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Yoga & Increased SI Joint Pain

by
author image Lorraine Shea
Lorraine Shea writes about yoga, fitness, nutrition, healing, philosophy, art, decorating and travel for magazines and websites including Fit Yoga, Pilates Style and Country Accents. She teaches Anusara-style yoga and specializes in breath technique, active relaxation and therapeutics. She has a B.A. in English from New York University.
Yoga & Increased SI Joint Pain
Three women doing yoga. Photo Credit Motoyuki Kobayashi/DigitalVision/Getty Images

SI is an abbreviation for sacroiliac, the joint that connects your sacrum to your pelvis on each side of your spine. Your sacroiliac joint has limited mobility, stabilizes your pelvis and spine, distributes the weight between your legs and torso, and acts as a shock absorber. Pain in the SI joint often occurs on one side, either from being too tight or too mobile. Yoga may, or may not, help to ease SI joint pain.

Causes and Considerations

Before you begin a yoga practice for sacroiliac joint pain, see your health practitioner to determine the cause of your discomfort. This will help determine exactly which yoga poses work best for you and which ones to avoid. Some possible causes of a painful sacroiliac joint include a pelvic misalignment, overly tight hips, excessive movement or a strain in the joint, poor posture, excessive sitting, or the stress of moving the sacrum and pelvis in two opposite directions. Sometimes, doing certain yoga poses can be the cause of sacroiliac pain.

SI Injury Symptoms

Generally, sacroiliac joint pain occurs only on one side. It may run alongside the hip or leg, unlike sciatica pain, which follows the sciatic nerve. SI joint pain is more common in women, due to wider hips, more flexible ligaments and hormones. Sometimes, the pain occurs on the opposite side of the joint that needs attention. This is why it helps to see a professional first.

Therapeutic Yoga

Certified yoga therapist Mukunda Stiles, author of "Structural Yoga Therapy," recommends sitting on your mat -- and on a folded blanket, if that’s more comfortable -- with your knees bent and on the floor, your left foot next to your left hip, your right foot next to your left knee and your right knee out to the right. Lengthen your spine upward. Inhale and tilt the top of your pelvis forward. Exhale, contract your belly and move the top of your pelvis back. Keep moving this way for at least 10 times. Next, manually turn your left inner thigh inward, lifting your left hip, then turn your hip downward to lower to the floor, for at 10 times. Repeat on the other side. Then, stand up and walk in place about 10 steps to promote stability.

Helpful Poses

Certain yoga poses, or asanas, can help strengthen your sacroiliac joints. The main thing to focus on is the stability of your pelvis and sacrum during asana practice. You do not want to overstretch this area. A mild Backbend pose, such as Cobra, Locust, Bridge, Bow pose or Reclining Hero pose, can help you strengthen your lower back and hip muscles. When you stand in Mountain pose, make sure your feet are hip-width apart, not touching.

Poses to Avoid

Until the pain subsides, avoid Seated Forward Bends, twists and wide-legged poses. As you begin to reintroduce these asanas in your practice, make sure to move your pelvis and sacrum as one unit at all times. Any separation may aggravate the pain.

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