My friend Kate and I were talking about our dodgy sacroiliac joints the other day. The topic came up because hers is hurting right now, following a popping noise in an early morning yoga class.
Popping noises, when related to SI Joints, are alarming things. Popping noises, when related to ANY joints, are alarming things. Now, for the scientific lowdown on SI Joint dysfunction, please read this excellent wikipedia article.
I will add that in yogis, SIJ dysfunction is almost always a result of acquired hyper mobility in those joints. This hyper mobility generally develops over time, by repeated insult to the ligaments that hold the joint stable.
Extreme adduction (crossing the legs over your midline) and abdcution (taking your legs out to the sides), especially with bent knees, as in some of the poses below, is fine for many people. But not all. Not all of us can move our legs in such a big range of motion in our hip sockets, and so, when we are trying to get into poses that we don’t have the mobility for, we inevitably recruit flexibility from other joints – knees and SIJ’s usually.
Over time, the ligaments that stabilise these joints get stretched and damaged, and the joints get destabilised. Not pretty. Very painful. Not necessary, but once it’s happened, you live with the consequences for, probably, ever.
Anyone knows of a miracle cure that does more than prolotherapy, let me know!
My early yoga teachers didn’t know this stuff, or if they did, they ignored it. I didn’t question their teaching: I was too green back then to know that I don’t bend right for yoga.
I got stood on in Baddha Konasana to get my knees to the ground (they never will, my hips won’t allow it).
I got taught to yank myself into twists, even the bound ones like Marichyasana D, below. The injury to my pelvis didn’t show up until years later.
I got taught (and, full confession, I WANTED) to reach for extreme ranges of motion, and then use my arms and legs as levers, to get into Supta Kurmasana, as below. My poor lower back!
Now, you can tell from the photos - some people can do this stuff. Not everyone. Certainly not me. Also, I have no idea if the woman in the photos has pain. She might – I haven’t asked because I found her photos by way of Google, as you do.
Kate was asking whether I still manage my SIJ every day.
Yes. Every day, I work on strengthening the muscles that stabilise my pelvis and core. Every day, I work on improving the rhythm between my pelvis, low back and legs.
And some days, I work on pain management, when my SIJ’s are inflamed from too much sitting (on the back of a motorbike, for example).
Kate was also asking whether hip openers help with the pain or make it worse.
Mostly? They make it worse. Especially the kind where each leg is doing a different thing. I will write a post about the things I do for happy SIJ’s, soon, but for now, if you have SIJ pain, try practicing the constructive rest position:
Or Supta Baddha Konasana, possibly with a sacro-wedgy (or a rolled up towel, which is what I use). Hang out there for a long time, at least a few minutes, and you are looking for pain-free, or at least no increase in pain!
See what I mean? Look how high my knees are off the ground. That’s just the bones I got in the lottery of life. This, however, is a hip-opener that I love.
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