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SI Joint Pain: Causes, Treatments, and Exercises

Published April 01, 2019 (Revised: July 09, 2019)
<article> <section> <p>We’ve tackled the bigger muscle groups in our body—the hips, <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">core</a>, <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">glutes</a>, <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">hamstrings</a>, and <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">lower back</a>. If we had to sum up what we learned in those articles, it’s that everything is connected. If your hamstrings are too long or stiff, your lower back suffers. If your glutes are asleep, your hips get tight and painful. It’s so important for us to keep our muscles and ligaments strong and mobile.</p> <p>Here we’ll talk about a joint at the center of all the action: the sacroiliac, or SI joint. Much like our muscles—and because of its location—SI joint dysfunction can lead to tightness, pain, and weakness in other muscles and joints throughout the body. And it can make exercising more challenging or uncomfortable, too.</p> <p>In this article, we’ll look at what causes SI joint pain, the best forms of treatment (short-term and long-term). We’ll even include the two best exercises you can do to improve sacroiliac joint dysfunction or pain.</p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset=""> <img src="" class="img-fluid" alt="pelvic-bone-diagram"> </picture> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>What Is The Sacroiliac Joint (SI Joint)?</header> <p>Located in the pelvis, your sacroiliac joint (SI joint) is where the sacrum and ilium meet. The SI joint is near the bottom of your spine and connected by many ligaments. It supports your bodyweight and helps to distribute and absorb weight through the hip joint when you move. The SI joint is important because it helps reduce pressure on your spine <sup>1</sup>.</p> <p>Unfortunately SI joint pain is fairly common. The current estimate is that up to 25 percent of lower back related pain comes from misalignment or issues in the sacroiliac joint<sup>2</sup>.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>What Causes SI Joint Pain?</header> <p>Because your hips and lower back claim center locations in your body, SI joint pain can be the result of several things. Osteoarthritis, prolonged sitting, injury, pregnancy, and even how you walk can cause pain in the sacroiliac joint.</p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset=""> <img src="" class="img-fluid" alt="on-computer-with-phone-wooden-table"> </picture> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>What Does SI joint Pain Feel Like?</header> <p>Pain in the sacroiliac joint might cause pain in the lower back, glutes, hips, or groin. Depending on the issue—injury or some type of joint dysfunction—it might be worse or better depending on if you are sitting or standing.</p> <p>You might also feel pain, weakness, or numbness in your thighs and upper legs with SI joint dysfunction<sup>3</sup>.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>How Do You Treat SI Joint Pain?</header> <p>Here are some popular forms of treatment to alleviate SI joint pain or dysfunction.</p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset=""> <img src="" class="img-fluid" alt="massage-being-given"> </picture> <div class="sub-head">1. Massage</div> <p>You might experience relief with some simple massage on <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">the glutes</a>. Particularly the gluteus maximus, gluteus minor, <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">lower back</a> muscles, and surrounding ligaments. These muscles connect directly to your sacroiliac joint, so loosening them up can help reduce pain. </p> <p>If your muscles are tight or weak, <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">glute activation drills</a> might also ease tension (more about why later on).</p> <div class="sub-head">2. Spine Elongation (Stretch Your Spine)</div> <p>Sitting for a long time is bad for <i>several</i> reasons, but the biggest problem is that sitting causes your vertebrae to compress and stiffen. This is why SI joint pain—located at the base of your spine—or dysfunction is common for people that work a desk job or spend a lot of time sitting. </p> <div class="row justify-content-center text-center"> <div class="col-12 col-md-5"> <video class="d-block mx-auto" autoplay="" loop="" muted=""> <source src="" type="video/webm"> <source src="" type="video/mp4"> </video> </div> </div> <p>To elongate or lengthen your spine, one simple technique is to do a “dead hang” from a pull-up bar. Don’t try to pull yourself over the bar; simply hang from it and let gravity do the rest. Think about letting your pelvis drop to the ground as you hang. You’ll feel the muscles, ligaments and tendons in your shoulders, arms, and lower back stretch out. </p> <p>If you can’t hang from a pull-up bar or don’t have one, an alternative is to do child’s pose. The bottom of a bear squat (as seen above by Coach Tyler) is roughly what you’re going for.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>But, Keep This In Mind About SI Joint Pain Relief</header> <p>Massages and dead hanging from pull-up bars are band-aids for reducing SI joint pain. They might work in the short-term and reduce your symptoms or tightness, but won’t make it go away forever.</p> <p>The truth is, your sacroiliac joint dysfunction or pain is likely due to the fact that your lumbar muscles and ligaments are weak and unstable.</p> <div class="sub-head">So, What Treatment Is Best For Sacroiliac Joint (SI Joint) Pain?</div> <p>Long-term, your best bet for reducing or eliminating joint pain is to strengthen and mobilize the muscles and ligaments around your SI joint.</p> <p>Strong, active glutes, a <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">strong lower back</a> and abs, and mobile hips and <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">hamstrings</a> will all stabilize the muscles and ligaments in and around the SI joint. Leading to a reduction or even elimination of pain—<i>forever</i>.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>The SI Joint and Posture</header> <p>Good posture is so important when it comes to our hips and <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">lower back health</a>. Sitting and slouching for long periods of time can damage your spine, compromise hamstring and glute strength, and lead to pain in other joints.</p> <p>Take Warrior Made’s <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">core quiz</a> to help you determine the core exercises you should be doing to fix your posture and reduce SI joint pain.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>Best Exercises for SI Joint Point</header> <p>Before you check out these exercises for sacroiliac joint pain, here’s what you should know.</p> <p>We handpicked these exercises not only to make you stronger, but to teach you how to use muscles that are “sleeping” for most people. Elevators and oysters aren’t meant for building six-packs—but they’ll teach you how to engage the right muscles so you can safely do exercises that will.</p> <div class="sub-head">1. Elevators</div> <p>Begin by laying on your back with both index fingers on your lower abs. Point them at your belly. Take a breath in, then consciously force your lower ab muscles to engage and rise. Your fingers will move up too, like they’re on an elevator.</p> <p>The goal of this exercise is to create pressure in your abs and lower back. This helps activate the muscles that might be weak or tight from too much sitting.</p> <p><strong>Ab Workout Challenge</strong>: Do ten elevators during every commercial break tonight while you watch TV. Expect to be a little sore in your abs tomorrow.</p> <div class="sub-head">2. Oysters</div> <p>Oysters build off elevators, the goal once more being to create pressure in the abs and lower back at the beginning. This time you’ll bring your arms above your head and knees up towards your chest. Keep pressure the whole time. </p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset=""> <img src="" class="img-fluid" alt="tyler-oysters"> </picture> <p>Reach up so that your low spine stays on the ground but your shoulders and pelvis lift off the floor. Keep your shoulders relaxed and not “hunched” up by your ears (seen below). Reach through your legs and hold for about five seconds. Release and return to the floor.</p> <picture class="lazy-load"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/webp"> <source data-srcset="" type="image/jpf"> <source data-srcset=""> <img src="" class="img-fluid" alt="tyler-oysters"> </picture> <p><strong>Ab Workout Challenge</strong>: Do ten oysters (holding for five seconds). Try to do three sets and take about a minute break in between.</p> </section> <hr class="divider-50 divider-medium mx-auto"> <section> <header>SI Joint Pain—Wrapping Up</header> <p>Located in the pelvis—and at center of all action—your SI joint distributes weight through your hips. Absorbing shock on the spine to keep you injury-free. Other than osteoarthritis or pregnancy, prolonged sitting and injury are the most common cause of sacroiliac joint pain. </p> <p>Massage and stretching can help in the short-term. Your best bet long-term is to maintain good posture, then strengthen and mobilize the big muscles and ligaments at the center of your body. Strong glutes, hips, abs, lower back, and hamstrings will help reduce pressure causing SI joint dysfunction or pain.</p> <p>Take <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">Warrior Made</a>’s <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">core quiz</a> to determine the core exercises you should be doing. Then head over to our <a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">exercise section</a> for simple, but effective at-home workouts and exercise guides you can start doing right now.</p> <div class="sub-head">Resources</div> <ol> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">Is Your SI Joint Causing Your Lower Back Pain?</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">Low Back Pain’s Missing Link: Diagnosing the Sacroiliac Joint</a></li> <li><a target="_blank" href="" rel="noreferrer">Therapy Options for Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction</a></li> </ol> </section> </article>

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