Living with sacroiliitis (SI) can be painful and frustrating. It’s a discomforting condition that happens when the joint located in your lower back (right where your pelvis connects with your spine) gets inflamed. If it hits you, you might feel pain in your buttocks and lower back, possibly extending down your leg. It could get worse after long periods of sitting, standing or climbing stairs. The pain you feel may range from moderate to severe–at any level, it isn’t something anyone wishes to endure, and it’s something orthopedic specialists encounter all too often.
What causes sacroiliitis?
The sacroiliac joint is annoyingly prone to irritation over the course of time, thanks to age, physical activity, and disease. It can strike due to a large number of causes, including:
- Automobile accident, serious fall or other physical trauma
- Repetitive stress
- Urinary tract infection
- Crohn’s disease
SI tends to impact older adults more frequently but it can occur at nearly any age. The condition tends to impact women more frequently than men, and it can increase in female patients during or after intercourse, and during menstruation. And, while it can affect athletes and physically active people, it also can affect patients who live a relatively sedentary lifestyle.
Physical exercises for SI joint pain
If you’re one of the many unfortunate people suffering from sacroiliitis, we have some good news. There are a number of exercises for sacroiliac pain that can help alleviate the pain and discomfort causing your frustration. Try some of these SI pain exercises to try and achieve relief. Please keep in mind that if any exercises make your SI pain worse or cause new discomfort, you should stop immediately and consult a doctor.
Get down on the floor and lie on your back, with your buttocks close to a doorway. Then, extend your unhurt leg in front of you on the floor, through the doorway. Lift your injured leg and place it against the wall next to the doorframe, keeping your leg as straight as you can. While you’re doing this, you should feel a stretching sensation in the back of your thigh. Hold the position for 15-30 seconds; repeat three times.
Hip adductor stretch
Lie down on your back, bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor. Spread your knees apart carefully to stretch your inner-thigh muscles. Hold for 15-30 seconds; repeat three times.
Lie down on your stomach, legs straight out behind you. Squeeze your buttock muscles together and hold for five seconds, then relax for another 5 seconds. Do two sets of 15.
Lower trunk rotation
Lie down on your back, knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Then, tighten your stomach and push your lower back into the floor. While keeping your shoulders down flat, gently rotate your legs to one side as far as you can, then do this to the other side. Repeat 10 to 20 times.
One knee to chest stretch
Lie on your back, legs straight out in front. Bring one knee up to your chest and grasp the back of your thigh. Then, pull the knee toward your chest to stretch your buttock muscle. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds, then return to your original position. Repeat three times on each side.
Both knees to chest stretch
Lie down on your back, knees bent and feet flat. Tighten up your stomach muscles and push your lower back into the floor. Next, pull both knees to your chest and hold for five seconds, then relax for five seconds. Repeat this 10 to 20 times.
Back bridge stretch
Lie on your back, knees bent, arms against the body and palms against the floor. Squeeze your buttocks and raise your hips off the ground to bring your body into a straight line. Hold for five seconds, then slowly lower yourself to the ground again. Repeat eight-10 times.
Isometric hip adductor stretch
Sit on the floor, knees bent 90 degrees with a pillow placed between them and feet flat on the floor. Squeeze the pillow gently with your knees for five seconds, then relax for five seconds. Perform two sets of 15 repetitions.
Plant your feet an arm’s length away from the wall, with your injured side placed farther from the wall. Face forward, keeping yourself steady by putting one hand against the wall. Take your other hand, grab your injured-side ankle, pulling your heel toward your rear end. Keep your knees together, and be careful not to arch or twist your back, to prevent causing additional injury, and grasp the ankle on your injured side and pull your heel toward your buttocks. Hold for 15-30 seconds.
Yoga exercises for SI pain
Many yoga poses offer helpful stretching for SI joint pain relief. They can help strengthen the sacroiliac joint to reduce discomfort, and even prevent future problems. However, it is important to execute the poses correctly, and not overdo them. If not done right, these movements could end up doing more harm than good. If you’re in doubt, check with a local yoga instructor or studio for tips–and as always, it’s wise to speak with an orthopedic physical therapist.
Lie on your stomach, legs stretched back with the tops of your feet on the floor. Spread your hands on the floor under your shoulders, elbows tucked into your body. Pressing your feet, thighs, and pubic bone into the floor, lift your upper body off the floor. Hold for five seconds, then lower your body back down.
Lie on your stomach with your arms along your sides (palms up), forehead resting on the ground and your big toes toward each other to help rotate your thighs inward. Lift your head, upper body, arms, and legs away from the floor–this will leave your lower ribs, stomach, and front of your pelvis resting on the floor. Lift your arms parallel to the floor and gently stretch your back, and look up slightly. Hold for 15-30 seconds, then release.
Lie down on your stomach, arms along your body, hands palms up. Bend your knees and bring your heels as close to your buttocks as you can. Reach back and grab your ankles, making sure your knees aren’t spread wider than your heels. Lift your feet and upper body, being careful not to tense your back muscles. Hold the pose for 15-30 seconds, then relax.
Other SI joint pain relief exercises
Aquatic activity generally is easy on your body’s joints–however, some swimming strokes can actually stress the sacrum, so a gentler water workout might be better. Aquafit and other water aerobics programs take place in the shallow end of the pool. An instructor guides you through a set of exercises designed to strengthen muscles without putting a great deal of stress on your joints.
Strolling at an easy pace can help ease various types of joint and back pain. It’s important that you don’t overdo it, though. Put on a pair of comfortable, supported, low-heeled shoes and start slow, with a trip of about 20 minutes or so. If you don’t notice any pain, feel free to speed up the pace and/or add time to your trip.
A short bike ride can be a great exercise for SI joint pain. It can increase blood flow to the affected area without putting too much stress on the SI joint. Don’t overdo it, though–an overly lengthy ride can hurt, rather than help.
Sacroiliac joint pain exercises to avoid
Some sports and movements can aggravate sacroiliac joint pain. If you suffer from sacroiliitis, try to minimize or stay away from these activities:
- Abdominal crunches
- Biking for extended periods
In general, any physical activity that requires you to twist and turn at the hips, engage in physical contact, or lift heavy weights or objects is something you should avoid to help heal your sacrum.
Medical treatment for SI pain
Changing your routine and adding exercises for sacrum pain can help ease the discomfort. Consulting the specialists at Romano Orthopaedic Center can connect you with treatments and activities that best fit your specific needs. These might include:
- Stretching and strengthening program tailored to your case
- Physical therapy
- Si joint injections
Contact us for advice and treatment options.