Can't Feel The Burn In The Right Place?


It's happened to all of us. You're working out and know you're supposed to be "feeling it" in a certain target area, but you can't. Do you ever wonder why?

The explanation is actually quite simple. That particular muscle is not burning because it's not firing. Why? It's not in the right position to be properly utilized. 

Our body is designed to stand with a certain posture and have our joints in certain positions. The muscles attach on very specific areas of bone so that when they shorten or contract, the bone moves in a very specific pattern. For example, our gluteus maximus (largest glut muscle) originates from the top of our pelvis and part of our sacrum at the back of the pelvis above the tailbone. It then attaches to the gluteal tuberosity on the back of the thigh bone. When this muscle contracts and shortens, your hip extends or your thigh moves backward relative to your pelvis.

The only catch is that our muscles need to have a proper length tension ratio to contract fully. This means that the muscle must not be too stretched, or too shortened in order to be the strongest that it can be and fully contract all its fibers. Therefore, if the muscle is not in the correct position, and does not have the correct length tension ratio, the body will substitute another muscle that is in better position to work. This is why people who have very arched or "deep" lower backs will feel their lower backs working as they do a glut exercise. Because of the position of their lower spine and the consequential tipped-forward position of their pelvis, their glut is stretched out. Their lower back extensors are then in a shorter position and have a much more efficient length tension ratio. Therefore, that person's body will choose to use their lower back extensors rather than their glut during their glut strengthening activities as it is more efficient from a biomechanical standpoint. 

The therapists at Integrate 360 Physical Therapists can help. We do an extensive evaluation looking at your standing posture and performing tests to see if your joints and muscles are properly aligned. We will then work with you on ways to restore your posture and bone/joint alignment so that you can work out and live in a biomechanically correct way. Depending on your goals, this can be done in as little as one session!

Next time your doing a leg raise while lying on your side and you feel it in the outside of your thigh versus your glut, or performing lower abdominal exercises that you feel in the front of your hip joint, give us a call and let us help you. Contact us at, or 314-733-5000.

What's a Rib Flare and What Does it Mean?

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Next time you're lying on your back, place your hands on your lower ribs. As you move your hands down those ribs toward your belly button, did you notice a drop off as your ribcage ended and your hands moved onto your abdomin? Was one side worse than the other? You, my friend, have a rib flare. These are very common, but are not normal. They are a clear warning sign that your core strength is lacking and you are on your way to pain and/or dysfunction.

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Our abdominal muscles all attach to the bottom part of our ribcage.  The rectis abdominis (or six pack muscle) attaches to the ribcage in the front where it then travels down an attaches to the pelvis in the front. This muscle curls the trunk forward and is NOT a postural, or true core, muscle. It is also the most superficial muscle.

The next two groups are deeper toward are spine and do function as postural muscles. These are the obliques, specifically the internal obliques, and the transverse abdominis. These groups of abdominals are much wider and also attach to our lower ribs and top of the pelvis, but touch more bony surface area. When these muscles are strong and have good resting tone, they keep the ribcage held in an upright position. When these muscles become weak, they allow the front part of the bottom of the ribcage to flare upward and outward. The entire ribcage becomes extended which flattens out midback, overly arches our lower backs, cause our heads to more forward, and disallow good ribcage motion with walking and breathing. This can cause any number of issues- headaches, neck pain, shoulder problems, lower back pain, etc. 


This also causes our diaphragm to move from a functional, domed position (similar to that with a held exhalation), to a flattened, ineffective one (similar to that with a held inhalation). When the diaphragm loses it's "zone of apposition" that would normally be maintained with good abdominal strength, we cannot effective breathe with it. When we cannot breathe with the diaphragm, the primary muscle of respiration, we must find other ways to get air into our lungs. We can do this many ways: extending our lower backs to open up our abdomin, using our neck muscles to try to lift the ribcage upward, or a combination of the two. This is how pain develops. 

To fix this, the internal obliques and transverse abdominis muscles need to be targeted. Not only does the rehabilitation effort need to be very targeted, it needs to be functional, i.e., it needs to be done with proper breathing mechanics. We must return the position of the diaphragm to one of a functional, domed, exhaled position. The only way to properly do this is with your internal obliques and transverse abdominis. 

It is not possible to fully rehabilitate and restore core strength and control without proper respiration and abdominal strengthening at the same time. 

This is the foundation of any PRI treatment plan. Proper respiration cannot occur without a functional core, and a functional core cannot happen without proper respiration. Let the therapists at the only PRI certified clinic in St. Louis help you to restore your function and reduce or eliminate your pain. Call us at 314-733-5000 or email or