If you have inflammation in one or both of your sacroiliac joints -- the two joints that connect your lower spine to your pelvis -- this can cause your low back to ache. Inflammation in your sacroiliac joints, known as sacroiliitis, can also lead to sciatic pain that extends down one or both of your legs. Gentle stretching that targets your low back and the muscles around these joints is not only relaxing, but it also can relieve some of your discomfort.
Yoga poses that stretch and strengthen your low-back muscles help relieve sacroiliitis discomfort. One example is a Cobra stretch. The starting position for Cobra is on your stomach. Place your hands underneath your shoulders and gently push your upper body off the floor. Keep your pelvis on the floor and relax your low back and glutes. Don't lock your arms -- keep a tiny bend in your elbows. Hold the stretch for five to 10 breaths and then gently lower yourself back down to the floor. Repeat five to 10 times.
Another common yoga pose to stretch your sacroiliac joints is Knee-To-Chest. In a reclining position, bend your right knee and bring it to your chest; leave your left foot on the floor or extend your left leg for a deeper stretch. Place your hands behind your right thigh and hold the Knee-To-Chest stretch for five to 10 breaths. Release the right leg and repeat with your left leg. Repeat five to 10 times on each side.
Stretches that strengthen the muscles around your sacroiliac joints will also help relieve discomfort from sacroiliitis. A standing stretch to strengthen the hip rotators and gluteal muscles that stabilize your sacroiliac joints is the yoga Triangle pose. Start standing with your feet together. Take a big step back with your left foot, turning your left foot out slightly. In this wide stance, align your heels. Straighten both legs, lean forward and tilt your back hip up toward the ceiling. Reach down to your right shin or ankle with your right hand; reach up toward the ceiling with your left hand and open your chest. Hold the stretch for five to 10 breaths and then repeat on the other side.
Before stretching, warm your muscles up with 5 to 10 minutes of light cardio movement or a hot shower. Your muscles will stretch easier when they are warm. If you have tight hamstrings, avoid deep low-back stretches and challenging yoga poses such Forward Fold. Deep stretching with tight hamstrings can aggravate your low back and make your sacroiliitis feel worse.
Kris Heeter is a research scientist specializing in basic cancer and disease research. Her work has appeared in several scholarly journals and online publications. Heeter has also been a wellness professional for more than 15 years, teaching healthy cooking courses and fitness classes. She holds a Ph.D. in molecular and cellular biology.