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The pain associated with getting a tattoo is considered a rite of passage. There are many ways to prepare for your tattoo so that you can mitigate some of your pain, but there are just some places that hurt more than others. In this edition of Tattoodo Guides, we take you on a journey for how to prepare for the pain of certain tattoo placements. Today we’re examining rib tattoos.
1. Your ribs don’t have a ton of muscle or fat over them.
Think about it. Your skin is stretched over a system of flexible bone — there’s not a ton of meat between your skin and the bone. Without something between your dermis and your ribs, the injection and vibration of the needle is really affecting your nerves, and that means pain.
2. You’re not entirely used to a lot of pinching and spiking pain in that area.
Unless you’re an MMA fighter that takes shots to the side for a living or a sensitive soul who sneezes hard enough to crack a rib, odds are rib pain is 100% new to you. Breathe, hydrate, and steady yourself.
3. Those muscles are thin and made for specific arm movement.
Raise your arms above your head. Drop them. Do it again. Notice something? Your torso muscles are compensating for your movement. Those are your serratus anterior muscles, as in the muscles that wrap around your rib cage. They aid in your ability to shimmy, wave, balance, surf, do a pull up, you name it. They’re incredible thin, and get a lot of action, regardless of how active you are, so you're bound to have a physiological reaction.
“The ribs were uncomfortable but not terrible,” says Shane, a tattoo collector based out of Portland, Maine. “It felt like kittens licked the tattoo onto my ribs, compared to what it felt like when the tattoo spanned down onto my love handle. It was vibrating on top of all my intestines and I made her take a break so I could take a shit.”
“It was insanely painful,” says Victor, Tattoodo’s Chief Growth Officer, of his own rib tattoo experience, captured in the video above. “It felt like an electric shock was running through all the bones in my body! The end result was so worth it though — I love the tattoos and I also learned how to be pretty zen in the process.”
There are many ways to prepare for pain. Ribs are just bound to hurt, much like sternums. Hydrate, breathe, go into your zen place — take breaks if you need to. The beauty is worth the pain, and a good regimen to prepare yourself is key.