Best 13 Exercises For SI Joint Dysfunction

Best 13 Exercises For SI Joint Dysfunction

If you were recently diagnosed with sacroiliac joint dysfunction, the future doesn’t sound as bad as it seems. You can’t cure this condition completely, but you can try a different approach – physical therapy.

For this reason, let me show you the best 13 exercises for SI Joint Dysfunction that I found. I’ve used some of them myself, for my RA, and they really helped on the long term.

But obviously, they won’t take away your pain completely, nor immediately. You will have to practice daily to get any real change. 

1. Bridges

They are among the most popular exercises for this problem, because they lead to a fast progress.

Why It’s Good: Bridges have the ability to strengthen your low back muscles. Once they are in a better shape, these muscles will support your sacroiliac joint better, and the pain should slowly decrease.

How To Do It: The key of this exercise is to lay down and bent your knees, raising your hips as much as you can. Ideally, your body should form a straight line.

Sometimes that’s not possible from the start, so repeat this exercise daily until you can adopt the right position. After a few weeks, you should gradually see a progress.


2. Press-Up Exercise

Best 13 Exercises For SI Joint DysfunctionDon’t worry, we’re not talking about the classic press-ups that bodybuilders do. There is another type of press-up exercises used to improve back pain or SI dysfunction.

Why It’s Good: It prevents additional injuries by strengthening your back. Because of SI dysfunction, your back muscles are much weaker than normal.

How To Do It: In this case, you’re laying on the floor with your hands underneath your shoulders. Using your hands, try to raise the upper part of your body, leaving the knees in the same position as before.

This isn’t a very hard exercise, but if your pain is too strong and you can’t do it, raise your body as much as you can, even only a little.

Then repeat the exercise everyday and you should see an improvement.


3. Stretches

Stretches are probably one of the most popular exercises in the world, so it’s no surprise that they are used for Si joint therapy too.

Why It’s Good: Stretches are one of the gentlest exercises for this condition, but that doesn’t mean they’re not that effective.

How To Do It: Now, there are so many types of stretches that it’s hard to describe each of them.

But if you want the one that are most helpful in SI dysfunction, you should try the knee-to-chest stretch, hip stretch or gluteal stretch. 

I recommend you to associate physical therapy with a good glucosamine supplement. They will decrease your pain, so you will be able to exercise easier.

On the long term, your SI joint’s inflammation can even disappear completely. So this supplements + exercises combination can make miracles. 


4. Lumbar Rotation

This is also a kind of stretch exercise, but it’s a bit more complex so I preferred to explain it separately.

Why It’s Good: It’s also one of the gentles exercises on this list, but it works pretty well if you perform it correctly.

How To Do It: In order to do a lumbar rotation, you have to lay on your back with your knees bent down.

Starting from your hips, slowly rotate the lower part of your body in the right, then in the left. Do this about 5-10 times, but don’t do it too fast because it won’t be as effective and it may increase your pain.


5. Hip Extension

Best 13 Exercises For SI Joint DysfunctionThere are 2 types of hip extensions – resisted and normal ones.

Why It’s Good: This exercise strengthens the hip muscles, which are quite sensitive and painful in SI joint dysfunction.

How To Do It: #1. In the normal hip extension, you’re laying down with your face to the floor. You can either lay down completely or lay on your knees, however you like.

Then slowly raise one leg, without changing its position. Do this up to 10 times with one leg, then pass to the other one.

#2. If you’re doing the resisted hip extensions, you need a resistance band that should be tied to a wall or any strong object.

Tie one end of the band to that object, and the other one of one of your legs. Then slowly stretch the leg backwards, as much as the resistance band allows you. Do this a couple of times, them move on to the next leg.


6. Bear Walk

Best 13 Exercises For SI Joint DysfunctionWhy It’s Good: It may sound like a silly thing, but the bear walk exercise strengthens the muscles of your whole back.

You probably know that your low back muscles are very important for the sacroiliac joint. For this reason, strengthening them is essential in SI dysfunction.

How To Do It: Normally, this exercise requires you to do several parts of 20 yards each. However, that’s impossible for a person with joint pain. For this reason, do the bear walk for about 5 yards, then take a break. Do it again for about 2-3 times, depending on how tired you feel. 

If you can’t do it again, try doing it just once a day, but do it daily. That’s extremely important, because you will be able to see some progress in the exercise itself, but also in how you feel. 


7. One Knee Out

This exercise has a few similarities with the knee-to-chest stretch, but it takes a bit longer.

Why It’s Good: Compared to stretches, it works the back muscles even more, as long as you perform it correctly.

How To Do It: In order to do it, you have to lay down on your back with one knee bent down. Now try raising that knee slowly, until you bring it close to your chest. Hold it with both of your hands for about 5 seconds, then release it and do the same with the other leg. 

Alternate the legs for about 5 times, with a couple of break between them so that you don’t get too exhausted. 


8. Dead Bugs

Best 13 Exercises For SI Joint DysfunctionHere’s another exercise with a really silly name, but that can be extremely helpful in early stages of SI joint dysfunction. Unfortunately, the dead bug is a pretty hard exercise for people not used to working out, so it might seem a bit challenging at first.

Also, if your pain is very severe, you will most likely not be able to do this exercise.

Why It’s Good: Though it’s more difficult, it can also provide a better support.

How To Do It: The point of it is having your hands and legs at 90 degrees one from the other. If it’s hard to understand precisely, the picture might be more helpful.

Once you’re in the right position, try to move your hand and legs at the same time.


9. Cobra Exercise

Best 13 Exercises For SI Joint DysfunctionWhy It’s Good: This is one of the easiest exercises of a typical workout, but it turned out to work perfectly in calming down SI joint pain.

How To Do It: When doing this exercise, lay down with your face to the floor and keep the upper part of your body up.

You have to do this by supporting your body in your hands. Also, it is very important to keep your shoulders straight and your head slightly backwards. 


10. Gluteal Sets

Why It’s Good: Among all the 13 exercises from that list, this is far the easiest because it can be done anywhere, anytime and it doesn’t require any skill. Any beginner can perform it correctly without any difficulty. 

How To Do It: To perform this exercise, simply squeeze your buttlock muscles for 5 seconds (or as long as you can) and then relax. It’s extremely easy, and it can really help with your pain.

But unfortunately, this won’t happen overnight so you have to perform this exercise daily, for at least one week. 


11. Ball Squeeze

Why It’s Good: Just like you can tell from its name, this exercise requires a ball and very little force. You can do it even if you’re feeling pretty weak and you don’t have much force inside your body.

How To Do It: You need to lay down on your back, bent down you knees and place a ball between them. Then squeeze the ball for about 5 seconds or even more, if you are capable.

You can repeat this exercise as much as you can, because it’s extremely easy and helpful for your sacroiliac joint. If your health affords it, you can do it 30 or 40 times, but don’t take it too fast.


12. Triangle Pose

Best 13 Exercises For SI Joint DysfunctionIf the gluteal sets were the easiest exercises from that list, the triangle post is probably the hardest. That’s because it does require you to bend your body down, and that’s not so easy when you are in pain.

However, some patients manage to do it despite that pain.

Why It’s Good: As it’s the hardest exercise, it’s also one of those that work much faster.

How To Do It: While standing, put your feet apart and try to touch your right toes using your right hand. But the point is to do that without bending your knees, if that is possible, of course. Stay in that position for a few seconds, then relax your body. Afterwards, do the same with your left hand and toes.


13. Resistance Band Exercise

Why It’s Good: It’s one of those exercises that people do regularly even when they’re healthy. It strengthens the muscles from your legs, butt and even back.

How To Do It: In this exercise, you will need a resistance band similar to the one from the hip extensions. Lay down on your back and bent down your knees, placing the resistance band onto them.

Then slowly start pushing your knees outwards, keep them in this position for a few seconds and get them back as they were. You can do this exercise for about 10 times per day, because it helps your SI joint directly.



So Which Of These Exercises For SI Joint Dysfunctions Will You Try?

I really advise you to try each of them, because a combination of exercises will always show much better results than a single one.

However, some of the exercises I mentioned require an average shape, and not everyone can do them because of the pain. If that’s you case as well, start with something more simple – a few sets of gluteal exercises, followed by an easy stretch and finishing with a few ball squeezes.

You will see that day by day, you will feel much better and you will be able to try something harder. That’s the best advice when it comes to physical therapy for SI dysfunction – take it step by step and sooner or later, you will see a progress.

Heather Pharm.D.

Heather Tracy Foley is a Pharmacy graduate, Blogger and Author with a vast experience in health sciences. She has a particular interest in joint pain and rheumatology and spent several years studying health problems. You can find her on Pinterest or via email.

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3 Responses

  1. Jeremiah says:

    I have SI pain and I tried to get relief with exercises, but everything seems too hard for my body. I tried so hard but I never manage to finish a session of workouts. It’s just too tiresome and I lose my breath by the end, so I have to stop.

    Do you know anything that is super easy to do? Like not require large effort, because I’m not capable of that. Thanks!

  2. Heather says:

    Hello Jeremiah, I completely understand what you’re saying. Some of the exercises I mentioned are pretty hard if your pain is severe, especially at first.

    So if you really want to do some exercises, I recommend you to start with some light stretches and maybe some gluteal exercises. I described both of the above. In the first days don’t force yourself. When you feel tired, simply stop and continue the following day. The key is to repeat the exercises everyday, because your resistance will get better eventually.

    So just take it easy, step by step and don’t force your body. If you do this for one week, you should see that your resistance is growing slowly. Hope this helps.

  3. JayTee says:

    Hi Jeremiah,
    I am dealing with excruciating SI joint pain from hypermobility along with an inflexible lumbar spine. I also have a hip upslip which causes leg length discrepancy. I would recommend seeing a physical therapist to diagnose the issues underlying your pain and determine what will be helpful versus cause more harm. For example, my PT determined that my lumbar issue needs to be addressed as it is contributing to my SI joint issues, and explained that certain stretches and exercises are not advised for hypermobility issues. He recently changed up my treatment and it involved Cobra but I need to roll up gently and only to the point right before pain, child’s pose, lumbar rotation, and then I am working on a progression building up to bird dogs. Prior to him changing my plan I was also doing glute bridges which seemed to help and bridging on a large exercise ball. I could not and still cannot tolerate anything side lying without severe spasms.

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