SI Joint Pain Exercises to Avoid

SI Joint Pain Exercises to Avoid

Dealing with SI joint pain and uncertain about your limitations? Frequently encountered (SI) sacroiliac joint pain is a common discomfort. However, it may go unnoticed, leading some to attempt remedies that could inadvertently intensify the pain.

Exercise is a prevalent remedy for SI joint pain, but it's crucial to note that not all exercises yield the same benefits. Certain exercises should be excluded from your routine. Explore these tips to recognize potential SI joint pain and learn what to avoid for effective improvement.

Understanding SI Joint Pain

Sacroiliitis involves the inflammation of the sacroiliac (SI) joints, the junction where your lower spine meets the pelvis. The sacroiliac (SI) joint plays a vital role in the functionality of the lower back, pelvis, and legs. This essential joint bears the upper body’s weight, facilitating its transfer to your lower body while serving as a shock absorber to manage pressure from the legs to the spine. 

The pain can stem from factors such as arthritis, traumatic injury, persistent muscle weakness, infection, hormonal changes, pregnancy, obesity, improper posture, or other medical conditions.

If you struggle with SI joint pain, you might experience discomfort in your groin, pelvis, buttocks, and lower back. Occasionally, the pain may extend to your legs. Prolonged SI joint pain can make routine tasks more challenging to perform.

To learn more, visit our article on strategies for sleeping with SI joint pain.

Which Exercises Have the Potential to Worsen SI Joint Pain?

Rotating your pelvis during activities like tennis or golf can stress the ligaments connecting your joints. Prolonged driving or improper stretching may also lead to SI joint stress and potential injury. Certain exercises can exacerbate sacroiliac joint discomfort by placing additional pressure on the SI joints. 

It is advisable not to engage in the suggested exercises that intensify strain on the sacroiliac joint. If you're in pain, minimize activities that involve bearing weight on a single leg to maintain a more stable position for your pelvis.

No Sit-Ups and Crunches

Surprisingly, enhancing your core through dynamic motions or prolonged rigid poses can potentially exacerbate lower back discomfort. During sit-ups, as you raise your upper body towards your knees, it induces stress and tension in the ligaments linking the pelvis and SI joint. This action can intensify strain on the SI joint, potentially worsening the pain.

Crunches focus on the abdominal muscles, involving the lifting of the chest toward the knees. Like sit-ups, this action can create stress and tension in the ligaments around the SI joint, potentially increasing strain and worsening pain levels.

Opt for exercises that evenly distribute weight over both feet, such as floor bridges, deadlifts, and squats, as single-leg movements can compromise the stability of your pelvis.

No Planks

The plank, a frequently employed yoga exercise, targets the shoulder, abdomen, hip, and buttock muscles. While holding the position for an extended period stresses the muscles in the pelvis and hip, potentially strengthening muscles and ligaments around the SI joint. However, for individuals with existing SI joint issues, it may exacerbate the problems instead.

Opt for instructor-guided yoga, Pilates, or tai chi core strengthening moves instead of exercises that may worsen sacroiliac dysfunction.

Avoid High-Impact Sports

Refrain from engaging in exercises or activities that entail extensive twisting or turning at the hips. Avoid dynamic sports like tennis, volleyball, gymnastics, racquetball, badminton, and ice skating. Stay away from sports involving repetitive running, sudden stops and changes in direction, and twisting that stresses your hips, pelvis, and ligaments. Additionally, avoid contact sports like football or basketball that might exacerbate SI joint injuries.

Engage in low-impact swimming, but be cautious with strokes like breaststroke (with back arching), freestyle (involving torso twisting), and butterfly (involving back arching) to minimize strain on your body. 

Avoid engaging in low-intensity activities involving bending, balancing, or twisting, including seemingly gentle sports like archery, golf, or bowling, especially during the healing process.

No Leg Lunges

Refrain from leg lunges if you experience SI joint pain, as they entail shifting weight from one leg to the other, intensifying stress and tension, especially when sinking into the lunge. This movement can exacerbate SI joint issues by straining connecting ligaments and stressing your surrounding muscles.

Avoid High-Intensity Workouts

Avoid engaging in heavy weightlifting, especially exercises that place strain on the lower back.

Refrain from excessive biking/cycling or prolonged rides, as they may prove detrimental by exerting additional pressure on the sacroiliac joints.

Stay away from impact activities such as jumping, jump-roping, running, and other ballistic movements, as they are likely to exacerbate pain due to increased hypermobility in your pelvis region. Prolonged sitting in a forward-leaning position on a bike can tilt the pelvis forward, resulting in heightened stress on the SI joint.

No Cardio Machines

Avoid using traditional cardio machines like the elliptical, treadmill, and Stairmaster, as they emphasize single-leg activities and are not recommended.

A treadmill typically involves running or jogging in place, carrying the same caution as running for exercise. The stair climber and many other cardio machines share similar warnings due to the potential for increased stress on the SI joint, with the stair climber posing an even greater risk.

During the healing of your sacroiliac joint, you can aid the process and alleviate pain through the use of red light therapy.

In conclusion, understanding and carefully selecting exercises play a pivotal role in managing SI joint pain effectively. Avoid activities that place excessive stress on your sacroiliac joint, such as certain core exercises, high-impact sports involving twisting or impact, and machine-based workouts promoting single-leg activities. 

Keep in mind that consulting with a physical therapist or healthcare professional is always a wise step toward achieving long-term relief from SI joint pain.

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