Yoga for the Sacroiliac Joint

In the last post, I talked about Piriformis Syndrome (click here if you missed it) which causes pain in the buttock and often down the leg via the route of the sciatic nerve. There’s another condition called Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction, SIJD for short, that can cause terrible pain. SIJD is sometimes confused with Piriformis Syndrome or Sciatica. They are all, quite literally, a pain in the butt.

The sacroiliac joint (SIJ) is the area where two bones, the sacrum and ilium, meet. The sacrum is the triangular bony area located just below the lumbar vertebrae, and in between the hip bones. The ilium are the two flat hip bones that, when looking at them from the front, are shaped like ears. The union between these two bones fit together much like a jig-saw puzzle. There are many depressions, bumps and ridges that join perfectly together. The SIJ is not bonded together, so some movement happens. However, there really is only a tiny amount of motion available at this joint. The SIJ depends on the surrounding ligaments to hold it in perfect alignment.

Unfortunately, sometimes the joint does become misaligned, and the ligaments, which are used to holding the joint IN alignment, now hold the joint OUT of alignment. Common causes are trauma, pregnancy and arthritis. SIJD pain is located in the area of the joint, and can switch from one side to the other. Those who suffer from SIJD may experience increased pain when rising up from a chair or bending forward. Sadly, since the joint surfaces fit together in an exact pattern, like a puzzle, it can be hard to resolve this pain.

If you believe that you may be suffering from SIJD, go to your doctor, PT or chiropractor. They may be able to adjust the joint to help relieve the pain. There are also some yoga postures that can help bring relief, and in some cases help work the joint back into alignment. These postures work by easing the the tightness of the ligaments and creating some space for the joint to move back where it needs to be. They also improve body awareness and posture. Try the following yoga postures to help with SIJD:

Janu sirsasana (Single leg forward fold)
Marichyasana (Sage Twist)
Anantasana (Side Reclining Lift)
Baddha Konasana (Bound Angle Pose)
Garudhasna (Eagle Pose)

Note that many of the above asanas are twists. To avoid injury in these postures, it’s important ease into the twist. Move your pelvis slowly as you twist. Take care to not use your arms for more torque to crank yourself into a deeper twist. For a sequence that can help with SIJD, sign up for my next newsletter here. In the next issue, I am including a yoga sequence that features some of these postures. For more individualized instruction, try a Functional Yoga Coaching Session, or enjoy my relaxing “Unwind the Spine” class on Friday evenings at 4:30 Mountain Time. Also, don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter for tips on how to keep your spine healthy and your spirits lifted!

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