Is your chest crooked, uneven, or asymmetrical? An uneven chest is more common than you may think. It can be the result of relatively uncomplicated causes that are simple to address or may be the result of a medical condition that requires surgery or treatment.
At times, uneven chest muscles are the result of dominance or favoritism in one side of your body. If you’re right-handed and perform most of your tasks with your right side, you’re more likely to develop stronger or bigger muscles in the right side of your chest.
If your chest is uneven because of dominance or favoritism, the good news is that it may be improved with exercise. In many cases, you can work your pectoral muscles — pectoralis major and minor — to remedy your chest imbalance.
An uneven chest can also be the result of a condition that requires medical attention or surgery.
There are several conditions that may cause an uneven chest or rib cage. These are typically present at birth or develop over time and are often treated with surgical procedures.
Pectus excavatum, or funnel chest, is a condition where your breastbone is sunken into your chest. It’s the most common developmental condition affecting the sternum, resulting in about Pectus carinatum, also known as pigeon chest, is believed to be caused by the abnormal growth of cartilage between the ribs and breastbone. This causes the chest to curve outward. This condition is usually present at birth, but makes a more obvious appearance as a child grows. It occurs in approximately 1 in 1,000 births.
Pectus arcuatum, or wave chest, is a rare condition that includes a protruding upper sternum with a concave lower sternum.
If you were born with missing muscles in one side of your body, you may have Poland syndrome. Poland syndrome can cause chest unevenness, along with underdeveloped arms, hands, or fingers on the affected side.
Scoliosis is an abnormal curving of the spine. This can cause rotation and compensation of other parts of your body and make your chest and shoulders uneven. Treatment depends on the severity of the case. Physical therapy and back braces are often recommended as a first-line treatment. More severe cases may require surgery.
Humans aren’t completely symmetrical. If your chest imbalance is due to incorrect workout methods or preference of one arm over the other, methods to remedy or improve it may include:
Exercising your weak side
If you consistently use one side of your body for lifting objects or performing daily tasks, this could cause your chest to become uneven.
Make an effort to use your less developed side to lift things in order to balance out the strength and muscle composition on that side. Include your arms and shoulders on the less-dominant side in more day-to-day activities as well.
Exercising with dumbbells may help rehabilitate the weaker side of your chest. Dumbbells< allow you to target the part of your chest that needs to be activated. Increasing the amount of reps on your weak side can assist with treating your uneven chest. Common dumbbell chest exercises include:
- dumbbell chest press
- lying chest fly
- standing chest fly
- incline chest press
Studies have shown a daily hatha yoga routine can improve the breath capacity of your lungs, improve the flexibility of your chest, and increase muscle strength. A regular yoga practice allows for both whole-body and focused exercises on particular muscle groups. It’s also been shown to improve posture.
Creating a balanced chest workout routine
If you’re in the habit of going to the gym, you’re one step ahead. Mixing up your chest workout routine will not only help you stay interested, but it’ll also build more even muscle definition in your chest and pectoral muscles.
If you’re not a gym goer, you can help even out your chest by performing chest exercises with minimal equipment at home, such as:
Working with a personal trainer
If you’re struggling in the gym or at home, you may need to get a personal trainer or ask for help from someone with experience. Poor workout form may be contributing to your uneven chest and a trainer or fitness professional will be able to help you correct your technique.
An uneven chest is likely due to one side of your chest being used more than the other. With a corrected workout routine and hard work, your chest will usually improve.
If your problem is a medical one — such as pectus excavatum or scoliosis — you’ll need to talk to your doctor about treatment, which may include surgery.
If your chest unevenness is causing you extreme stress, plan to ask your doctor about it at your next appointment.