In this post, I want to emphasize pot belly, how it is associated with pectus excavatum, and how to fix it.
One of the most annoying problems with pectus excavatum and flared ribs is the pot belly appearance. The problem isn’t because you’re overweight. Most people with pectus excavatum are skinny and underweight.
That’s caused because the indented breastbone pushes down on the upper part of the abdomen, pushing it to protrude forward.
Most people think buying a simple posture brace that pushes the shoulders back while sucking in your belly will correct this problem. Even though it may help with correcting posture and minimizing rib flare to a certain extent, it won’t fix the pot belly problem, as it is more complex.
HOW POT BELLY WORSENS APPEARANCE
The pot belly makes the chest indentation look even worse. It makes it more noticeable from the side profile. It often looks like you can stick your fingers in the chest indentation by inches.
The belly is protruding, causing the indent to appear deeper. This doesn’t look attractive at all, even when you’re wearing a shirt. It can look like your stomach is the only thing touching the shirt’s fabric, while the breastbone feels none.
It is one of the few major concerns for every sufferer. Some people aren’t bothered by the rib flare as much as the funny-looking pot belly around their skinny frame.
The good news is that you can improve this with corrective exercises. You first need to take care of the anterior pelvic tilt. Then, you need to strengthen the entire core.
FLARED RIBS CAN MAKE A POTBELLY APPEARANCE
The ribs of people with pectus excavatum often flare forward at the bottom instead of down. This can create a pot-belly appearance.
If you gain belly fat, it will start to show right below your flared rib cage, making the problem appear much worse and because of this, reducing the amount of rib flare is crucial. The simplest way to do this is to purchase a brace.
PECTUS POT BELLY AND BACK PAIN
I want to share some approaches that helped me fix my pectus excavatum pot belly and lower back pain. I wasn’t too worried about my appearance, even though my stomach stuck forward like fat when I was 65 kg at 180 cm.
I became frustrated when I couldn’t deadlift and squat without massive pain when I woke up the next day. When I started researching the cause of the pain, I understood why my pectus excavatum deformity and pot belly looked worse than ever while I had lower back pain.
There are three common muscular imbalances that people with pectus excavatum and pot bellies need to correct.
Hyperlordosis is when your lower back curves excessively, pushing the belly forward. It also looks like your butt is way back because of the vast sweeping arch in the low back. Many young ladies with pectus excavatum walk with the arch in their back to look sexy.
However, they will mess up their lower back, leading to lordosis and back pain. When pregnant, the abdominals are stretched, and their lower backs are excessively curved. Most women suffer from extreme back pain, possibly leading to surgery.
ANTERIOR PELVIC TILT
The anterior pelvic tilt affects the general population because of the amount of sitting. Driving, sitting at the desk at work, playing video games, or being inactive for most of the day are the leading causes. The anterior pelvic tilt is when you have the pelvis tilting forward.
It creates an exaggerated arch in the lower back. A muscular imbalance in the muscles causes it. Some muscles that aren’t supposed to be weak are weaker, and others are stronger than they need to be. Fixing it is easier than most people think.
It is dominance and shortening of the hip flexors in the front. That causes the pelvis to pull down into an anterior tilt. A person with anterior pelvic tilt has weak glutes that don’t do what they are supposed to.
Because of it, they create a short and tight extension in the lumbar spine, which causes many problems like the pot belly.
BIG MISTAKE YOU CAN MAKE
Most people unfamiliar with the problem start stretching their hamstrings first. These muscles will generally feel tight, and instinctively, you will begin to stretch them.
The pelvis isn’t in the wrong position because the hamstrings are tight. It is the opposite. They are tight because of the anterior pelvic tilt and tight hip flexors.
Stretching the muscles that are tight instinctively can make the problem much worse. Your belly will start to tilt forward, which will make you even more frustrated.
Because of this, it is essential to follow the proper guide or work with a physiotherapist. Alternatively, you need to strengthen the hamstrings and glutes, which are weak, and force the lower back to do all the work it isn’t supposed to.
The tightness in the hip flexor muscles causes the abdominals to stretch, leading to weakness. Because of this, they cannot fully contract out of this unnaturally stretched-out position.
HOW TO FIX ANTERIOR PELVIC TILT
To fix the anterior pelvic tilt and pectus pot belly, you need to:
- Strengthen your abdominal muscles
- Stretch your tight hip flexors
- Strengthen your glutes and hamstrings.
- To strengthen abs, don’t use hip flexor dominant exercises. This will make your appearance even worse.
- You can kill two birds with one stone if you practice the exercise I am about to show. It will strengthen the hamstrings and glutes while stretching the tight hip flexor. The exercise is a combination of a stretch and a lunge. Here’s how you can do this exercise.
To recap, you need to understand a few key points:
- Don’t stretch your tight hamstrings. They are not causing anterior pelvic tilt and pot belly.
- Strengthen the glutes and hamstrings.
- Stretch your lower back.
- Stretch your tight hip flexors
- Strengthen the abs without doing hip flexor dominant ab exercises.
Pectus posture is very similar to poor posture, but some indications make it different from simple bad posture.
However, there are some terrible posture patterns that most pectus excavatum sufferers have. Generally, if you prioritize correcting pectus posture, your pot belly won’t be as visible as it already is.
I’ve written a detailed guide on fixing the wrong pectus posture.
While performing the most popular core exercises like the crunch, leg raises, etc., the hip flexors tend to take over, further worsening the problem.
- Planks are a fantastic way to work the entire core without using the hip flexors because you’ll stabilize in a static position.
- Side planks are one of the most excellent exercises that work the muscles of the sides of your core, called the obliques. These muscles help you rotate, bend, and protect the spine. The traditional plank mainly focuses on the six-pack abs. Alternatively, the side plank works the obliques, helping you achieve a balanced physique without adding strain to your hip flexors.
EAT IN ACCORDANCE WITH A LEAN MUSCULAR PHYSIQUE
The pot belly caused by pectus excavatum isn’t caused by a high-fat percentage. To simplify, if you are a thin, underweight person, you need more food than you think. Most pectus excavatum sufferers are malnourished and have a super-fast metabolism.
You’ll need a lot of calories even to maintain your skinny frame. When you start weightlifting to improve pectus excavatum, you also increase your caloric need, making you eat even more food. Forget about MyFitnessPal and counting your nutritients.
I never measured my caloric intake because I find it time-consuming and tedious. Just eat a lot. Some people find it irresponsible to recommend a young, skinny individual eat more food.
However, it is equivalent to telling an overweight person to eat less food. In reality, both of these suggestions work. If you try to gain weight, stay in a caloric surplus, and if you try to lose weight, stay in a caloric deficit. That’s all you need for now.
ACTIVE HUMAN / NO SERENDATERY
When my pectus excavatum and pot belly were at their worst, I spent a lot of time in front of the computer, playing video games. My lower back wasn’t loving it.
First and foremost, as opposed to giving you specific exercises and stretches, I will share a tip that helped me deal with my pectus pot belly and lousy posture.
One of the first things that helped me significantly was purchasing a stand-up working desk. When working on this e-book, I spend a lot of time in front of the computer.
I started to put the laptop on the stand-up desk and work while standing. It required some getting used to. However, I no longer have any lower back pain while working. I am fully lined up with a straight back and not hunched over the desk.
At first, I still positioned the laptop low, so I had to look down at it, further worsening the head forward posture. Elevating the laptop to a box helped me eliminate that, as I struggled with it in the past.
Please get rid of the collapsed, flexed, and fetal position we find ourselves in most of the day. What makes humans so powerful on this planet, among many things, is that we stand upright. This position gives enormous advantages over other species in so many ways.
The best thing you can do right now, if you must work a job where you sit and stare at a computer screen, worsening your pectus posture and pot belly, is to get off your butt, stand up, and do it with a standing, proper stance. I will share some things you can incorporate into your lifestyle to move you toward an active life.
- Physical activities in your house and yard like cooking, cleaning, landscaping, and lawn work.
- Start moving while you watch the TV. Get a set of light dumbbells and perform simple exercises in front of the TV. Get a stationary bike and start pedaling on it. Don’t use the remote control; stand up and manually change the channels.
- Start implementing yoga and Pilates in your morning routine. That will help you stretch your hips’ tight muscles and strengthen the muscles needed for optimal posture.
- Go for a short morning walk around your neighborhood, especially when it is sunny, while listening to a podcast or an audiobook. You can also do it with a friend to make the walk more exciting.
- Stand up every time you use your phone. That can help you use it less during the day.
- Purchase some workout equipment in your house. When the Covid-19 pandemic started, we built a power rack with my dad and bought an Olympic barbell, 120kg plates, two adjustable dumbbells, and resistance bands. That’s everything I needed to improve my physique and pectus excavatum deformity. That helped me consistently follow my bodybuilding program without spending much time going to the gym.