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If you’re suffering from lower back pain or discomfort to your hips and buttocks, it could be due to dysfunction in your sacroiliac (SI) joint.
Sacroiliac joint pain tends to happen when the joints become inflamed or irritated although there are other causes of SI pain which we’ll look at below.
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Fortunately, there are some si joint pain exercises you can do to help alleviate the pain and discomfort associated with si joint dysfunction so you can improve your overall quality of life.
Understanding Si Joint Pain
Sacroiliac joint dysfunction (SIJD) is a medical condition whereby the sacroiliac joints experience pain or dysfunction.
These joints are responsible for connecting the spine to the pelvis and play an important role in stability and load transfer between the upper body and the legs.
The condition can be caused by various factors including the below:
An incident resulting in trauma, such as a fall or car accident, can lead to inflammation or misalignment of the sacroiliac joints.
The hormonal changes during pregnancy can cause the ligaments around the sacroiliac joints to become more lax, potentially leading to instability and pain.
Inflammatory conditions such as ankylosing spondylitis or axial spondylarthritis can affect the joints, causing sacroiliac pain and limited mobility.
In this instance there will usually be a gradual onset of pain and discomfort to the si joint.
Weakness or tightness in the muscles around the pelvis and lower back can affect the alignment and stability of the sacroiliac joints which may result in si joint issues.
Poor posture or biomechanics can put extra pressure on the sacroiliac joints, leading to discomfort and low back pain.
What Are The Symptoms Of SI Joint Pain?
There are several signs that could indicate a si problem.
The most common symptoms of sacroiliac joint dysfunction include:
You’ll typically feel pain on one side of your lower back or buttocks which may also radiate down one leg, mimicking sciatic nerve pain.
The pain can vary in intensity and location, but it’s one of the primary symptoms associated with this condition and is often described as sharp, dull, achy or even throbbing in nature.
This pain can also become worse when performing certain daily activities such as walking, climbing the stairs, or standing for long periods.
You may find it difficult to move your lower back due to stiffness in your lumbar spine, especially when transitioning from sitting to standing or vice versa.
The sacroiliac joints are closely connected to your lumbar spine, and dysfunction to these joints can lead to altered mechanics and movement patterns.
A sensation of the joint “giving way” or feeling unstable.
This is because your sacroiliac joints are critical for providing stability to your pelvis and lower spine.
When these joints are dysfunctional, it can result in compromised stability and lead to feelings of instability.
Pressure or touch on the affected area may be painful and tender.
Tenderness is often a result of inflammation and irritation in the affected joint or the surrounding soft tissues.
If you have any of the above symptoms, it’s important to seek medical advice from a qualified professional such as a physical therapist or your healthcare provider who can offer a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.
The Best SI Joint Pain Exercises
Now that you know the most common symptoms and causes of si joint pain, let’s consider some examples of exercises to help provide some pain relief.
Before starting any new exercise plan, it’s recommended you consult a healthcare professional, such as a physical therapist, to ensure that the exercises are appropriate for your specific situation.
They can provide personalized guidance and adjustments based on your needs.
That said, here are some exercises that are commonly recommended to address SI joint pain:
Hip Flexor Stretch
The hip flexor stretch is a great exercise to stretch out the muscles located at the front of your hip and upper thigh.
When your hip flexors are tight this can contribute to imbalances to the pelvic region, which may exacerbate SI joint dysfunction and pain.
Stretching these muscles can help address some of these imbalances and provide relief from SI joint discomfort.
How To Perform The Hip Flexor Stretch:
- Start by getting into a kneeling position on an exercise mat.
- Place the foot of your right leg out in front of you so that the leg is bent to a 90 degree angle. This is the starting position.
- From here, lean your body forwards so that your right knee passes over your right foot.
- You should feel a gentle stretch down your left hip flexor muscles.
- Hold this position for 30 seconds and then repeat 3 times before switching to work the opposite leg.
Standing Hamstring Stretch
The standing hamstring stretch can potentially help alleviate SI joint pain by promoting flexibility and relieving tension in the muscles of the lower back, hips, and legs.
Whilst it’s important to primarily focus on the injured side, it’s always a good idea to work both sides to promote better flexibility and mobility.
How To Perform The Standing Hamstring Stretch:
- Begin by standing upright with your hands on your hips.
- Place one foot just in front of you and rest it on the heel.
- Slowly, hinge at the hips lowering your upper body as you go.
- You should feel a stretch down the back of your extended leg.
- Maintain this position for 15-30 seconds and repeat 3 times. Switch to work the other leg.
The supine march is a great way of improving hip flexibility and mobility, which can contribute to better pelvic alignment and reduced strain on the sacroiliac joints.
The exercise engages your hip and core muscles along with your abdominal muscles, all of which help to stabilize your pelvis.
How To Do The Supine March:
- Start by lying down on your back with your legs extended. Place your arms on your chest or down by your sides.
- From here, raise one knee up and bring it towards your chest.
- Keep your toes pointing towards the ceiling and stop when your thigh is perpendicular to the floor.
- Lower your leg back down and alternate between legs.
- Complete 3 sets of 8 to 10 repetitions on each side.
Double Knee-To-Chest Stretch
The double knee-to-chest stretch is a low-impact exercise to stretch out your buttock muscles and all the muscles and ligaments to your lower back and pelvis.
It can also improve flexibility and mobility to your hip and lower back regions, which can contribute to better pelvic alignment and reduced stress on the sacroiliac joints.
How To Do The Double Knee To Chest Stretch:
- Start off by lying on your back with bent knees and your arms down by your sides.
- Now bring both knees up and towards your chest.
- Use both hands and hold your knees pulling your knees even closer to your chest without using excessive force.
- Hold the position for 30 seconds and repeat for a total of 3 times.
Child’s pose is one of the more popular yoga poses and is a great way of stretching out your lower back, hips and glutes.
It helps to promote relaxation, elongation of your spine, and gentle traction of the sacroiliac joints.
How To Perform The Child’s Pose:
- Begin by getting on to your hands and knees in a tabletop position.
- Place your big toes together but position your knees as wide as is comfortable.
- From here, sink your hips back and down towards your heels.
- Simultaneously, lower your head and chest towards the floor and reach your arms out in front of you.
- Gently rest your forehead on the ground.
- Breathe normally and with each exhale try and allow your muscles to relax even more into the ground.
In a nutshell, incorporating SI joint pain exercises into your routine can be a game-changer in helping you manage discomfort and improving overall well-being.
By targeting specific muscle groups, enhancing flexibility, and bolstering stability around the sacroiliac joints, you’re setting the stage for a more pain-free and active lifestyle.
Remember, though, before committing to any new exercises seek some advice from your doctor to make sure that you perform them correctly to reduce any chance of injury.