On Wednesday, I wrote about my initial sacroiliac joint injury and the general mechanisms for common issues with SI joint issues. After my injury, the next step was to seek out a manual therapist who released the tissues surrounding my right hip along with a gentle adjustment of the SI joint and pubic bone. This was painless.

Immediately after, I was standing with equal weight in both my legs, my belly button more centered, and the creak in my neck disappeared quickly thereafter. I still had plenty of issues in my tissues, including unyielding adductors, QLs and piriformis that were just working too hard, all the time, but this was a huge step forward.

Nowadays, I maintain a regular routine with my Yoga Tune Up® Therapy balls to decongest my tissues. I especially love using the Alpha Ball to take a tour of my pelvis. Check out this great Yoga Tune Up® self-massage video for a wonderful release for your piriformis and all of the muscles that run from your sacrum to femur. While Jill demonstrates in the video with the YTU Therapy Balls, feel free to experiment with any size of Roll Model Therapy Ball. 

While therapy balls help, releasing the tissues is only part of the solution. After you seek professional help from a Sports Medicine PT or Osteopath, it’s a good idea to follow a stability program that should become part of your lifestyle so that you don’t find yourself on your therapist’s table any time soon. Here are my three favourite sacroiliac joint exercises to strengthen your core and stabilize the SIJ for the long haul.

Do them regularly, completing as many repetitions as you can while maintaining good form, and you will find the stability and strength that will hug your sacroiliac joints in place and help prevent back pain.

 

Bridge Lifts

This pose is a bang for your buck. You will strengthen your legs, pelvic floor, gluteal muscles and core muscles, all of which are key to stabilizing your pelvis and spine. In addition, this can also open up the front body, including the psoas.

Shalabhasana Mini Vini

I like to think of this minivini as reverse bridge lift, the only difference being that you are on your belly. This upper back strengthening pose requires the core muscles to switch on to stabilize the pelvis and spine. It asks that you move from your thoracic spine without compressing the lumbar spine, much like in Bridge Lifts.

Lower Back Strengthening QuickFix for Back Pain Relief

Strengthen your entire torso, especially your transverse abdominus, internal obliques and quadratus lumborum on the side that is shortening. On the other side, you will traction those muscles away from the pelvis, creating more space for you to move with ease.

 

Whether or not you’ve experienced an SIJ injury, it is important for joint health to maintain mobility and stability in all ranges of movement, not just the ones you do continually on a daily basis. Give these exercises a try and let me know what you think!

 

Enjoyed this article? Read Finding Center by Mastering the Midline

Emilie Mikulla

Having contracted a major case of wanderlust, Emilie has traveled the world, working as journalist, and now lives Dubai. After a second surgery on her spine, Emilie followed a lengthy Pilates rehabilitation program and, amazed by the results in her own body, became a comprehensively trained Pilates instructor in 2008. Emilie has taught in Thailand, South Africa, Dubai and in San Francisco. Emilie is an E-RYT and has completed her trainings with YogaWorks and Yoga Tree San Francisco, before earning her Yoga Tune Up® certification from Jill Miller. She has also spent hundreds of hours assisting her mentor Harvey Deutch PT at RedHawk Physical Therapy clinic in San Francisco, in teacher trainings, and on retreats at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur. She has also recently participated in a week-long cadaver dissection workshop with Gil Hedley of Integral Anatomy. Emilie is the Lifestyle Editor for Women's Health & Fitness Middle East where she contributes a variety of articles and columns ranging from fitness and wellness, inspirational stories and nutrition. Blending dynamic movement with therapeutic releases, Emilie’s classes will empower you to practice the activities you love with awareness and joy.

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Linda

Love , love , love all of these poses and how they help the body reduce pain. I just recently started doing sidewinder and it is really helping reduce the pain in my lower back. I will start doing all 3 of the poses and see how that affects my lower back and sacrum issues.
Thank you for sharing such great information.
Linda

Ting

The ones with the blanket is interesting and new to me. Always have lower back issue especially a week before my “time of the month” visits.

Ernie

Love them all especially the ones with the blanket. They are tough! Been integrating them into my practice. They have helped strengthen my back and core to help support my SIJ and along with rolling, I feel I am finally on the right track. Perhaps next step is to work with a therapist.

Anja

Great article! At this point, I believe that some SI joint issues might have to do with too much flexibility there and not enough stability. These poses and movements would strengthen and stabilize – I will give them a try!

MichelleW

I love this! All of these are amazing compliments to a practice and I’m truly excited to bring them into my classes. I think it also incorporates a clever use of the blanket. Individually, these are wonderful. And together a really effective way to build strength and stability for the long term. Thank you!

Kim

Excellent reminder that it’s not always about releasing the tight muscles. Strength and stability around our joints keep us moving in a safe and pain free manner.

Ted Burnham

After going through almost a year of PT for lower back and hip pain I took the YTU teacher training and immediately got incredible results. Now I am focused on stabilizing the lower back using the Yoga Tune Up® poses along with Jill’s piriformis self-massage video. Thanks for brining all this into one context and into my awareness.

Nina

Thanks Emilie for the great article. As an ex dancer, golfer and yogi, I know all about SI joint problems and I have learnt over the years that it is a combination of strength and flexibility. On the side that is hypermobile I tend to strengthen more and on the side that is hypomobile I will stretch more.

Barbara

I suppose it’s important to point out that these exercises and poses build stability, not mobility. The SI is not asked to rotate or move, and that’s a good thing. The mobility is improved in the adjacent structures and through greater articulation of the spine and hip flexors. Thanks for the examples of bridge and locust to build great glutes and more support for the SI.

Kathryn

I love that you incorporate a stability program for after discharge from a medical professional. The poses and suggestions are great for keeping your hips and low back mobile and stable – I’m thinking I need to implement a lot of this into my own life!

Ian Armstrong

Good post. I have been learning about these poses in the level 1 cert and plan to incorporate them in my weekly routine. I am especially thankful for the sidewinder. I feel that when it comes to “core work”, it is so common to just think about the abdominal muscles, and completely leave the QL, erecetors and multifidi out of the picture. Thank you!

Ted Burnham

I have just become a big fan of the Bridge Lifts with the Uddiyana Bandha because of my limited flexibility in the lower back. I hope this will improve that as well as strengthen my core and relieve the tightness in my gluteal muscles and lower back. I plan on adding this to the Sidewinder and Boomerang as part of my lower back recovery routine. Thanks for the information.

Kendra

I love how you tied together the importance of a professional assessment, self-management program to take accountability and control over your own body, as well as the importance of a stability program after the injury. Prevention of injuries reoccurring is such an important part of the puzzle of staying healthy and pain free. Thanks for reiterating this!

Clayton

Thank you for this post. Before, I never realized that the gluteus maximus attached directly to the SI joint. This makes perfect sense; in the past, I’ve had SI joint issues – however, after working on isolating and strengthening my glutes, I’ve noticed the frequency of SI issues decrease tremendously.

laura

Great combination of movements. Simple, easy to follow and so applicable. I’ve never thought about bridge lengthening the psoas, yet, of course! I guess because bridge is known as a “backbend”, most emphasis is on the back, and the psoas is a muscle of the back, yet also runs into the hips and is so often shortened in desk sitters and vehicle drivers. Thanks for this view point!

Kelly

Important reminder that strengthening is required in addition to releasing the tissues

Tammy Gruber

This article was so helpful! I too have an SI joint issue. Being that I was born with a significant leg length discrepancy I wore braces on my little toddler legs and needless to say didn’t care for them too much. I abused my body as a gymnast and then decided to tackle the fitness industry . That all caught up to me in my early 20s and I ended up at an orthopedist office with 2 herniated discs. I chose to explore other means of healing rather than surgery which led me to a chiropractor who did tissue manipulation… Read more »

Ashley

Great resource! Thanks for posting. This is a great series to add to the SIJ toolbox. I’m bookmarking to send to any future students with SIJ issues. As someone who has struggled with SI pain in the past, I can vouch that stabilizing exercises like this are the key to relief! Also, I had to come to the epiphany that getting into deep hip openers in my yoga practice was really not going to change my life in any way for the better. Looking back, I have no idea why I was so desperate to get my head behind my… Read more »

Ilene Pellecchia

Thank you for this article. So often students complain about lower back pain and think it is a disc issue and later come to find it’s SI joint instability. I will keep all three poses in my SI jpint back pocket and pull out for great suggestions and my own work at home.

robin white

Thank you for posting this. I will bring it to my practice on days when I have a tight lower back, and if teaching, to a class. I think I set myself up for an SI injury a year ago, by sitting too much at work, and then going straight from my desk to an exercise class. I managed to get injured (the free cross-training program was part of a workplace wellness program), but was lucky to have been working in an environment where I could shut the door, lie on the floor and do some of this work (the… Read more »

Marie-Pierre Gauthier

Merci pour les quick fix.
Je vais les appliquer à la lettre quelques fois par semaine pour stabiliser mon bassin. Ces exercices réduiront sans aucun doute la douleur à l’extérieur de mon genou gauche (bandelette)… causé par trop de travail du Tensor fasciae latae.

Susannah Nelson

Great post in dealing with Cranky SI joints, on the need for balance between stability & strength, across the whole Lumbar Pelvic region and using Yoga Tune Up® practices to find your blind spots and decongest the issues in your tissues.. I love my Alpha Ball and doing sidewinder,

Dianne

Thanks for sharing the details of your approach to healing your SIJ issues. As others have stated, I too love doing Sidewinder and find it really helps! My P.T. suggested a bridge variation that I find helpful as well – position the legs in reclined bound angle and then do bridge lifts. I’m still rolling and discovering which are my blind spots of tightness and know I am on a path to long term health of this joint.

Therese

Thanks so much for the great post of the Bridge Lifts. Often in my classes students are just not aware of how to engage their gluteals and pelvic floor to raise their hips in a more balanced position. This video certainly helps to understand how breath and movement makes it all work. Much appreciated!

Jennifer Strumfeld

Great suggestions for SI pain. I recently completed the YTUTT and I pretty much have come to the conclusion that I really need to get a lot of the deep back muscles on board with my practice. I love sidewinder and revolved abdominals and of course, bridge lifts with uddiyana. I think I put some time into shalambhasana minivini – love this type of back bending work – subtle and slow and imperative to building strength and stability in the spine. Thanks for your SIJ expertise and look forward to some upcoming self-study.

Andrea

Tight adductors, QLs and piriformis sound like anyone who sits all day. Thank you for sharing the 3 poses and the roll out hot spots to help loosen this spot out to provide relief. I have seen how uncomfortable SI pain is.

Heidi Schaul-Yoder

Thanks for this post! I have some SI join discomfort (as do some of my clients), and I’m noticing how much stability work is important as well as the release work with YTU balls. Balance of mobility and stability is key!

Christy

Thanks for the reminder that there is now “quick fix” and there’s work to be done to correct the imbalances that caused the painful issue to begin with.

Jessica Haims

The SI joint is something I have had issues with for quit some time now due to hyper mobility. This article does a great job of highlighting the importance of finding stability in the body and how to create it if one does not have stability in the pelvis. I also loved that she explained the other muscles that will over work when the SI is out of alignment, I’m going to incorporate more work with the YTU balls for my QL as I know it is a muscle that is always working over drive for me!

Miao Zhang

I am setting an intention to do these exercises at home on a regular basis to alleviate my SI hypermobility. It bothers me often and sometimes I wake up not being able to walk without a pinching sensation. I’ll leave another comment after my experiment.

Heather Longoria

Thank you for the explanation regarding how to get and/or keep your core strong to address and prevent issues with the SI joint. I too struggle with lower back (but not sacral) pain and went to a PT for several months to address it. Despite doing and teaching yoga, I found that my core was still very weak. The PT prescribed both bridge lifts in a variation of locust (which he call superman). When I do them regularly, my back pain is MUCH better.

Heidi Schaul-Yoder

I have SI joint pain on my left side, and I’m beginning to learn about which muscles need to be more active in order to stabilize it. This is right on point and very helpful, thanks!

Kate

SI joint issues are so common in my yoga community, so it’s great to have suggestions to strengthen and stabilize to bring to my students. Thank you!

Brittany L

Thank you for the insight . It’s always a constant struggle when you have issues with your tissues. Appreciate the suggestions on your approach to professional attention as well as self care.

Francine Young

The video’s were very helpful, I just need to practice them daily!! My first exposure to YTU was a recent retreat where i learned and practiced using the balls to reduce the SIJ pain, it was the only therapy that had a lasting effect. Through this i was able to better understand why it was not healing and what i needed to do to stop it from recurring . Thank You YTU

Kyrin Hall

So agree, I find the YTU Therapy Ball, incredibly helpful for pain relief. I am also recovering from an injury and I find doing mobility yoga postures + using the YTU tools supports a daily routine of decongesting my muscles. Conversely seeing a masseuse daily is not viable. I really like my YTU Therapy balls.

Lori Palmer

I have had some recurring low back and SI issues for 15 years since the birth of my son that have found so much relief since I started working with the YTU balls and methods. Hands down one of my favorite strengthening exercises is the sidewinder and adding the other exercises in the last video sequence on a weekly basis has brought more awareness to how I hold my body in space. Thank you for a great post and reminder of preventative as well as healing exercises I can do to keep my back and core healthy.

Simran Khalsa

Glad you got good help. It is very helpful to see videos that deal with strengthening the surrounding muscles to support the healing and continuing correct alignment of the pelvis.

Shari Williams

I always have students who ask me for help with SI issues, now i feel that i have some really good material to share with them, and the confidence that it will help their situation not harm or exacerbate the condition. the movements in the side winder are are super fun too. Watching the prasarita/arms in T lateral flexion/extension with the leg adduction I could feel the yumminess in my body just by watching! Thanks!

Chris

A friend of mine ends up with back pain at least twice a year that is enough to keep him on the floor for days at a time. His doctors always advice him to do some exercises to strengthen his back after healing, but he struggles to find exercises that work for him. This sounds like perfect series for him to try. Between this and a set of therapy balls for christmas, hopefully he can lead a pain free 2016. Actually, I’m going to do a round right now as my back feels a little tight right now as well.… Read more »

Mindy Micheli

Emilie, thank you for this great article! You are amazing in your thoroughness of knowledge and expertise in blending therapeutic movement and activity to treat the whole…far past a simple localized focus. I feel absolutely educated on addressing dysfunction and pain in this area of the body. Thank you for taking the time, as well as the talent, to create such a comprehensive overview of this very important part of our anatomy.

Mary

Always a good reminder for core strengthening! I want to get a therapist to do some adjustments in that area too so I will make sure I keep doing those exercises, thank you!

Chadd

I like how these exercises create awareness of the rest of the back AWAY from the source of irritation so that these more distal muscles can activate in a more integrate manor transferring the balance of tension more evenly around the entire body — back, side and front muscles all get to chip in. Thanks!

April

I will use these routines in my own personal selfcare to stabilize my SI joints. Thank you!

Monica

These are great exercises that I’m eager to add to my self-care routine. I suffered an injury while taking a yoga class (instructed to do too many asymmetrical poses on the same side, while I stopped along the way, it wasn’t early enough) that caused intense pain in my SIJ. I could barely walk without pain and thought I’d need to take time off work. However, I began rolling on the balls and it immediately relieved ~70% of the pain. I kept rolling to help alleviate the pain. I’m eager to add strengthening exercises to the routine. Thanks for the… Read more »

Ethan Hammond

I have had popping in both SIJs on and off for years. And it always hapens when I neglect mobilizing and strengthening my lower back. These videos are great for both warming up your back and releasing tension to keep SIJ problems at bay. Great post!

Martine Kerr

It seems that SI joint disfunction is hereditary on the female side of my family, with my mother, sister and I all having suffered various degrees and frequency of problems. Our lifestyles being so different – not to mention approaches to discomfort – I was excited to share with them these easy, non-threatening and feel good moves while on our family holiday this summer. I did use rather high bolsters to teach the revolved abdominal pose, not wanting their nervous system to fire any danger signals and tensing up. I’m hopeful that they’ll start to feel the benefits after a… Read more »

megan mcdonald

Long before I found yoga tune up, I was in my first phase of rolfing school when I found pain in my SIJ. I was biking daily as transportation. I could tell that the biking was over stretching my SIJ, making it hurt and feel weak. I wasn’t aware of proper body mechanics at the time, I was still just learning anatomy, but I somehow knew I needed to strengthen the area, and so I would do low cobra (some styles call it boat) and bridge! I love seeing this and reminiscing about that time. However, I did not know… Read more »

Mary Aranas

Emilie, this was the first YTU blog article I opened up to, and it’s right on the ball for me! Pun intended. Both educationally and anecdotally, I relate. The chart and anatomy explanations are clear and non-intimidating. I, like many, I’m sure, relate both to the random twinge, and to the chronic hypermobility issue in movement. In my 30’s and 40’s I had yoga teachers mention in passing my “hypermobile SI joint” as it clicked and moved and adjusted at the drop of a hat. In my 50’s my practice increased in level and activity, and I also began to… Read more »

Sam

These videos are very helpful, thank you!