The sacroiliac joint is a key part of the body’s support system and is responsible for transferring weight from the upper body to the lower body. Unfortunately, this joint can be susceptible to injury, particularly if you have an active lifestyle or participate in sports. However, there are exercises you can do to help keep your SI joint healthy and prevent injuries. In this blog post, we’ll discuss some of those exercises and how they can help you stay safe and pain-free. Thanks for reading!
SI Joint? What is it?
The sacroiliac joint is a tricky area to identify. The SI stands for Sacrum-Ileum (adj. -sacroiliac), and it’s the connection between those two pieces of anatomy that make up your lower back. Sacroiliac joints are made up of the sacrum and ileum. These two bones join together to form a stable undertaking that allows for proper alignment in your spine. Think of the sacroiliac joint as a hinge for your spine; it is the pivotal joint connecting the upper body to the lower body.
Orthopedic textbooks will often explain to students how SI joints don’t really cause any discomfort or harm because it’s “not a joint” or it doesn’t move as much. It moves only about 5%. But joints are important because they help the body move and they also take in stress. This stress helps to spread the load around to other parts of the body. In other words, joints such as the SI joint absorbs kinetic energy going through the body, and then it releases it in a different direction.
If you ever watch somebody walk or run, you will see how they move. It’s more of a controlled fall than a graceful motion. This is because the body is absorbing all of the kinetic energy into stored energy in the sacroiliac joint, knees, and hips, and then releasing that every time another step is taken. That’s why it doesn’t take as much energy to maintain movement as it does to create movement.
The SI joint is a little bit dynamic and it gets injured. It’s quite a common cause of low back and pelvic pain.
There are ways you can try to create greater stiffness or control of motion at the pelvis. One is by getting the gluteus maximus (the booty muscles) a boost. This is going to be the most important thing you can do a lot about it. Otherwise, if you can’t make your glutes stiffer than you need to, you might need to go to Wellward. But we’re trying to help you so you don’t have to go.
Muscles. Earn it. Don’t buy it. Earn it. This is a concept in which we’re just trying to create some activity in your gluteus maximus. Some big precursors to this:
- If you are trying to build this muscle for aesthetics to try to help yourself out. Or,
- If you’re trying to prevent pain at the SI joint.
Doing this even helps out with your knees and lower back. The glutes are the best muscles you can improve to try to help your body be more athletic and not be in pain. You will need to do one of these exercises in a challenging way for a full set to stimulate these muscles.
You need to be able to do about a minimum of 10 of the stimulating sets in a week. It doesn’t have to be in a day. You just do a couple sets every day, making sure it all adds up. You need to make a big change to this muscle.
Once you get the hang of it at home and feel the gluteal muscles working, you need to then plan it so you do it a certain number of times in the week.
When you’re doing a glute bridge exercise, you need to lie on your back. Position your knees to be in the air and your feet flat on the ground. When doing this exercise, many people will just lift up their bodies. You’ll notice if you were strong on your back but not so strong on your glutes, your body will naturally use the strongest muscle around to get the job done. This means, you’re more likely to feel your lower back doing the work, which can increase the discomfort during the exercise.
- Start by squeezing your glutes really tightly.
- Hold it for about 10 to 30 seconds.
- Then after starting to feel the cramping of your buttocks, lift yourself up by that cramping buttocks.
- Hold this for five seconds and lower yourself down.
Now, what happens often is if people are not efficient at using their glutes, I guarantee one of the hamstring muscles will cramp up. But you’re not going to damage anything. Counter the cramp by stretching your leg out, moving it around a little bit, shaking it a little bit, and trying again. You’re reteaching your body how to do something, and it’s just showing you that you’re stronger in your thighs than you are on your butt. Retrain your body.
I recommend doing this exercise for 20 repetitions for a five-second hold.
An Exercise called “Good Morning”
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your hands placed behind your head. Your feet should be tight to the floor. Your shins will remain vertical.
- Stand upright, brace your core, and pull your shoulders back.
- Take a breath and hinge forward from your hips, not your waist, allowing a slight bend in your knees but keeping your back flat.
- Lean forward until you feel a slight stretch in your hamstrings (but don’t go beyond horizontal), then, as you exhale, reverse the move to stand up straight.
This seems pretty simple, but most people, when they do this, they’re using their backs and their legs too much. So if you have a jump rope, rubber band, or a large belt, this can help, especially when you’re just learning how to do it.
- Put the rope around the belt line with the ends tied to somewhere strong or have someone hold it for you.
- Let the rope pull you and go with it, letting your hips drive back to take the pressure off.
- Hold this position for a second and squeeze your glutes, pulling yourself forward.
- Put your attention on squeezing the glutes.
When you get the pelvis moving forward, as you start to bend forward, you’re going to feel your buttocks doing the work. A lot of people have problems when they do this exercise. They start to feel their lower back doing the work if they’re not doing it correctly.
Do this for 10 repetitions with a 5-second hold at the glutes. Make sure when you come up, you don’t feel this exhausting your back, but you want to feel your legs and hips doing the work.
Work those thighs
The inner thigh is a challenging area to work out as you fight against soccer sports and do not want any groin sprains. The muscle attaches all the way down to your sacral joint or SI region, which can lead to some pain when performing certain exercises.
Start with an easy version
- Position yourself inclined on the floor while one knee rests on top of a bench. This is going to stop you from having any extra strain on your knee joint.
- The top arm should be in a side plank position, supporting your upper body. When you’re in this position, make sure your ear and shoulder are away from each other. This will help protect your shoulder and rotator cuff.
- While keeping the bottom knee on the ground, bring your hips up into the air and hold this for 10 seconds for the very first time.
- Then slowly come back down.
The advanced version
- In the same position, take your bottom leg off of the ground after you raise your hips.
- Take the bottom leg up and down, stretching the hamstring muscles.
- Then come back on down.
Now, once this starts to get easy, what you do next is:
- Scoot out away from the bench and do the same routine, but this time, you have a longer lever arm. This is going to increase torque on the SI joint and hip.
- Squeeze the glutes, moving the hips forward.
- Hold your leg there like a plank for your thigh muscles.
- Then, come down.
To make it even harder, you can come back up, taking the bottom leg as you bring it up to the other top ankle and back down again. Moving the bottom leg up and down, holding your torso nice and tight like a plank for about 10 repetitions.
Those are the best SI exercises that’ll help you prevent injury. You can definitely build up each of these with some strength over time. And you need to, because if you’re not challenging your body, then your body has no reason to change and be better.
Whether you want to add some extra roundness and tightness back to your glutes or keep the SI joint healthy, these exercises can help.
Prevention is key when it comes to SI joint injuries, and we hope our exercises have given you a good starting point for protecting your sacroiliac joint. If you are experiencing any pain in that area, please be sure to consult with a medical professional. However, if you’re feeling up to it and want to continue strengthening those muscles on your own, we suggest adding these exercises into your routine and gradually working them up to more challenging variations. Remember, always listen to your body and stop if anything feels uncomfortable. And as always, if you have any questions or need help getting started, don’t hesitate to reach out!
We’re here for every pain-wearying moment. We’ll answer all your questions about aches and pains and what best treatments work for your unique needs. We’d be happy to schedule a discovery call with you. During this call, we can discuss your symptoms in more detail and come up with a plan tailored specifically for you.
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The information in this email is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. All content is for general informational purposes only and does not replace a consultation with your own doctor/health professional