The Sacroiliac Joint (S-I)
Many clients come to me complaining of pain, on either the right or left side of their body, in the general area of their S-I or sacroiliac joint, low back, hip, often the groin, and sometimes all the way down their legs into their feet. Clients tell me their chiropractor or physical therapist said their right or left S-I joint was stuck or locked-up and inflamed. This means the S-I joint or joints are not moving, and of course they have pain throughout the general area of their pelvis and low back.
So, how would I as a Hanna Somatic Educator help my clients deal with this problem? Look at the pictures to help you visualize the SI joints and the surrounding bones, joints, muscles, nerves, ligaments, and fascia. The crescent shaped S-I joints are wedged between the sacrum, which is the bottom of the spine, and the two iliac bones. They are deep and irregularly shaped joints, one on the right and one on the left.
They are not voluntary joints like the hip or shoulder. If I ask you to move your shoulder or hip, you contract voluntary, skeletal muscles around either the shoulder or hip joints and the joint moves. But the SI joint is a non-voluntary joint. It is moved by muscles crossing other joints which in tern cause movement in the SI joints. The SI joint is usually categorized as a slightly moveable joint.
Gravity pushes down on us through our spine. The ground reaction force pushes up on us through our feet and legs, and goes through the hips and pelvis, including the S-I joints. The sacrum has a movement called nutation in which a small amount of rocking movement is allowed and either contributes to the anterior or posterior tilt of the pelvis.
When I work with a client to free the S-I joints I think of guiding them in three movements of the pelvis that goes through the S-I joints in the following directions: forward - backward, up - down (headward-foot ward), and rotational movements which either compress into the joint, or create more space within the joint. For example, if you rotate your right leg/hip joint internally (medially), you’ll open up the S-I joint space a little. Likewise, if your rotate your right leg/hip joint externally (laterally), you’ll close or compress the space within the S-I joint. All of these movements are part of the walking cycle.
There are many reasons the general area of the S-I joints become painful including slack ligaments; tight, contracted muscles; joint misalignment; poor posture; uneven weight distribution as we move; and more. In Hanna Somatics we focus on releasing tight, contracted muscles, which help align joints and promotes efficient posture and comfortable movement.
In the following videos I’ll demonstrate some somatic movements you can learn, and that I teach my clients and students in my classes. These movements are very helpful in releasing the contracted muscles and associated pain in the SI joints, pelvis, low back, hips, and groin.