Your sacroiliac joint, also known as the SI joint, is located where your pelvis and sacrum meet. It can be a common cause of lower back, leg and pelvic pain, especially when the joint is stressed or pushed out of alignment. By paying attention to proper positioning and being patient with your body during your yoga practice, you can use certain poses to help reduce pain caused by your sacroiliac joint.
About SI Joint Pain
Your SI joint is a small, strong and relatively inflexible joint at the base of your lumbar spine. Absorbing shocks to your body is one of the main functions of the SI joint. When you change the way you normally move your SI joint, you run an increased risk of developing SI joint pain, according to chiropractor Steven G. Yeomans in an article for Spine-Health. This can result from performing certain exercises improperly, sitting for extended periods of time so the joint doesn't get enough movement, specific back injuries and conditions that place stress on the joint, such as arthritis or pregnancy.
Sacroiliac joint dysfunction can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms of SI joint pain can mimic those of other conditions, including sciatica. Common symptoms of SI joint pain include lower back pain, pain in your buttocks, pain that radiates down to your groin, hips, legs or feet, trouble walking or performing your regular activities, and a burning sensation in your pelvis. According to Spine Universe, gentle exercises and stretches for your back can help mobilize the joint and reduce symptoms of SI pain. Gentle yoga stretching exercises may provide benefits for your condition.
Yoga poses that strengthen and stretch the area surrounding your SI joint include the triangle and the extended side angle poses. These poses can help stabilize the joint while increasing flexibility and strength in the muscles that support the lower back. According to physical therapist and yoga instructor Judith Lasater in an article for Yoga Journal, backbending poses such as the bow pose can also help because they move your SI joint back into place and strengthen your lower back and hip muscles. When performing certain poses that can stress the SI joint, such as the wide-angle seated forward bend, it's important to modify the pose so that you prevent increased pain and discomfort. Supporting your upper body on a chair and using blankets or bolsters under your buttocks can help you more comfortably perform seated forward bending postures. Additionally, if you suffer from acute SI joint pain, avoid poses that can increase SI joint instability, such as the one-legged pigeon pose.
Consult your doctor if you think your pain is being caused by your sacroiliac joint. Because other lower back conditions can mimic symptoms of SI pain, a proper diagnosis can help ensure that you receive the correct treatment. Obtain clearance from your doctor before starting a yoga program. If you experience an increase in SI joint pain, sharp, stabbing sensations running down your leg or any other troublesome symptoms while performing yoga, discontinue your practice and consult your doctor as soon as possible.
Ashley Miller is a licensed social worker, psychotherapist, certified Reiki practitioner, yoga enthusiast and aromatherapist. She has also worked as an employee assistance program counselor and a substance-abuse professional. Miller holds a Master of Social Work and has extensive training in mental health diagnosis, as well as child and adolescent psychotherapy. She also has a bachelor's degree in music.