It helps to stick out my boobs.
January 25, 2006 1:21 AM   Subscribe

Seriously, what the hell is up with my chest popping?

When I sit on our (incredibly floppy) couch a certain way, every 10 minutes or so I feel a tightness in my chest as if it needs to be popped. This usually happens when I'm knitting, and so I'm sure part of it has to do with either the way I hold my hands or the way I move them.

Over a few minutes (or maybe seconds — I haven't done a very scientific survey) I start to feel a tightness right in the middle of my chest, say right between my breasts. This is easily alleviated by rolling my sholders backwards or arching my back and sticking my boobs out, basically extending my (I assume compressed) chest and fixing things temporarily. Until 10 minutes later when I have to do it all again.

I'd go see a doctor but I live in rural Korea and they'll most likely tell me to take some herb and get over it. Plus, it's not so much painful as it is annoying and I'd like some ideas on how to avoid it altogether.

BTW, I am already working on trying to have better posture but our couch really sucks and provides very little back support. Also, FWIW, I do not crack my knuckles or anyting else like that very often.
posted by Brittanie to Health & Fitness (19 answers total)
I think I used to have something like this happen when I was a kid, so I am thinking it's non age/boobs specific.
posted by shanevsevil at 1:53 AM on January 25, 2006

Ho old are you? I had this problem when I was about 18-19 (although i had a funny looking pigeon chest, was concave and stuck out in the middle). Went away after a bit... growing "pains" possibly?
posted by twistedonion at 2:10 AM on January 25, 2006

25. I've been running a lot lately, but I think this is unrelated because, as I said, I mostly notice it only when I'm knitting.
posted by Brittanie at 2:18 AM on January 25, 2006

I don't think it's your boobs but the cartilage around your sternum - a mild form of costochondritis. I had a similar problem and the physio suggested I strengthen the muscles of my upper back so that naturally I held my shoulders further back instead of rounding them in. Perhaps you round your shoulders more when knitting and this triggers it.

The exercise to try is called a "face pull" - which is just like a row on a weight machine except you pull the weights up toward your face to work the upper back. You can also use an isoband tied to a door to achieve the same thing. Ideally try do the exercise daily for a few minutes.
posted by missbossy at 2:23 AM on January 25, 2006

For the record, I don't think this has anything to do with my boobs — they were just a reference point to describe where the pain occurs.

I guess that when someone says "boobs", people's ears perk up.
posted by Brittanie at 2:46 AM on January 25, 2006

The last few months, I've been working on posture improvement. I sit at the computer all day for work, and then come home and spend additional time on the Internet (I know: "get a life"). Anyway, I am attending some physical therapy sessions to work on my posture, related to neck muscle pain and headaches. My physical therapy homework has been several daily exercises: The W and the Chicken Wing for stretching out the chest and strengthening the upperback; push ups via leaning against the wall; rotator cuff strengthening with a uber-rubberband; and additional arm and chest stretches. The objective is exactly what missbossy mentioned: the need to get the shoulders to sit back and not round forward. Increasing upper back strength helps to balance out the tendency for slumping forward. Too much hunching forward causes the chest muscles to shorten up and over stretch the upperback.

I would image that ideal knitting posture would be very similar to sitting at a computer desk. (Good Working Positions). Yet the added obstacle in knitting posture is the need to look down at your work, which encourages the body to want to tip the head down and roll the shoulders forward.

I highly recommend that you continue working on posture and upgrade your favorite knitting spot to be ergonomically sound.
posted by chase at 3:09 AM on January 25, 2006

As far as exercises go, I have been doing lat pulls the past few times I've worked out, hopefully that will help some. The trouble with knitting is that you have to rest your hands on something. If you are holding a partially-finished sweater, it's very difficult to keep your arms and elbows suspended out away from your body for very long.

Many women use nursing pillows to rest their elbows on when they knit — perhaps I'll try that too.

For now, I'm trying to be more aware of how I'm sitting posture-wise.
posted by Brittanie at 3:21 AM on January 25, 2006

I have this same problem and have always wondered about it. Thanks for asking the question.

I suggest we form a support group, but we're gonna need a sexier name than Costochondritis, though, to pull in the big research funds. Knitters Boob, perhaps? (I realize it's not actually the boob that hurts).
posted by jacquilynne at 5:34 AM on January 25, 2006

DrtyBlvd, it's a furnished apartment or else we would have never had a floppy couch in the first place.

Also, have I mentioned my boobs yet?
posted by Brittanie at 5:50 AM on January 25, 2006

I came across this on a biking forum.
posted by glenwood at 6:35 AM on January 25, 2006

Previous talk of manubrium or sternum cracking.
posted by Mitheral at 6:44 AM on January 25, 2006

Thank goodness i'm not the only one! and I don't even have boobs! I have actually found it getting worse, ie. harder to 'pop' my sternum (which is where it feels tight for me). I had not thought about strengthening my back to compensate...

and a second here on damning floppy couches.
posted by iurodivii at 7:19 AM on January 25, 2006

Yep, I crack mine once in a while when I do a big stretch, too.
posted by knave at 10:08 AM on January 25, 2006

My manubrium has never cracked, but my Xiphoid Process cracks, or more so, pops terribly loud (though painlessly) quite often when I arch my back in a yawn or stretch.
posted by Sprocket at 10:20 AM on January 25, 2006

Yay! I'm not a freak. Ok. I'm not a freak about this chest popping thing. My doc just looked at me like I'm a loon when I asked him about the need to pop my sternum. I've found that I can sometimes pop it by twisting my torso without having to bend backwards.

I have noticed that it is getting better since I've been exercising.
posted by onhazier at 11:25 AM on January 25, 2006

If you've been running a lot lately, it might just be that your natural chest capacity is growing - and the popping is simply things adjusting. Muscle and cartilage and bone can all grow at differing rates, so sometimes you get episodes where things move around a bit, and a spell of bad posture puts stuff in the wrong place, where it needs to be popped out. I've had it before, too, when exercising a new bit, or upping the aerobics.
posted by DangerIsMyMiddleName at 1:12 PM on January 25, 2006

This happens to me, too. A tight feeling, which a good stretch and *POP* alleviates. Feels great. I figured it was just muscles and things.
posted by tomble at 5:27 PM on January 25, 2006

Yeah, me too. I do the pop by pressing the heel of one hand (using both hands to press) right on my sternum. It feels like a knuckle-crack, and freaks out my wife (who has boobs).
posted by booth at 7:58 AM on January 26, 2006

I get this as well, always freaks everybody out.
Thanks for asking the question! Very interesting.

I have tiny man boobs.
posted by slimepuppy at 8:48 AM on January 26, 2006

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