Lateral Rib Expansion Test

Original Editor - Lilian Ashraf
Top Contributors - Lilian Ashraf

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The lateral rib expansion test is used in the clinical assessment of breathing pattern. Dysfunctional breathing patterns have been linked to many conditions such as neck pain and low back pain.[1]

It is an observational and palpatory assessment of lateral rib expansion during normal and maximal respirations.[1]

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The test can be performed from supine, sitting or standing position. The examiner palpated the participant’s spine (approximately T9-T10 spinous process) with the thumbs and hands resting over the participant’s lower rib cage.[1]

Patients who functionally breathe exhibit visible lateral rib expansion and no visible superior migration of the thoracic cage.[1]


Evidence[edit | edit source]

Horris et al, did not find a significant difference in lateral expansion test results across body positions in supine, seated, and standing, suggesting that lateral rib expansion may not be influenced by increased postural demands on the body in these positions.[1]

Future research on the clinical utility of the LRE tests to establish intra- and interrater reliability is needed.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Horris H, Anderson BE, Bay RC, Bliven KC. Clinical breathing mechanics differ based on test and position. Journal of Sport Rehabilitation. 2019 Aug 1;28(6):635-9.
  2. Flourish Columbus. Lateral Rib Expansion in sidelying. Available from: [last accessed 9/5/2023]