Does your SI joint feel weird?

6 min read.

It’s all too common for people to tell me their “SI joint feels off”, or needs adjusted. Let’s be honest, the term Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction sounds pretty intense!
 

But it’s not really.


What is the SI Joint and why does it matter?

 
The Sacroiliac (SI) joint connects either side of your hip bones (Iliac bones) to the Sacrum, (the triangular base of your spine, sitting between your lumbar spine and coccyx). The main job of the Sacroiliac joints is to act as a shock absorber between the upper body and the pelvis and legs. If it feels at all funky in that area it can make training a nightmare; especially if you regularly run or jump.
When there’s discomfort in this area, you’ll see people craving a ‘click!’ adjustment and living with a pain in their butt more intense on one side – which is sometimes accompanied by lower back pain, Piriformis Syndrome or even Sciatica.

 
Sometimes, your hips can just be sitting a little bit sideways for whatever reason, and that will potentially ease of its own accord. But, if you find you keep running in to the same issues again and again and again - you need to find out the cause of the “tug”.

 
That’s right! Something is tugging your pelvis.

 

Your Daily Habits


Bones don’t just do their own thing, they are heavily influenced by your muscles. If your daily habits always involve you sitting to one side at home or at work, always crossing the same leg or always leaning to the same side while you’re stood up… you can see how something could get out of whack. Even if you do really good, balanced training sessions a few times a week which add up to, let’s say, 5 hours, what are you doing for the other 163 hours?


I’m not saying this to scaremonger, in fact I want to show you that you can easily rectify major mobility issues with a few weeks/months of good focus - then continue to sit whatever way you want! I am all for a good slouch! Right now, I’m sat in loads of lumber flexion with my legs crossed over the top of one another loving life with a coffee. I want to get across that counteracting these positions it is a lot simpler than you may think.

 
You already have all the strength that you need to be pain free. Think: 80 year old Grannies and Grandads out there that are walking around without pain.

 
Is that because they’re doing 500 banded clam shells every day and attacking their trigger points?

Are they “stronger” than you?

 
Chances are, it is just a couple of little things about the way you move and your perception of what’s broken, wrong or irreversible.

 
Maybe one hip is just a little bit tighter than the other, maybe your balance isn’t great on one leg compared to the other and you’ve never spent any time working on these things.

 
Don’t let the big, bad world scare you. Think basic skills and range of motion before you turn into an exercise scientist.

 

“So what do I do!” I hear you screaming!


Well:
 
Find something you can test and retest
e.g. Squeeze your left and right butt cheek one at a time.
 

If you notice a difference in your left and right sides take note
e.g. Your left side doesn’t squeeze very well/your hamstring kicks in instead
 

Calm down the more active/tight side
 e.g. A gentle pigeon stretch on the more active right side
 


Activate/just use the side that feels lazier to you
e.g. Some Single Leg Glute Bridges on the less active left side
 
Keep doing this daily until you notice a change in your retest that’s lasting
e.g. Make it a habit – first thing when you get up, or every gym warm up no matter what you’re training that day. Make note how long the changes last by retesting immediately after, then a few hours later, then a day later – when do the effects wear off? Are they staying for longer the more you do it?
 

Ease off frequency but still check in on it from time to time
e.g. both cheeks squeeze at a similar strength/efficacy most of the time, you only need to “top up” every week or couple of weeks
 

Train as normal
e.g. your glutes now are acting as a formidable unit and you can train without falling back into old twisty habits

 
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Hopefully sounds simple and achievable!
 

The main thing is to experiment and test different exercises and find out where you imbalances lie. In the example we use a “weak” glute, but you may find your single leg balance is different between sides, or maybe you have a dramatic difference in your Deep Lunge Test. Then you will be able to find exercises to specifically improve your weaknesses. It is surprising how rarely people choose their warm up exercises to suit their specific issues, instead they follow generic warm ups or things they’ve seen other people doing… you’re spending your time warming up anyway, you may as well make it useful!

 
Any of these imbalances are enough to make your SI joint feel like it is sitting sideways, and no matter how many times you click or crunch it, if you don’t change what your muscles are doing, the same issues are just going to keep coming back.

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Work on Your Balance


As a super sexy bonus, I just want to reiterate the importance of developing your balance and foot strength. Regardless of what else you’ve got going on, or what other issues you may find – test your single leg balance too! If your balance is crazy good on one side compared to the other, your body will (understandably) favour the more stable side by default, which could be a potential cause of reoccurring muscle tightness.

 
If you can stand on your left leg for 2 minutes without falling over and can barely get 20 seconds on your right leg, what’s going to happen when you’re doing a minute of squats? Lunges? Step ups?

 
Balance is stability - when the stability goes compensations happen.

 
A minor difference between sides isn’t a big deal, everyone has a slightly stronger side, but if it’s noticeable enough to make you feel as ashamed of yourself as much as I do when I eat a sharing bag of donuts myself… then you should put work into it!

 
Work on it simple by standing on the “weaker” leg more often – don’t overcomplicate it! When you’re brushing your teeth, waiting on the kettle to boil, even while waiting in a queue (though make sure your surroundings are clear in case of a stumble 😜).

 
Over time, it will catch up. Could be a week, a month, six months or even 19 and a half months - just remember: if it took you 30 years to become a twisted, beautiful mess, a few months to undo it isn’t that long really.

 
Now GO! Go and assess your beautiful bum!!

 
Or just pick up The Simplistic Mobility Method, it will give you all the best hip stretches and exercises you should be testing!

READY TO GET STARTED?

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