The sacroiliac (SI) joint, located at the base of the spine, can often be a source of pain and discomfort. Strengthening the muscles that connect to the sacrum and hip bones, including those in the groin, thighs, abdomen, and lower back, can help decrease pain, improve mobility, and restore function in the SI joints. As such we've rounded up a few of the best exercises for sacroiliac pain relief. This isn't always going to solve the problem, but like is so often the case with joints, we don't do enough to stregnthen them, so there is a good chance that doing these exercises regularly will help.
Note: It is important to start slowly and listen to your body, easing off the exercises if you experience any pain. Consult with your healthcare provider or a physical therapist before starting any exercise program to ensure it is appropriate for your specific condition.
The knee-to-chest stretch is a gentle exercise that helps stretch the muscles in the lower back and buttocks. Here's how to perform it:
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. You can place a small pillow under your head and neck for comfort.
- Grasp your hands under one knee and bring the knee to your chest, keeping the other foot flat on the floor.
- Keep your lower back pressed to the floor and hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds.
- Relax and lower the knee to the starting position. Repeat with the other leg.
- Aim to repeat this exercise 2 to 4 times with each leg.
To increase the stretch, you can keep the opposite leg flat on the floor while pulling the knee to your chest.
Bridging is an exercise that targets the gluteal muscles and helps improve hip stability. Follow these steps to perform the bridging exercise:
- Lie on your back with both knees bent at a 90-degree angle.
- Tighten your belly muscles by pulling in your belly button toward your spine.
- Push your feet into the floor, squeeze your buttocks, and lift your hips off the floor until your shoulders, hips, and knees are all in a straight line.
- Hold this position for about 6 seconds, breathing normally.
- Slowly lower your hips back down to the floor and rest for up to 10 seconds.
- Repeat the exercise 8 to 12 times.
Hip extension exercises target the gluteal muscles and help improve hip strength and stability. Here's how to perform hip extension:
- Get down on your hands and knees on the floor, keeping your back and neck straight.
- Lift one leg straight out behind you, keeping your hips level and avoiding any twisting or dropping of the hip.
- Hold the extended position for 6 seconds, then lower the leg back down.
- Repeat this exercise 8 to 12 times with each leg.
For an added challenge, you can also lift the opposite arm straight out in front of you while lifting the leg. This is known as the "bird dog exercise."
The clamshell exercise targets the muscles in the hips and buttocks. Follow these steps to perform the clamshell exercise:
- Lie on your side with a pillow under your head for support.
- Keep your feet and knees together, with your knees bent.
- Raise your top knee while keeping your feet together, opening up your legs like a clamshell.
- Hold the position for 6 seconds, then slowly lower your knee back down.
- Rest for 10 seconds, then repeat the exercise 8 to 12 times.
- Switch to your other side and repeat the steps.
Hamstring Wall Stretch
The hamstring wall stretch is a great exercise for stretching the muscles in the back of the thigh. Here's how to perform it:
- Lie on your back in a doorway, with one leg through the open door.
- Slide your affected leg up the wall to straighten your knee, feeling a gentle stretch down the back of your leg.
- Hold the stretch for at least 1 minute, gradually increasing the duration to up to 6 minutes.
- Switch legs and repeat the steps.
- If you don't have a doorway to use, you can also perform this stretch by using a towel looped under the ball and toes of your foot while lying on your back.
Lower Abdominal Strengthening
Strengthening the lower abdominal muscles can provide support and stability for the sacroiliac joints. Follow these steps to perform lower abdominal strengthening exercises:
- Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
- Tighten your belly muscles by pulling your belly button in towards your spine.
- Lift one foot off the floor and bring your knee towards your chest, creating a 90-degree angle with your leg.
- Lift the other knee to the same position.
- Lower one leg at a time back to the starting position.
- Alternate lifting each leg 8 to 12 times, while keeping your belly muscles tight and your back still.
The piriformis stretch targets the piriformis muscle, which can contribute to sacroiliac joint pain when tight. Here's how to perform this stretch:
- Lie on your back with your legs straight.
- Lift your affected leg and bend your knee.
- Reach across your body with your opposite hand and gently pull your knee towards your opposite shoulder.
- Hold the stretch for 15 to 30 seconds.
- Switch legs and repeat the steps.
- Repeat the stretch 2 to 4 times.
Remember to start slowly and listen to your body, adjusting the intensity as needed when doing any exercise to stregnthen joints.
Can Stetching Help With Sacroiliac Pain Relief
Remember that whilst stretching and exercise can help with sacroiliac joint pain, it's not necessarily going to be enough to deal with recurrant pain by itself. There are always supplements, topical creams and other solutions that you can use to help manage pain. However, like many things when it comes to pain relief, it's quite often a good idea to see a doctor if it's a recurring issue.