ll feel in the flesh is always right. It means that your body is pushed to its limits and will become stronger after every workout session.

You’ll notice that you can be able to hold the static plank for a more extended period, after every single Pilates session. After just a couple of workouts, you will feel that the chest muscles will start to tone. 

The way you do the static beginner plank is straightforward.

You start by spreading both hands wide, pressed to the floor. Roll the shoulders back and down and maintain a retracted scapula. Then, straighten both of your legs until you’re in a total-body plank position.

This is the same positioning as the push-up. The only difference is that you don’t push yourself down. You just remain static.

If you’re just starting, hold the static plank for around 15 seconds. Repeat it four times, for a total of 60 seconds.

After each workout session, try to increase for 5 seconds. For correcting pectus excavatum and building chest muscles, do the static planks for three times a week.


Pilates Push-Ups

If you go to a Pilates classroom and ask the instructor about the best chest movement, the answer will be push-ups.

It is the best bodyweight exercise that will target your chest. It is even a part of the best bodyweight pectus excavatum exercises you can do.

If you’re having difficulty performing a regular push-up, then I recommend you drop on your knees. Do them this way, until you gain strength in your upper body to perform the traditional push-up. 

The Pilates push-up is a little bit different than the regular push up. It targets the chest musculature more. However, it is more challenging to perform.

Even a couple of repetitions will wake up your pectoralis muscles and force the growth of new tissue. You’ll see fantastic mass gains in the pecs after doing this exercise for a couple of months.

Check out this video to see how to perform a picture-perfect Pilates push up.


​Push-Up Plank

The push-up plank isn’t a standard Pilates exercise. However, I’ve seen a couple of Pilates instructors integrate this exercise into their workouts for better chest muscle activation.

This exercise challenges your core and stresses the chest, shoulders, and arms.

To perform this exercise, start in a Classic Pilates Plank position. Keep the body sturdy and squeeze your glutes.

Then, lower yourself down onto your right forearm. Next, bring down the left forearm. Now you should be in a forearm plank position.

Stay in that position for one second. Then, with a tight core, place one of the hands-on the ground. Use the other arm to push yourself back into a Classic Plank position.
After that, repeat the whole sequence for as many repetitions as you can.

Try to do three sets of this exercise with about 120 seconds rest in between sets.

This exercise will burn your chest and core musculature like no other. It is a combination of the two best Pilates movements for the pecs.


Pilates can be a massive help in correcting the pectus excavatum deformity. However, to fix the deformity non-surgically, you shouldn’t rely only on Pilates.

Combine Pilates wearing chest correcting braces, performing bodybuilding exercises, stretching, vacuum bell treatment for sunken chest, and yoga. This is a remarkable blend that will transform your entire body within a few months. 

If you’re suffering from pectus excavatum pain in the chest and back, Pilates is the perfect workout routine to follow. All exercises in Pilates are meant to correct your posture and strengthen your entire musculature, especially core.

For best results, I recommend you perform Pilates 3 times a week. Everything you need is an exercise mat. You don’t have to attend Pilates classes. Do the workouts from the coziness of your house.

Don’t hesitate. You already know what you should do.

Below, I’ll show you the exact video that I used when I tried doing Pilates the first time. Ever since then, I use Pilates to get rid of body aches and strengthen my body.

I pay homage to Pilates in fixing my pectus excavatum deformity, once and for all.