Costochondritis Stretches: Exercises to Relieve Chest Pain

Costochondritis is a harmless swelling (inflammation) of the cartilage that connects the ribs to the breastbone (sternum), creating a costochondral joint. Costochondritis feels like a sharp or aching pain in the chest area. It can start suddenly or develop slowly and spread across the chest. Costochondritis is often mistaken for a heart attack because it is located near the heart, but it is not life-threatening and will usually go away on its own without treatment. Engaging in costochondritis stretches can help you relieve pain at home, learn more below.

What stretches can you do for costochondritis?

  1. Wall Stretch

The wall stretch for costochondritis is a stretching exercise that targets the chest muscles to relieve pain and reduce inflammation caused by costochondritis.

To perform this stretch, stand with your side facing a wall or doorway and raise your arms to the side with bent elbows.

Rest your forearm against the wall and lean forward to stretch your chest muscles. You can increase the strength of this stretch by placing both arms on either side of a doorframe with bent elbows and hands raised.

Install CareClinic App

Hold this position for 30 seconds before releasing then repeat on the other end for optimal results.

  1. Doorway Pectoral Stretch

The doorway pectoral stretch for costochondritis is a stretching exercise that targets the pectoral muscles in the chest.

To perform this stretch, stand in a doorway, and place both elbows and forearms up against the doorjamb on either side of you.

Try the CareClinic app

Keep your elbows against the doorjamb while leaning forward to stretch the muscles in your chest. Hold this position for 15 to 30 seconds and repeat it three to five times.

  1. Superman Pose

The Superman Stretch is a stretch that involves lying on your stomach and raising both arms overhead.

This pose is ideal for those suffering from costochondritis as it helps to increase the range of motion in the chest and shoulder area, which can help reduce pain and stiffness.

It also stretches out the muscles around the ribs and spine, reducing tension in these areas. By doing this pose regularly, you will be able to ease any pain associated with costochondritis more effectively than with other types of stretching exercises.

  1. Cat-Cow Pose

The Cat-Cow Pose is a yoga asana that involves moving from a flat back to a rounded back, then to an arched back. It can be done lying on the floor or standing.

The purpose of this pose is to stretch and massage the spine, as well as relax the muscles in the chest, abdomen, and neck areas.

The Cat-Cow Pose is beneficial for people with costochondritis because it increases blood flow to these areas while also providing relief from any pain or discomfort associated with the condition.

By stretching out different parts of the body and massaging tense muscles, this pose can help reduce pain associated with costochondritis more quickly than other methods such as medication or rest alone.

  1. Crescent Pose

The Crescent Pose is a yoga pose that involves kneeling on the floor with your legs spread apart and pressing into the floor with your palms. You then lift your sternum and stay in this position for 30 seconds to one minute.

The Crescent Pose is beneficial for costochondritis because it helps relieve tension in the chest area, thus reducing pain associated with this condition.

  1. Child’s Pose

Child’s Pose is a kneeling pose where you sit on your heels with your torso leaning forward and arms extended in front of you to keep your chest open. It is used to relieve pain from costochondritis by stretching the chest muscles and abdomen, as well as reducing stress levels.

Child’s Pose is effective for treating costochondritis because it stretches the chest muscles and abdomen, which helps reduce inflammation in these areas.

  1. Downward-Facing Dog Pose

The Downward-Facing Dog Pose is a yoga pose that helps stretch and relax the body. It involves lying on your stomach with your legs straight, lifting your chest, placing your hands flat on the floor beneath your shoulders, and pushing down through the palms to lift through the hips.

To practice this pose for costochondritis, you should focus on stretching out the chest muscles while breathing deeply. You can also add in some gentle shoulder shrugs if you feel any pain or discomfort in that area.

What are the causes of costochondritis?

  1. Inflammation of the rib cartilage

Costochondritis is the result of inflammation in the costochondral joints, which are located where the ribs meet the sternum (breastbone). The exact cause of this inflammation is unknown, but it can be triggered by physical injury or strain to the area, as well as certain medical conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.

When cartilage becomes inflamed due to costochondritis, it becomes painful and tender to the touch. In some cases, there may also be swelling around the affected area.

  1. Stress on the rib cage

Stress on the rib cage is a condition where the posterior ribs are frozen and unable to move, causing excessive strain on the joints where the ribs connect to the breastbone. This results in pain and inflammation in this area.

It can be caused by injury or trauma to the rib cage, such as from motor vehicle accidents, falls, sports injuries, or other physical trauma. Finally, certain medical conditions such as arthritis may also lead to stress on the rib cage which can lead to costochondritis.

  1. Injury or trauma to the ribs

The causes of injury or trauma to the ribs that lead to costochondritis include:

  • Injury or trauma to the posterior rib joints (where the ribs hinge onto the spine).
  • Inflamed or damaged cartilage connecting the ribs to the breastbone.
  • Irritation and inflammation of surrounding tissues due to trauma.

Costochondritis can be caused by injury or trauma due to sudden movements that put excessive stress on the posterior rib joints where they connect with the spine. It can also occur when there is inflammation of surrounding tissues due to trauma, which causes pain in this area.

  1. Inflammatory arthritis

Inflammatory arthritis is a type of joint disease caused by inflammation in the joints. It can lead to pain, stiffness, and reduced movement in the joints.

Inflammatory arthritis can be caused by several factors, such as genetics, environmental factors such as smoking or exposure to certain chemicals/toxins, injury or trauma to the joints, and infections such as hepatitis B or C or HIV/AIDS.

Other causes may include certain medications such as steroids or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

The effects of inflammatory arthritis depend on its underlying cause but can include pain and discomfort in the affected joints; redness; swelling; limited range of motion; fatigue and weakness due to loss of strength in muscles surrounding affected joints.

  1. Chest wall syndrome

Costochondritis is a condition that involves inflammation of the cartilage that connects the ribs to the breastbone. It causes intense pain in the chest area, usually around the lower end of the breastbone.

The pain may radiate towards the shoulder or arm and can be worsened by breathing in deeply or coughing.

Costochondritis can be caused by physical trauma to the chest region, such as being hit or punched in that area. Other possible causes include infections such as pneumonia, Lyme disease, or mononucleosis.

Additionally, chronic stressors like fatigue and poor posture have been known to trigger this condition. The effects of costochondritis can range from mild discomfort to severe pain which interferes with normal daily activities such as breathing deeply or exercising vigorously.

  1. Chronic cough

Costochondritis is a condition in which there is inflammation of the cartilage that connects the ribs to the breastbone (costochondral junctions). Chronic cough can be caused by costochondritis as it can lead to irritation and inflammation of these joints.

The effect of chronic cough due to costochondritis is usually an increase in mucus production and a feeling of heaviness in the chest. Other symptoms associated with this condition include pain, tenderness, and difficulty breathing deeply or coughing effectively.

  1. Various diseases and conditions

Costochondritis can be caused by several diseases and conditions, such as:

  • Arthritis: Costochondritis can be a symptom of arthritis, particularly if the joints in the neck or upper back are affected.
  • Infections: Infections such as pneumonia or flu could lead to costochondritis.
  • Trauma: Injury to the chest area can cause costochondritis due to inflammation of the surrounding tissues.
  • Heart disease: Heart disease is another potential cause of costochondritis since it may affect blood flow to the chest area resulting in pain.

What are the symptoms of costochondritis?

  1. Severe chest pain

The symptoms of severe chest pain caused by costochondritis include intense pain in the chest area, aches in the shoulders and upper back, difficulty breathing and shortness of breath, a feeling of pressure in the chest area, nausea/vomiting, fatigue/weakness/fatigue.

  1. Pain when moving the chest

When costochondritis causes pain in the chest, it can feel sharp and stabbing. The pain may be worse when moving your upper body, lying down, breathing deeply, and pressing the middle of your chest. It may also feel like a burning sensation or stiffness in your chest area.

  1. Pain that gets worse with exercise

Costochondritis is a condition that causes pain in the chest, often around the area of the ribs. The pain can range from mild to severe and may worsen with certain movements or activities.

Exercising can help reduce pain and improve blood flow to injured areas, as well as decrease tension in muscles and joints. However, it is important to avoid strenuous exercises that could put too much pressure on inflamed areas, such as costochondritis.

  1. Pain that gets worse when coughing

Costochondritis pain typically feels like a sharp or burning sensation in the chest area. It can range from mild to severe and may worsen with deep breathing, physical activity, sneezing, or coughing.

  1. Fatigue

Costochondritis is a type of musculoskeletal pain that is caused by irritation or inflammation of the costal cartilage, which connects each rib to the sternum. It can be caused by trauma, overuse, or strain from coughing, lifting heavy objects, or other activities. The pain associated with costochondritis usually starts gradually and worsens with movement. It can range from mild to severe in intensity and may radiate into the shoulder and arm regions.

  1. Sweating

Sweating as a symptom of costochondritis is the release of watery fluid from the sweat glands in response to inflammation or irritation of the costochondral joints.

Costochondritis occurs when there is inflammation or irritation of the cartilage that connects the ribs to the breastbone (sternum). This can cause pain and swelling, which may lead to sweating as a way for your body to release heat and reduce discomfort.

The excess moisture from sweating can also irritate the skin around affected areas, making symptoms worse.

How do you treat costochondritis at home?


Stretching can help treat costochondritis at home by increasing the mobility of your chest muscles and joints, reducing pressure on your ribs, and providing relief from the pain.

By performing stretching exercises regularly, you can reduce pain and discomfort caused by costochondritis, improve your range of motion, and reduce inflammation in the chest area.

Breathing exercises

  • Sit on a stability ball and gently roll it down until it is securely placed under your neck and upper back.
  • Extend your arms sideways and feel your chest muscles stretch while breathing normally for 10-15 seconds.
  • Lay on your back with knees bent, place one hand on the belly and the other on the chest, inhale or breathe in filling up the belly, then exhale or breathe out allowing the belly to fall for several minutes continuously if desired.


Massage can help treat costochondritis at home by reducing the inflammation and pain caused by this condition. By using a foam roller or other type of massage tool, you can roll out tight muscles to relieve tension and speed up muscle recovery. Additionally, massaging the chest area can help relieve pain associated with costochondritis.


Consult your doctor to determine the best medication for costochondritis. Your doctor may recommend nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or aspirin.

Take the prescribed medications as directed, usually twice daily for several days or until symptoms subside.

If you experience side effects such as nausea, dizziness, vomiting, or diarrhea while taking the medication, contact your doctor right away for further instructions on how to manage it effectively without any adverse effects occurring in your body system.

Costochondritis Stretches & Exercise

Exercise can help treat costochondritis by increasing blood flow, strengthening muscles, and reducing stress and anxiety.

Regular exercise can help reduce the symptoms of costochondritis by decreasing pain, improving breathing capacity and movement range, reducing fatigue and tension, promoting a sense of well-being, lowering stress levels, and relieving anxiety.

Heat and cold therapy

  • Use heat pads or a Vapocoolant spray on the affected area to provide relief from pain.
  • Heat therapy can be used to relax tense muscles and ease pain, while cold therapy can help reduce inflammation and swelling of tissues around the chest wall.
  • Heat pads can also be used to increase blood flow and improve circulation in the area, while cold pads may help reduce muscle spasms by reducing nerve activity in that area.
  • Place heat or cold packs on the painful areas for 15-20 minutes at a time, twice daily for best results; you may need to experiment with different temperatures until you find one that works best for you.

Supportive Clothing

Supportive clothing for treating costochondritis at home includes:

  • Supportive bras: These bras provide additional support to the chest area and can help reduce pain.
  • Compression tops and shirts: These garments provide compression to the chest area, which can reduce swelling and discomfort.
  • Sweaters or cardigans: These items can keep your body warm while providing comfort against the skin.
  • Dressings or tapes for sore spots: Dressings or adhesive tapes can be used on areas that are more painful to provide relief from irritation and pressure.


Meditation can help treat costochondritis at home by reducing stress, slowing down the heart rate and breathing rates, and increasing focus and relaxation.

By practicing meditation regularly, individuals with costochondritis can experience reduced symptoms such as pain, chest tightness, or pressure.

Sleep Quality Improvement

Sleep quality can be improved by reducing stress, practicing good sleep hygiene, and getting adequate rest.

By improving your sleep quality, you can reduce the pain and discomfort associated with costochondritis. This will also help you feel more rested and energized throughout the day.


What are some exercises to relieve costochondritis pain?

Exercises to relieve costochondritis pain include:

  • Postural exercises such as breathing techniques, gentle stretches, and relaxation techniques.
  • Chest wall mobility exercises such as those that focus on stretching the chest wall muscles or strengthening them.
  • Low-impact aerobic exercises like swimming or walking can also help reduce pain associated with costochondritis.

What treatment options are available for costochondritis?

The treatment options for costochondritis include prescription-strength or over-the-counter nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), prescription pain relievers containing codeine, antidepressants or anti-anxiety drugs to control chronic pain, anti-seizure drugs to control chronic pain, numbing medicine or corticosteroids injected directly into the painful rib joints, physical therapy and rest.

When comparing these treatment options for costochondritis, it is important to note that they are all symptomatic and meant to ease the patient’s pain. NSAIDs provide temporary relief from inflammation while prescription pain relievers and corticosteroids provide longer-lasting relief but may have side effects such as constipation or nausea.

Is there a diet to help with costochondritis?

Yes, there is a costochondritis diet that can help reduce inflammation and pain. It focuses on eliminating soft drinks, sugar, junk foods, and caffeine and increasing the consumption of foods high in flavonoids such as spinach, blueberries, and strawberries.

It is also important to keep a record of what you eat and track your pain level so you can see if changes in your diet are helping or not. If your chest pain is severe then you should seek immediate medical attention as costochondritis can be treated with lifestyle adjustments without any lasting problems.


costochondritis is a common condition that causes pain and inflammation in the chest area. It is important to understand the causes, symptoms, and treatment options available for costochondritis in order to better manage the condition. Stretching, breathing exercises, massage, medication, exercise, heat and cold therapy, supportive clothing, meditation, and sleep quality improvement can all help to alleviate the symptoms of costochondritis.

Additionally, a costochondritis diet can help manage inflammation and reduce pain. It is important to note that costochondritis can be treated with lifestyle adjustments without any lasting problems and if the chest pain is severe, it is important to seek medical attention right away.



Download CareClinic Pill & Symptom Tracker App

Chloe M.