You may be used to dealing with aches and pains in your knees or wrists and know what to do about it. But what about your SI joint? If you’re not familiar with this area at the base of the spine, it should be on your radar.
In fact, it could already be causing problems without you realizing it: Researchers attribute between 15 and 30 percent of chronic low back pain to the SI joint.
And unfortunately, the pains associated with this joint don’t stop at your back: They could extend to your buttocks or groin, and could range from a dull, constant ache to a sharp, shooting pain, making it hard to pinpoint at times.
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Read on to learn more about what SI joint is and why cyclists are especially prone to SI joint problems, plus eight PT-approved SI joint exercises to help you get back on the bike in no time.
What is the sacroiliac joint?
The sacroiliac, or SI, joints are located in the pelvis and connect the sacrum to each pelvic bone, says Hamish Vickerman, an Australia-based physiotherapist. These joints are very stable and strong with limited motion due to their bone structure and strong ligament support.
Problems start to arise when joints become too loose, sometimes caused by pregnancy and childbirth, or too tight, and moving either side erratically or sitting for extended periods (hello, every bike ride ever) can contribute. to the latter. This can lead to lower back, butt, or groin pain.
Trauma, such as falling off a bicycle, is a common cause of SI joint pain, but cyclists are also prone to this injury if they don’t apply equal pressure to the pedals, says Brian Gurney, DPT, CSCS, a trainer, certified board sports. clinical specialist and physical therapist at BeFit Therapy in New York City. This can be caused by a muscle imbalance in their range of motion around the hips and/or weakness in the core and glutes stabilizers, or if there is a leg length discrepancy.
How do you avoid problems with the SI joint?
Avoiding big jumps in your training can help you sidestep SI problems to begin with. Gradual progression allows your body to adjust to the increased demands placed on it, while sudden load spikes can potentially trigger SI joint symptoms, so sharply increasing training loads can minimize this risk, says Vickerman, who She also recommends making sure the bicycle is properly assembled to help reduce stress and strain on the SI joint.
Keeping all of your core and lower body muscles strong also helps to better support and stabilize your SI joint; Vickerman recommends incorporating exercises that work your glutes, hip flexors, quadriceps, and hamstrings in particular at least twice a week.
If you’re experiencing pain and think your SI joint is to blame, get off your bike first. Horse riding will unfortunately continue to aggravate the injury, Gurney says.
Next, schedule a check-in with an orthopedic doctor (who may require imaging) and a physical therapist as soon as possible — they’ll be able to determine if the pain is truly a problem with the SI joint (as opposed to something else, such as a lumbar disc injury/lower spine). ) and whether imbalances or other factors contribute to it.
In the meantime, try these eight strength and stretching exercises. They can help relieve pain associated with SI joint problems, but also prevent them in the first place, so they should be in every cyclist’s training arsenal.
8 exercises for the sacroiliac joint to relieve pain
1. Dead insect
Why it works: This move strengthens the core and mimics the reciprocal action of riding a bike.
How to do it: Lie face up with arms extended towards the ceiling. Bend your knees 90 degrees and lift your thighs until they are perpendicular to the floor, knees above your hips. This is the starting position. Lower your left arm and right leg to the floor. Return to the starting position. Repeat on the opposite side. Continue alternating for 30-45 seconds.
2. Bird dog
Why it works: Similar to the dead bug, but in reverse, this move stabilizes your core while helping you practice the reciprocal action of cycling.
How to do it: Start on all fours, shoulders over wrists and knees under hips. With your neck in a neutral position, extend your left leg behind you as you reach your right arm forward. Hold for 5 seconds. Then, pull your elbow and knee in to touch center. Get back on all fours. Repeat on the opposite side for 1 rep. Do 8-12 reps.
3. High bandaged knee march
Why it works: Works the hip flexors, quadriceps and hamstrings for a well rounded lower body movement.
How to do it: Place a resistance band around your thighs and stand with your feet hip-width apart. Lift one knee towards your chest, flexing the hip. lower leg and repeat on the opposite side. Continue pairing for 1 minute, alternating legs, engaging your core and keeping your pelvis squared forward.
4. Single leg bridge
Why it works: Strengthens the core, hamstrings and glutes while improving stability and balance.
How to do it: Lie face up with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Extend your right leg so your foot is pointing toward the ceiling. Exhale and push down through your left heel to lift your hips, then slowly lower your hips to the floor. Repeat. Do 8-12 reps. Then repeat on the opposite side.
5. Romanian deadlift
Why it works: Target the entire posterior chain with this variation of the deadlift, which also helps you maintain strong posture and powerful pedaling.
How to do it: Stand with feet hip-width apart, holding a dumbbell in each hand. Keeping your back straight, bend your knees slightly and hinge at your hips sending your butt straight back, lowering the dumbbells keeping them close to your shins. Drive your feet into the floor to stand up, extending your hips. Repeat. Do 8-12 reps.
6. Quadruple stretch
Why it works: As experts suggest, you need to stretch your quads and hip flexors to keep your SI joint happy. This move does just that.
How to do it: With your left knee on the floor near the front of a sofa, kick your leg so that the top of your left foot is pressing against the edge of the seat. Step your right foot out so your knee is bent and your thigh is parallel to the floor. Hold the position for 30 to 60 seconds. Then repeat on the opposite side.
7. Downward dog
Why it works: Increase flexibility in your calf and hamstrings with this yoga-inspired stretch.
How to do it: Start on all fours. Tuck your toes under your feet and straighten your arms and legs, pushing your hips toward the ceiling so your body forms an upside-down V. Hold for several deep breaths, then return to all fours. Repeat once or twice.
Why it works: Stretch your hips and reduce butt pain with this feel-good stretch.
How to do it: Start with downward dog. Lift your right leg and bring your right knee to the back of your right wrist, then rotate your shin until it’s as close to parallel with the short end of the mat as possible, keeping your left leg straight behind you. Place your hands on the floor under your shoulders and, keeping your hips squared forward. Hold the position for several deep breaths. Return to downhill dog. Then repeat on the other side.
Laurel Leicht is a writer and editor in Brooklyn. She has covered health, fitness and travel for outlets including Well + Good, Glamor and O, The Oprah Magazine.
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