My S.I. Joint Journey
As a yoga teacher I am always interested in collaborating and sharing information with other professional yoga teachers. Roger Cole is one of those teachers who does an excellent job teaching about SI joint anatomy and how to progress experientially through a sequence of adaptive yoga moves that have the potential to reset our SI joints to their natural pain free position. Read more about how SI joint pain can come and go. In my book ~ Healing Our Backs with Yoga: an essential guide to back pain relief, I devoted a whole chapter to the different types of S.I. joint imbalance with pose sequences to create relief and balance. Roger and I both hold to the perspective that creating proper alignment and muscular balance is the best choice for reducing and relieving S.I. pain with the appropriate time and effort. In the Iyengar method in which we were trained, we use props to aid in understanding and action. Here is an important one that can be a great aid to stay pain free.
How to Use a Sacroilliac Belt
In my personal journey, SI joint “dysfunction” has been part of my life for over 30 years. Sometimes the pattern is not noticeable, sometimes very painful for weeks on end. Most notably my dysfunction creates a scoliosis pattern with knee and shoulder strain on the opposite side. Once you have established that your S.I. joint and hip muscles are out of balance, I suggest you use this fabulous Sacroilliac Belt made by Serola. You can easily find on Amazon.
What I can confidently report is that coming to understand and apply the right yoga moves has given me a fairly high degree of functioning even though my S.I. joints are out of alignment often, seems like 50% of the time. Discover my insights and guidance in my 2018 course with Yoga U Online; Yoga for Back Health Part 2: Yoga for the Asymmetric Pelvis.
Approximately 1/3 of the population exhibits a short leg/ long leg profile. Although SI joint displacement is not likely to be the cause of all those short legs, it is a notable one. Read more about how to address your SI joint, especially when sleeping!
S.I. Joint Dysfunction and Women
Over my 30 years of teaching, I have found SI joint dysfunction to be “recurring” especially in women. Whether this is due to the shape of our pelvis, the tendency toward long loose ligaments, or some other stress pattern- including an unbalanced or improper yoga practice, women seem more susceptible to hyper-mobility along with SI joint dysfunction. Therefore although there is a joy in flexibility, there needs to be a balance of tone, flexibility and stability if we are to be “pain free”.
Being located deep inside on the front side of the sacrum, the SI joints are somewhat perplexing and mysterious. Is the right side misaligned or the left or both? Are the muscles or ligaments to tight or to loose? Is one side twisted forward and down, or up and back? Whatever position or for whatever reason your SI joints are “out of place”, the manifestation will be seen in the muscular imbalance between your two legs and hips. So by beginning to observe the muscles that are chronically short or long (tight/stiff vs. loose/weak), we can apply our discriminating intelligence and work toward creating balance with our yoga practice.
Over the years I have come to understand and balance/maintain good SI joint functioning by addressing the asymmetry of my body much like a person with scoliosis. IE; my right leg and left leg are just different and each side calls for its own focus and its own poses or patterns of execution.
My general advice is to examine the current balance in your own body identifying your longer muscles and your shorter ones. Watching to not overstretch your already long muscles by holding those poses for shorter time and by learning to activate/tone those muscles while in the poses.
Keys to My Success
There are three keys to my success of remaining “pain free”:
One is to use the Basic Hip Series to help you identify the balance of flexibility in the hip joints by extending in all the anatomical movements of that joint. Those 6 poses are Supta Padangusthasana 1-2-3 – leg up, out, and over for flextion, abduction and adduction, Traction twist for internal rotation, “the number 4 stretch” (on your back, ankle on opposite knee, knees toward chest) for external rotation, Lunges or ardha supta virasana for extension.
You will find detailed guidance on the poses I mention here in my book ~ Healing our Backs with Yoga: an essential guide to back pain relief. * Please note that in Supta Padangusthasana 3 with the leg over, place your foot on the floor or a block and stack your hips one on top of the other so as to not stress an already loose or misaligned SI joint.
Two Wear the Sacroilliac Belt at your desk, when doing tasks that require pelvic strength; like Gardening, lifting and moving, vacuuming floors, etc.
Three Spend time walking every day or every other day, especially before sitting for hours at a desk. Get up from the desk every hour and really M O V E your legs. See my blog post – 3 Poses to Reduce the Negative Effects of Sitting
Or watch my Free six part blog and video series, S.I. Joint Stabilization Series, that will guide you through a simple poses with video assistance.
Purchase my Yoga for Back Health Part 2: Yoga for the Asymmetric Pelvis on Yoga U Online for an in depth explanation of S.I. joint considerations along with four 30 minute yoga practice sets to help you on your healing journey.
Thank you for reading.