Rehab of a Yogi Supplement: Tools to Ease Sacroiliac Joint Discomfort

April 12, 2011 § 2 Comments

These Mindful Ministrations are examples of some gentle yoga exercises which can be used to ease Sacroiliac joint discomfort.  Not all poses are good for all bodies.  Experiment and see for yourself.

Will they help to re-establish the proper alignment?  Depends on how you do it.  Also on whether you do it.

Mindful Morning Ministrations

(can also be done in the evening)

1. Alternate Knee Into Chest

Lie on the back.  Bring one knee in to the chest, wrap arms around knee, and press knee out.  Hold for five seconds.  Find the tight spots, breathe into them.

Three minutes with the right leg and three minutes with the left leg

2. Quads Stretch

Lie on the belly, bend one knee, hold foot and press heel into booty.

Two minutes with the right leg and two minutes with the left leg

3. Relax Lying on Belly

Place fists under the front hip bones and relax all muscles, breathe into the sacrum.  Think wide lower back, expansive, melting, softening, releasing.

Three minutes

4. Standing Forward Fold with One Foot Elevated

Stand.  Put one foot up on a stool, lean forward.  Breathe.  Stay until you can feel sensation in the sacrum or inner groin, inside the raised hip as the leg is externally rotated.

Three minutes with the right foot up and three minutes with the left foot up

Meditation Practice

Typically after I do the physical yoga practice I do my seated practice.  But sitting is actually not so awesome for low back pain, especially when pressure on the pelvis (from the stool or chair) resonates in the SI joint.

It is useful to sit anyway but remain very mindful of pain and discomfort.  I sit and  I coach myself.  Inhale.  Exhale.  Relax the shoulders. Notice how it feels in the low back.  What’s the sensation?  If there is ANY pain or pressure I remind myself that it’s not a failure but in fact a victory for me to choose a different pose.  I’m doing what I said I would.  I’m taking care of myself.

The best thing is to lie on the back in Constructive Rest position (check out this page and video for a more detailed explanation).  I learned this position from my study of the Alexander Technique, including lessons at the Hope Martin Studio.

Constructive Rest Pose

Constructive restKnees bent, feet flat on the floor.  Place a couple of paperback books under the back of the head – to release the weight of the skull from the neck and rest of spine.

Leg Options: Knees can either point to the ceiling or come together to rest and relax the tights (quads and hamstrings, front and back).

Arm Options: Heads can rest on lower ribs or belly but make sure that position does not bring tension into the chest and fronts of the shoulders.  Another option is to extend the arms out to the sides, hands about six inches away from the pelvis, palms up.  Rest backs of hands on the floor.  Let the entire left and right arm relax.  Shoulder blades nestle onto the back.  Tops of shoulder blades melt into the ground.

Stay for 10-20 minutes changing arm and leg positions as needed.  Notice the muscular engagement when shifting position.  Muscles can only relax and let go in stillness.  Full muscular relaxation is an advanced discipline and usually takes years of practice.  Though there may be some who can relax their muscles easily they are surely a minority of our modern human population.  There are muscles which tense and contract for the entire life of the body.  They will never release in the same way as the muscles of your arm can.  Those are the tissues of the Thoracic Diaphragm, our mammalian breathing apparatus.

Heat and Cold

Heat and cold therapy are highly recommended for any inflammation of the muscle and ligament tissues. I do not do this enough (if ever).  Heat for 10min.  Cold for 10min.  Alternate but be sure to end with the cold.  This can be done via heat pack / hot water bottle and ice pack.  Or via a hot shower followed by blast of cold.  I have a hard time staying under cold water for more than a minute (just my personal aversion).  Ideally you would wait 2-3 minutes allowing the cold to penetrate and soothe the inflamed tissue beneath the skin.

Please be advised that I am not a doctor or physical therapist (but a yoga teacher).  What I am describing are techniques which I am personally trying in attempt to alleviate my SI joint discomfort.  Effectiveness of these techniques is yet to be determined.  Ask me about it in three months’ time.


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Rehabilitation of a Yogi is the story of a personal quest to find contentment with reality and embrace self care.

This article was originally published at The Interdependence Project Blog.

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