Exercises for your sternum can involve anything from stretching to weightlifting. Weighted exercises develop the muscles of your chest that attach to your sternum and costal cartilage, giving a more full appearance to the musculature near your sternum. Stronger chest musculature increases your endurance for upper body exercise and strengthens underlying breast tissue.
Before working out your chest muscles, perform five to 10 minutes of low-to-moderate intensity aerobic exercise to warm up your muscles and lubricate your joints, advises the American Council on Exercise. Walking, jogging, riding a stationary bike or using an elliptical trainer increases your heart and respiratory rates to prepare your body for more intensive exercise.
Dumbbell Open Fly With Stability Ball
Using a spherical shape assists in opening the sternum and costal cartilage while strengthening your chest muscles. Lie back with your shoulder blades on top of the stability ball, squeezing your buttocks to hold your body parallel to the floor. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, side by side and above your sternum. Straighten your arms and slightly curve your elbows. Inhale deeply as you open your arms like birds wings. Feel your chest expand and your sternum rise as you inhale. Exhale and close your arms together again. Repeat eight to 12 times for three sets every other day. Add a stretch by lying your dumbbells down, opening your arms into a T position and breathing deeply.
Deep breathing expands your chest and pushes up and forward on your sternum. Stand with good posture. Draw your shoulder blades together in back. Hang your arms directly by your sides. Inhale deeply through your nose and feel your ribcage expand and your sternum rise. Hold this breath for five to 30 seconds. Slowly stack your forearms at the small of your back, exhale and continue your slow deep breaths. Repeat this exercise daily and continue for three months.
Dumbbell pullovers work your pectoralis or chest muscles, which attach to your sternum. Lie on your back on a weight bench with your feet planted on the floor. Avoid arching your back. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, placing the dumbbell perpendicular to the floor and supported in the groove between the palm of your hand and your thumb. Grasp the dumbbells and straighten your arms so the dumbbells are above your face. Inhale, bend your elbows and lower the dumbbells down behind your head. Exhale and push the dumbbells up to starting position. Repeat eight to 12 times for three sets. Perform this exercise every other day.
Your pectoralis muscle is a strong muscle that attaches along your sternum and across your chest to your upper arm. Slouching shortens this muscle and can cause your chest to appear concave. Stretch your chest by rolling up a large bath towel. Lay the towel on the floor and lie down on the towel with the towel running lengthwise up and down your spine. Spread your arms into a T position, palms up, to open your chest. Take deep breaths and feel your ribcage expand. Hold for a few minutes until you feel tension leave your muscles.
Explore In Depth
- American Council on Exercise: Chest Exercises
- Health Guidance: Exercises for Sunken Chest
- "Essentials of Human Anatomy and Physiology"; John W. Hole Jr.; 1986
- American Council on Exercise: Chest and Back Workout
Lynne Shaw has been a professional writer for more than 15 years. She additionally enjoyed a long career in news/talk radio production and anchoring. Her articles have appeared in numerous national and regional publications. She is a contributor in "Chicken Soup for the African American Woman's Soul."