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Pectus Excavatum Repair Part 1 - Exercises to Improve Chest Appearance

george of the jungle, Even brendan fraiser has PE :)

george of the jungle, Even brendan fraiser has PE :)

This hub is about pectus excavatum repair and I will share some exercises and things you can do to improve the appearance of your chest wall without going for the surgery option. As the surgery can take a long time to recover from and can also be very expensive and difficult in terms of getting insurance cover.

I may also write an article on how to get insurance cover if anyone is interested. These exercises are for people with mild to moderate pectus excavatum and remember if you feel any pain please stop immediately. Pectus excavatum repair is a slow process and requires consistent work to maintain and bring that sternum back to its original position.  


General Exercise & Posture

Pectus Excavatum repair will benefit from any sort of physical exercise. I have a few friends who joined the army when they had pectus excavatum and came out of it with an incredibly improved chest wall appearance.

They believe all that exercise and standing straight and marching has helped incredibly. Posture is something that can have a huge impact on how bad or good your chest will appear.

The best general exercises for improving your chest appearance are Running, Jogging, Swimming and Yoga. 

Weighted Exercises  

A great weight exercise to improve your pectus excavtum is the dumbbell pullover or barbell pullover. This exercise is great at strengthening chest muscles as well as getting a great expansion in the rib cage and helps push that sternum out, and don’t forget to warm before any short of weight exercise and take it easy.

The way I do this exercise at home is to either use a simple weight bench or lie down on the floor with a thing pillow placed behind under your back around where your sternum sinks to give your back a slight arc. This helps emphasize pressure on the sunken sternum area.

Improve Posture to Improve your Pectus Excavatum

Breathing exercises 

Deep breathing exercises can be incredibly beneficial to people with pectus excavatum as it will expand the ribcage and push out your sternum.


1. Stand straight with good posture

 2. Keep hands by your side and inhale, take a big breath, as big as you can possibly do and push out your chest.

 3. Hold your breath for 5-30 seconds (5 or less for beginners and 30 for more experienced people) and place your hands in the position seen below except not sitting, hand clasped behind upper neck .(note: don't kill yourself holding your breath doing this even for a short period you will feel it the more you do it. The aim is to expand the chest as large as possible.


This breathing technique in just as effective lying down on the ground or sitting straight in a chair just remember to breath in DEEP and if you do this consistently you should notice some improvement in about 3 months, if not you should notice your posture to have benefited from the exercises

the picture below shows how your arms should be placed behind your head. You can see the arrows pointing towards the back muscles, people with pectus excavatum will experience very tight back muscles and this is due to the pressure of the sunken sternum , I actually have some pretty dark looking stretch marks on my back because of P.E.

Scroll to Continue

Broom Twist  A simple exercise pectus excavatum repair exercise grab a long pole or broom stick and place it behind your neck and grab the stick with each hand about shoulder width apart. From then begin to twist slowly and controlled at the waist. This exercise will help bring in those flared ribs.  Other exercises beneficial to pectus excavatum repair: Yoga, swimming, jogging/running   


Continue on to Part 2 for Exercise Routine for Pectus Excavatum

This is part 1 of pectus excavatum repair , part 2 will contain more detailed exercise information

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Comments on August 02, 2016:

I agree with newcents, i have been doing the exact same exercises he and expectus mentioned and have improved my PE a bit. I hope to get a nice improvement in a near future. Will be doing the exercises everyday for results.

Newcents on August 27, 2014:

Hey - I just came across this. I have pectus excavatum and am approaching my mid 30s. I looked at surgery and was turned down because of my age. I wanted to add my thoughts. As you have stated, breathing exercises are important. I would submit that they are the most important ally in this fight. Your lungs, which are extremely strong in pushing on your sternum by holding your breath and focusing on holding your hands behind your head - this is the single most important aspect of your entire post. After doing this and focusing on sticking your chest out as far as possible while holding your breath for 5 to 30 seconds (as much as you can handle) then after you finish holding your breath grab your flared ribs and pull them in with your hands while continuing to hold your chest out, I have noticed lots of popping and movement in my sternum. Doing this as many times in a day as you can handle and also pushing above your "dip" in your sternum with both hands, I have noticed great results. I am not a medical professional and am only mentioning this as it has assisted in my own experience of encouraging my chest to flatten - a plunger. Find an industrial strength plunger and use it sparingly to encourage the sternum and rib attachment to additional movement by placing it in your affected area for a few seconds at a time. 30 to 60 seconds and continue with your breathing exercises. This really helps to encourage movement of the sternum. I have asthma. In the past, before doing my pectus breathing exercises, going to my parents house or my wife's grandparent's house I always had to take my inhaler. They have pets, don't clean as well, live in different states than my family with different pollen / dander, etc. Doing the pectus breathing exercise alone has opened up my chest so much and caused my flared ribs to move down to a more normal position (by applying pressure to the highest point on the flared ribs on either side using my hands immediately after a breathing exercise), I no longer need an inhaler! Previously, my rib cage was so bunched up, it was restricting my lungs. Now I feel like I have a fresh set of lungs and I haven't had an asthma flare up since! Being in my mid 30s and noticing progress, I have hopes for those older as well in noticing progress with correcting pectus Without surgery.

TapeLee on April 06, 2014:

HI I'm twenty this year. I'm 6 feet tall male and i have pe. I have been trying out these exercises for more than 2 months now. But I cant notice any difference neither better or worse. I think some of the OTHER exercises I do at the gym somehow worsened my PE condition. Can I do pull ups or sit ups? I feel these exercises squeeze my rib more than they do to expand it. Does sleeping posture affects the growth of my rib cage too?

Clalagect on November 19, 2013:

WONDERFUL Post.thanks for share..extra wait .. …


Tara Nicholls on November 12, 2013:

Sk... Fully correct doesn't mean perfect, but the nuss is the only way the specialists have said the sternum can be shifted outward, and it's pretty serious surgery. I have opted to do Cranial Sacral Therapy on my kids and will send them to an osteopath before I put an external brace on my kids when the surgeons at SICK KIDS hospital said any external brace will push the sternum in and make it worse.

It should be noted also on here that it is a form of rotatores scoliosis and that the exercise suggestions are fantastic on here if its a functional scoliosis and will help reduce further rotation if it's mechanical.

Cameron on November 11, 2013:


Awesome resource.

I'll have to check out those posture braces.

IM making a PE website myself.

Please check it out a tell me what you think.



roberto on September 24, 2013:

When I was 17 years old, I underwent a surgical operation (Ravitch procedure) in order to correct a severe form of sunken chest in Switzerland. The surgeon suggested swimming for improving my conditions. It is useful to practise weighlifting after some years, naturally under control of trainers.

Jim on October 28, 2012:

Thanks a lot

sk on October 20, 2012:

"Fully correct"

What is that mean, Tara11?

In my opinion there is no such a thing as "full correction". There is full recovery. But correction? No. This is only in the eyes of the beholder.

When speaking about Pectus excavatum the exact word that makes sense is IMPROVEMENT.

Described here exercises lead to improvement.

And here are some alternatives (I've tried only Vacuum bell, and still using it):

Vacuum bell:


Tara11 on September 13, 2012:

My children both have severe p.e. at the hospital for sick children the specialist said the braces are actually for pigeon chest, not for excavatum, and that an external brace will only put more pressure on the sternum and therefore heart. Apparently the only way to fully correct p.e. is with Nuss brace which is an incredibly painful procedure and if active can twist and cause further complications or even death. It is only for people who's lives are already at risk or don't play contact sports. Down the road it can also increase chances for spontaneous pneumothora

Footballer on August 07, 2012:

Are this breathing exercises really working? Do you guys think it would help with doing that, pullovers and a good posture?

A guy from Norway :)

My favorite PE exercise on July 10, 2012:

My favorite exercise that gives me the best results PLUS i can actually feel it when i'm done, is the pullover. I lie flat on my weight bench, with my head hanging off the edge (so basically sitting very far up on the weight bench.) and I take about 40 pounds of weight, holding it straight out above my head, (don't drop them on your face) then slowly extend my arms back and level with my body bring the weight to a level position behind my head keeping my arms straight the whole time. And then back up in the air above my face again. I do about 3 sets of 10 and when i'm done I can COMPLETELY feel my chest is pulled out a little bit. It feels good.

PS - holla back

devabrat9 on July 03, 2012:

Yoga poses are among the favorite exercise to correct posture problems. There is a yoga for back pain, for weight loss, for pregnant moms and meditative yoga which is the simplest form of yoga pose.

sparkz on May 28, 2012:

i have been doing dumbell pullovers and upper ab exercises and i am actually seeing a difference. just had to share

GamerProZ on May 07, 2012:

Hi I'm 16 years old and I have a mild case of P.E that is probably at most 1 - 2.5 cm and I was wondering if my current exercises will help me: 4-5 times at the gym doing several chest exercises including dumbbell pullovers, broom twist for 5-6 minutes each day, and deep breathing. I personally don't like the brace and was just wondering if this will help me see results because I just started this routine about a couple weeks ago. Oh and if possible could you please tell me when I can see any results because sometimes when I look at the mirror and still see it there I get really discouraged and feel like what I'm doing is useless.

Rahul Rawat on March 17, 2012:

Thanks you helped a lot

sk on January 11, 2012:

The latest and probably the most precise description of Rader Chest Pull - read here:

JohnnyFrost on January 10, 2012:

Hi all.

I'm a 24 year old male who is physically fit and has PE.

There's some really great bits of information here and I feel that I've have hugely benefited from the breathing exercises. I'm doing the gym scene (cardio and weights training) and I'm working on increasing my BMI (body mass index) by bulking up, as this is a good way to look great and decrease the appearance of PE.

I've been self-conscious about my chest for years and have spent a lot of time trawling the web for "quick fixes" and inexpensive corrective procedures only to be left with the harsh realization that it costs more than "an arm and a leg" to fix the chest.

With this sobering thought in mind I decided to work on gaining more body mass. As this can be turned into muscle, which is something we all want. I'm currently working on my pecs and abdominal area and already I can see the foundations of a great new image.

For anyone that's frustrated, depressed or really upset about the way they look then just remember this quote: ["if we are all born the same then what would bring us together?."]

Good luck to you all.

Peace, from New Zealand

SK ANSAR on January 07, 2012:

Hi Dear,

My chest is bend so, if you have any tips pls provide me i will use to improve my self

Pls Help me.

If have any question pls forward me a mail. My mail id is

Sam on December 16, 2011:

Hey, I'm 15 and I had an operation to try and repair the my pectus excavatum, but its still far from looking like a normal chest, so I was just wondering wether these excersises would work or be useful?

alex on November 26, 2011:

hey expectus,

when i do the breathing exercises do i start off with my hands by my side and then clasp them round my neck when i breathe in? or do i have my hands starting clasped around my neck when i do the breathing exercise?

deacon on November 22, 2011:

This board has helped me immensely. After testing I've found my pectus is very mild (to me it looked severe). I always found it annoying that there wasn't a lot of people posting things that they found successful in repairing their pectus. About 2 months ago I started working on my posture, and doing breathing exercises everyday, and I have noticed a marked improvement in the depth of my pectus (about 1cm) and its overall appearance. I'm now even starting to shed some of the self-consciousness that had plagued me my entire adolescence. Now that my lung capacity has improved I will now try and add running and ab exercises into my routine, hopefully it will help as well. I hope this info will inspire others and even help repair their pectus. Do not get discouraged... the change is slow, but it does work.

Glen on November 06, 2011:

H there. I have fairly severe PE and looking for recommendations for a good posture brace that will target flared ribs. I want to use it in conjunction with a weights and exercise routine... Any suggestions?

IWouldLiketoKeepAnonymous on October 26, 2011:

Thanks for all the info man, Now i know there's a fix for my "problem"

andy on October 05, 2011:

@bee thanks bro that really encouraged me :)

Bee on September 21, 2011:

I might add.. Im 24 and have been gymming quite abit too. Id suggest working on ur chest abs and back it helps with hole to body ratio and helps with posture. Id still recommend doing the whole body. And stretch you hamstrings.. because pectus peeps including myself have really tight hammies for some reason.

Posture + Weights + Breathing exercises + some sort of corset to fix flaring ribs = A worthy improvement

I feel better about myself already... starting to see it more as a difference than a deformity.

Best of Luck guys.

Bee on September 21, 2011:

This stuff actually works... wow thanks Pectus dude. I kinda wish doctors had this kind of information as well. Im extremely impressed with the results... and all i have done is the breathing exercisies and tied a string around my body to correct my assymetric flared rib. I don't know how permanent these changes are but ive only been doing it for one week.

Sam C on August 17, 2011:

Hello everybody I'm 17 years old and i have a moderate case of pectus excavatum about 1 year and a half ago I was very self consious about my pectus and I had a very low self esteem but then I joined the gymnastics team for my school, after the season ended my body changed significantly because it involved a lot of stretching and a lot of of strength training involving my bodyweigh after that I believed I could do anything, over the past year up until now I have been working out and trying the

excercises above and I still continue doing gynastics and my pectus changes little by little, I may not know much now but I'm still learning and trying new things if anyone wants some advice just email me at

nikola on August 10, 2011:

hey expectus how to do the Breathing exercises ??? on the chair or standing ???

Dave on July 19, 2011:

I'm 59 years old and only found this 3 weeks ago. My PE gives me a sunken chest of about 4cm. Already I've found that the exercises have adjusted the bottom of my ribcage so I can wear a tighter shirt without being self conscious about it. The sternum is still sunk but I intend to push on with the deep breathing. Some of it may be too late for me now, but it's already made some difference. Thank you.

tommy on July 12, 2011:

hi guys

I'm nearly 16 :) and im very worried about my Pectus Excavatum . are there any techniques that are good for my age? please reply to me as im very worried and people lough at me in school :(

deadlyteddy4 on June 20, 2011:

im 18 and i do workout in the gym but my PE is strange because my right pec is like anyone elses, but my sternum dips in about 1.5cm and seems to fall to the left, making my chest look like someone has taken a small chunk out of the left side, are there any specific exercises that i should focus on my left pec, or should i continue working both the same?

Leo on June 14, 2011:

Thank... my heart is full of hope that this disorder could be cured.

Dan on May 11, 2011:

Im 19, and with the pullovers and deep breathing, i have actually seen quite a difference on how much my sternum has gone outwards with all the pressure it puts on my sternum, it has helped my self-esteem greatly, thanks

billy on April 26, 2011:

hello i live in southern california and have pe i am a 32 year old male who wants to have surgery i have chest pains and trouble breathing. i am new to your site i was wondering if there is any sugeons in southern california? i have kaiser permente insurance and how can i convince them to pay for it and not just say its cosmetic?

Davin on April 25, 2011:

Hi, I have P.E. and I'm a martial artist, should I avoid hits to the chest?

rex on April 17, 2011: