I recently learned I have pectus excavatum. If you’ve never heard of it its a congenital chest wall deformity in which several ribs and the sternum grow abnormally, producing a concave, or caved-in, appearance in the anterior chest wall. Pectus excavatum is the most common type of congenital chest wall abnormality (90%). Pectus excavatum occurs in an estimated 1 in 300-400 births. Example below.
I just learned I have this deformity and it did not come as a surprise. I have always known there was something wrong with my chest I just thought it never fully developed before I was born. I was always self conscious about it as a kid and also as an adult. The main reason I started working out was to try to fix this deformity myself. I made a lot of progress over the years but I still have a sunken chest. I just learned why I wasnt able to fully correct this problem myself. Pectus causes bad posture and rounds your shoulders by pulling them forward (causing your chest to sink in more). This causes you not to be able to get a full stretch when performing chest exercises. If you are unable to get a full stretch it places a limit on how much you chest will grow. Pectus also causes a lack of muscle developement in your back mostly the rhomboids and mid-scapular muscles(the video below goes more into detail). Pectus also inhibits your abdominal development due to the fact it causes poor posture pectus prevents you from being able to stretch your abs thoroughly. With better posture and performing ab exercises correctly you can get the six-pack you always wanted as well. Pectus excavatum prevents me from working every inch of my pecs I have developed my chest pretty good but it is still noticeable. I have been doing research on ways to correct his deformity without surgery. There are a lot of exercises you can do to develop your chest. The videos below offer great ways to build your chest, stretch properly and correct our posture.
- incline dumbell bench press
- dumbell pullover
This Video with show great exercised to help with fixing your pectus excavatum.
This video shows how you can properly stretch your pecs to maximize your pec development.
I have just started using these techniques and will keep you updated on my progress.
I have a mild case but I am also exploring other remedies. There is a medical procedure called the Nuss procedure which is performed in extreme cases.
The Nuss procedure also aims to force the sternum forward and hold it there with an implanted steel bar, but without making a big incision to resect the abnormal cartilage. In this procedure, the curved steel bar is placed under the sternum through two small incisions on the sides of the chest. Because the sternum is forced outward and held under great pressure, the Nuss procedure results in more pain and discomfort than the modified ravitch procedure. The steel structs must remain in place for approximately 2-4 years in order to properly reform the chest. This sounds like a painful and dangerous procedure so I do not plan on having this done.
As you can see below mine isnt extreme but it is still very noticeable. You can see it prominently in my middle and lower chest area. I have been working out since I was 19 I am now 36. I hope to make some improvement to my pectus excavatum with these new exercise tips and stretching tips. I have found new motivation on the fact that I may be able to fix this myself.
The picture above is exactly how I looked as a kid and teenager. I would rarely take my shirt off at the pool and I was ridiculously skinny.I wish I would have know about this sooner or my parents would have sent me to a specialist. I remember having a physical once and the Doctor just told me to do 20 pushups a day (which my dad made me do). I’m assuming doctors did not know much about it back then. Even at that age and that time of my life I remained confident. Confidence is something my dad always instilled in me and I am very appreciative of that because I don’t know how I would have managed without it. I still have the bad posture which I am working very hard to correct. I am going to try everything humanly possible to correct this deformity without surgery. I plan on using the pectus workout (as I call it) 2-3 times a week and may increase the frequency depending on the results.
There are braces that are available but I am not sure how effective they are. There is a medical brace you have to get custom fitted which costs about $1400.00. I also saw a brace on amazon for about $350.00 which looks like a backwards back brace. I would use braces as a last resort but they do make braces that are good for correcting bad posture which I do plan on trying. As I mentioned before my pectus is mild so I’m hoping I can repair this myself without surgery.
There are extreme cases of pectus which require surgery because the rib cage is impacting the lungs and the heart. If you have trouble breathing I suggest you see a doctor as soon as possible because you may require surgery. In bad cases of pectus the ribs can also impede the heart from fully contracting
In closing if you have pectus excavatum it is not a death sentence or the end of the world it just means you’re slightly different. It also means you have to do a little more as far as exercise, stretching and staying focused on your posture. If you use these tools overtime I promise you will make improvement on your pectus. You will gain more confidence and your will develop a positive body image that you will love. If I can do it I know anyone can do it. Dont let pectus define you everyone has things they are self conscious about, use it as motivation to put in the work and don’t give up. As I mentioned before it is fairly common 1 in every 300-400 people have pectus so remember you better yet WE are not alone. Remain confident, don’t give up, remember you can fix this (and say it out loud to yourself) Contact me if you need any tips, motivation or just need someone to talk to about it.