Stuck! (A Magical Unsticker For Cranky S.I. Joints)

Compared to the average human, I am fairly bendy. I do lots of yoga. My body should be pain free, right?

But it wasn’t.

Most people would have probably just described it as low back pain but, being a fancified yoga-teacher-type, I could inform you that my right Sacroiliac Joint was stuck. The durned thing hadn’t budged in almost 2 years, and it hurt. Sometimes it hurt a lot.

No matter how many yoga poses I did, I couldn’t free up that pesky joint. In fact, I started to suspect that the more yoga I did, the more jammed it became. Secretly, I began to despair the injury would ever clear, and fear that I would have to live with it forever. Secretly, I started to hate my damned S.I.

I’d been applying Anusara’s™ powerhouse Universal Principles of Alignment–or so I thought!–dutifully sticking out my derriere in every pose, and spiraling my thighs back up the wazoo. It should have worked. But it didn’t. Nothing worked.

Finally, attending a yoga festival over the summer, unable to do poses I once practiced easily, I dissolved into tears of pain and frustration. Not only was I sick of hurting–I felt like a failure. Much as I intellectually knew in my head that nobody is 100% exempt from injury–not even certified Anusara yoga teachers–in my heart, I was ashamed. If I were a better teacher worth my salt, I wouldn’t be suffering from this pain. At least, that’s what a secret belief whispered in my ear.

My pal, therapeutic genius Zhenja La Rosa, happened to be at that very festival. I want to give her a shout out here for observing that my inner thigh muscles were not adequately hugging onto my thigh bones. That pointed me in the right direction. Since then, I have conducted further experimentation on my own mat, and in my classroom–where some students were also suffering from jammed S.I. joints.

In the Anusara tradition, optimal freedom, stability, and self-recognition are created in yoga poses by systematically applying a series of alignment principles in a sequential order. Those principles are constant, and applicable to every human body in every yoga pose. There is artistry in their application to individual bodies.

To summarize those principles in a nutshell:  the first instruction is to breathe, and consciously soften areas of unconscious gripping. Next, muscles are engaged in a more conscious way to create optimal stability. Bones are aligned by spiraling the inner thighs in, back and wide apart. Keeping the thighs back, a scoop of the tailbone creates length for the back body, and tone of the low belly. Those first 4 principles line up a pose. The 5th, and final, principle opens the pose up through active expansion–also known as stretch.

Lining up a human skeleton always entails moving the thigh bones to the back plane of the body. To make a long story really short, my S.I. Joint was stuck because the ligaments are lax, and the muscles of my outer hip too open–particularly on the side that was stuck. (It was the more flexible hip that was all jammed up. It usually is).

In spite of a huge curve in my low back, my thigh bones were popped way forward. Not only did that cause physical pain, it also signaled my nervous system that it should be prepared to run away from dinosaurs any second. Talk about enormous amounts of adrenaline pumping through my system!

The more I futilely stuck out my rear without first toning the upper inner thigh muscles onto the thigh bones, the less stability I had, and the less ability to move my thigh bones back. The ligaments got looser, which made the S.I. bones more likely to slip out of place and get stuck. That made my thighs more likely to move forward. Holy vicious cycle!

Nothing changed–until I realized I’d been confusing using toned inner thigh muscles to press my inner thighs back and apart with sticking my arse out! Once I stopped seesawing my heart forward and my rear back, and began using the muscles of my upper inner thighs to do the movement, the pain vanished almost immediately.

Indulge me while I type that sentence again for dramatic effect:  the pain vanished almost immediately! Wheeee!

Since I’ve been teaching toning the inner thigh muscles to take the thighs back, students whose S.I. joints were previously jammed have given equally dramatic reports of pain relief.  Also, since freeing up my own SI, I’ve unwittingly re-jammed it a couple of times while practicing deep backbends. Practicing the pose below from the upper inner thighs  has cleared the pain every single time. Total lifesaver!

Which is why I offer it to you. Mwuah.

Also, talk to me: has your S.I. ever been stuck?  Do you have magic tools for clearing it? Have you ever been ashamed about having a yoga injury? Leave a comment below.

Magic S.I. Unsticker

The Magic S.I. Unsticker is a variation on what’s sometimes called Lizard Pose.  Normally, the hips settle low to the ground and shift way forward toward the front of the mat, like this:

This variation below is deliberately different. Start by shifting your hips way back toward your back knee. Let’s say that 12 o’clock is directly in front of you. Keep your front foot, and your front knee, facing directly forward to 12 o’clock. Breathe deeply. Steady both legs. Maintaining that steadiness, press both shins in toward an imaginary line running down the center of your yoga mat. As you do this, your front knee will be prone to knock in toward the middle of your mat, toward 11 o’clock. Don’t let it.

Keeping your front foot and knee steadily forward, walk your hands and torso inside your front foot, and diagonally over to the left, to 11o’clock. Use the steadiness of your shins to access the muscles of your upper inner thighs. Hug them to the bones, and then use them to dramatically widen your inner thighs diagonally-back-behind-you, and apart from one another.

For Stage 2:  maintain all of the above as you lower to your forearms.

Scoop your tailbone and feel your belly get strong. From the core of your pelvis, grow your leg bones longer inside your legs, while simultaneously stretching out through the crown of your head to experience a deep and unbridled freedom.

4/18/13 UPDATE:  Read the second post in the S.I. series here.

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115 Responses »

  1. Thanks Bernadette! Am going to try this ASAP- my thighbones pop WAY far forward and have been trying everything to remedy it!

  2. Yes, yes yes! flexible yoga teacher with a stuck S.I. joint? You bet. Feeling stupid about it? Sure, why not.

  3. Hallelujah! Muscular energy in some lesser known, often forgotten part of my body has ALWAYS been the cause of my injuries or stickiness, of which I’ve had a LOT. Also, I have fallen down the shame spiral one too many times. Yes, teachers get hurt. To those I have told and judged I say, “Stop bulging eyes at me when I tell you my practice led to injury. Cuz, you know what? Injuries/mistakes happen when you are learning. My injuries have made me a better student and a more capable teacher, teaching me how to prevent them in my body and yours. Now, firm those freaking muscles!” Thank you for sharing your tale!

  4. Yay for unstuck S.I.! Love this pose, it feels so good!

    PS Humans and dinosaurs didn’t live at the same time, but got your point ;)

  5. So how long and how often do you recommend holding this pose….approximately how long was ‘almost immediately’? I have been suffering for a year and 1/2 with this.. I have had numerous chiropractic adjustments…researched and re-learned forward folding… I work on my core strength….and tried excruciating bouts of acupuncture. Actually stopping yoga for two weeks was the only thing that provided any relief?? That makes me sad.

    This post sums up my experience… exactly. I was never clear though on whether my SI joints were stuck…or overstretched. And neither was the chiro/acupuncturist or other yoga teachers. None of my yoga teachers ever talked about engaging thighs in forward folds!!!???

    • I recommend doing it often, every time you practice, and on the spot when your SI flares up. Hang out in the pose for at least 90 seconds. That diminishes or clears the pain for me, and I feel better either while in the pose or immediately afterward. Note that SI’s can get subluxed in various ways. Personally, my right side is the side that goes out. It is cleared by doing the above pose with my right foot forward. When dealing with a subluxed SI, the pain will be decreased or eliminated almost immediately when the bones move back into alignment. Anything diminishing the pain is a step in the right direction. Immediately cease and desist from ANYTHING that exacerbates the pain.

      Also, while you are flared, unless you can do them with your inner thighs steadfastly firing, avoid poses with a lot of abduction and lateral rotation like: Pigeon, Janu Sirsasana, and Baddha konasana. Twisting can be funky on the SI, too (although when done with Balanced Action it can also help).

      Work with an experienced teacher. Best of luck to you!

      • Bernadette, this was lovely. I am a yoga teacher in Toronto, Canada and I have had a chronic right hip pain. I know my right hip torcs forward a bit as well. Have not had it diagnosed by an expert, but doing the Lizard really helped. I have to do it more regularly for the fix to stick and will seek professional help to support my yoga practice. I practice Anusara Yoga myself because the 5 Principles of Alignment make so much sense for a safe yoga practice. Continued enjoyment in your journey. Namaste.

      • I have a sever loss of range of motion in my left hip. I have never done much yoga but tried it recently and it helps some but has not provided much relief. Now I’m wondering if there are issues similar to your locked SI joint going on. No orthopedic reasons (I had it checked), but I can’t even sit indian style. If I try to do warrior with left foot front end up getting a charlie horse in my left cheek (sorry, not my face) after about 10 seconds. Very frustrating and painful to do anything that adducts the left leg, especially with the knee falling to the outside (like sitting indian style).

        ANY suggestions would be sooo awesome.

  6. Thank you thank you thank you. I’ve been struggling with this for some time!

  7. “Less back, and more in and wide,” is my lesson recently (so exactly what you said, using the muscle energy of the inner thigh muscles to protect, rather than sticking my butt out), as I have a hamstring attachment tear on my ischium, and inner spiral the “old way” is really not helping. After a mandated two weeks off (that almost killed me and made me recognize I need to be cultivating the other “arms” of yoga more), I’ve been focusing on a practice that is not restrictive (in the sense of “I can’t do this because it will hurt my healing hamstring”), but positive, an affirmation, and inquiry: “What can I do that keeps me in the flow of the class, and then uses that flow of energy to open space around my injury, to bring healing energy into it, while being very very careful not to do anything that irritates it?” Obviously, muscle energy to protect is one aspect. Tailbone, outer spiral, is another. I’m discovering new ways to move that bring the flow into the attachment area too! What beautiful awareness is growing in that new sense of affirmation of healing through the practice, rather than limitation! So many amazing lessons, huh Bernie?

    • Yup, John, so many amazing lessons! I know that you will have been getting fantastic therapeutics from the local teachers but you reminded me about a hamstring strengthener that I particularly love, and that I often assign to students with hamstring injuries. I’ll write a post on it as soon as I can make the time. XO

  8. The level of frustration that a teacher can have while attempting to empower people to become aligned and pain-free, while being in pain themselves is debilitating. To honestly address it and empower other teachers to do the same is wonderful. I think at least 80% of teachers I know (myself included) deal with this. Can’t wait to get down on the mat and work my inner thighs!

  9. Thank you SO much! I can get a “curve” in my lower back like the best of them, but have still felt so much tenderness around my sacrum and feeling like nothings was widening or opening up, and just kept getting more compressed and more stuck. I totally can see where I forget the whole “muscular energy” UPA first, and thus am just sticking my bum out! I am really really looking forward to trying out the recommendations and exploring it! Awesome!

  10. so, just to clarify, its more toning-more squeezing towards the midline? im IN! and trying to get my stoopid left SI IN too! thanks B!

    • No–it is a muscle to bone action. Hug your leg muscles concentrically all around the thigh bones–but particularly at the upper inner thighs. This hugging in of Muscular Energy should precede drawing into the midline.

  11. You should ask Jenny Otto about her American in Paris sequence! Annie Hampford taught it to me and I think it’s magic… That and high lunge on a block tall-ways, also thanks to Annie Hampford’s wisdom!

  12. For me, it it doing down dog with more inner spiral on the side that is stuck. The pain/’stuckness’ I used to get involved an anterior tilt on the right side of my pelvis and posterior tilt in the left which created a shearing forced in then SI joint. I figured out how to clear it a little over a year ago at an Immersion after dealing with the paying for almost 10 years!

    • Can you explain how you “cleared it?” Thanks!

    • Please tell me how you cleared it. I have been with this problem for years and am just now starting to figure it out, but still stuck

    • Thanks Burnadete,
      I am trying to do the stretch. I’m not so flexible to get as far down as the little girl.
      I’m 54 years old. I have had pain in my left SI joint for some 20 years now. I always thought it was caused from my low back And a traffic accident 20 years ago, but during this last year I have read a lot on Internet and watched YouTube and found it is my SI joint and pelvis.
      What pushed me over the edge was I went to the foot doctor for plantar faciitis and he said I had a leg length Discrepancy. So he gave me a heel wedge in my right foot to try to fix it. It caused more and more pain in my left Si joint. So I went to a chiropractor he took an x-ray of my back. Oh my goodness! I had real bad scoliosis in my lumbar. The chiropractor said throw that heel wedge away! He tried to adjust me but he couldn’t. He said your pelvis is so out of alignment you need to go to physical therapy. I’ve been going to physical therapy for the past month, And it helps me a little. She works on my SI joint with myofascial release. She is able to free my SI joint some but she is not able to mobilize my right anterior tilted pelvis. And she says that’s the cause of my problem. Meanwhile she gives me core strengthening exercises. I have watched Erik Dalton’s videos on how he performs an ilio sacral alignment. And that seems to makes so much sense. the problem is I live in a small town in New Mexico and can’t get anyone to perform this.
      I tried the stretch this morning, we will see how it works I’m still very tender in that area. I am getting very frustrated, I feel like I’m a fairly strong man, And I was fairly active, But now I’m starting to feel pretty old locked in this Situation of pelvis, low back, and SI joint problems.

  13. This couldn’t have come at a better moment. I have been struggling with this (again) for weeks! Frustration? You bet. I have been doing Anusara for years, and after immersions, and half of the teacher trainings, I’ve still been struggling with this from an old injury that I’m sure damaged the ligaments when I was a child. Your description describes perfectly what I have been experiencing. THANKS FOR ANOTHER ANUSARA “A-HA!” moment!

    My instructor (Sri Ekan) is always saying, thighs back…thighs back…and trying to help me, but your EXPERIENCE of this personally somehow is getting through to me.

    Michelle Alley, M.S., L.M.T., A.P, RYT-200

  14. Thanks for your generous and articulate post adding so much to the SI conversation.

  15. I really do appreciate your post here…. I have been in back pain about a decade now, and in the last 4 or so years, I’m pretty sure I’ve had a stuck Right S.I. joint…. although chiropractor upon chiropractor, and orthopedic, and spine specialist, and physical therapist could not name it for me, nor help me to make lasting, healing corrections. I too have the lax ligament thing going on, and I imagine those inner thigh muscles are not hugging adequately on my thigh bones, as you said in your experience… I think they’re mighty weak. I actually came to yoga in the midst of pain, and found relief (several years back), and seeking this long-term maintenance and pain relief decided to pursue certification, which I now have acquired (200 hr CYT)…. however the ongoing pain and dysfunction is a mental struggle as well as a physical one, and the continual search for answers and solutions has exhaustively taken over any ‘spare’ time I have (which the majority of is spent on the floor, avoiding the non-supportive couch and destructive sitting positions, aching, or trying to fix my wedged out hip and s.i. alignment). It was good to read your comments about hugging the upper inner thigh muscles, concentrically, around the thigh bones…. I’ve begun bringing my awareness to this specifically and am wondering if there are specific things I can do to really work on strengthening these muscles and this particular foremost muscle action, re-training my body mechanics? Thank you, again, for everything you posted here… I had to read it to my husband because it was so, in almost every facet of your experience- even as a yoga teacher, what I have been dealing with and searching for understanding about.

  16. Friends! Listen to me please, you amazing group of talented people. I have dealt with ligament laxity in pelvis causing si joint instability for 7 years! I am 30 years old and have spent the last year on the right track. First: investigate, research, then participate in PROLOTHERAPY from a well-experienced doctor. This is truly the only treatment that will permanently heal a chronic, painful case. It’s NATURAL, and it fits within what we know about our body’s ability to heal. Second: find a talented manual physical therapist and stop the chiropractic adjustments, as they further loosen weak ligaments. Third: don’t contribute to the hypermobility in your hips or low back. The over-stretching will further lock up a loose and unstable joint. Think of a bike chain when it falls off of the track. It’s loose, thus it jams and catches. Fourth: learn how to keep your si joint in a closed position while you heal. Use and si belt until ligaments are thick and elastic after prolotherapy. Fifth: email me with questions. I can’t bare the thought of other women going through the pain and frustration that I have. I would love to continue to share. With love and concern,
    Andrea

    • I have had about 7 sessions of prolo, love my doctor, and had PRP one year ago. It served me well through a year full of much mandatory sitting. Now, however, that I am able to be more actiive, my problem always arises after I’ve engaged in physical activity and then am force to sit for a spell. The problem usually rears its ugly head when I’m completely off guard, like getting out of a chair or a car. There is only some mild twinging when I strain my joint, but my muscles completely lock up and have to walk aroud like an upside -down letter L for a day or so. I continue to learn more about dealing with this, but I am confused about stretching since my joint is hypermoble, yet muscle tightness seems to contribute to another incident. I would appreciate your guidance!

      Thanks!

      !Jody

      • Andrea/Jody, any more news since then? I’m dealing with something similar I think, can’t tell if it is stuck or loose or both! Does prolo work long term?

    • Can you please tell me more about this

    • Andrea, your info. about prolo therapy was encouraging. How many treatments did you have? How long before you felt your ligaments were responding to the treatment?

      Thanks…kris

    • Hi,

      I injured my SI joint 3 days before delivering my 2nd child, this was 9 years ago. I had a 3rd child almost 4 years ago and have been in PT, etc…for over a year now to try to stabilize the joint. I am in the middle of my first yoga teacher training . Sunday morning before class, my SI felt great, I went dancing the night before and some how that helped it settle. Then we began the clinic on deep twists, my SI flipped out. My teacher helped me un-stick it, then we began to practice teaching each other the twists and revolved standing poses. Something deep inside me released, tears flowed, and I could not find words to explain to my fellow students/ teachers in training, how to begin to twist, I drew a blank, due to the pain it caused me to just think getting into one of those asanas. After class my instructor taught me this posture. I feel it is almost back in place, but it aches, I feel “the shame’ of not being able to do these poses with out pain. Like I may “fail” out of my first 200 hour teacher program!!! How humiliating! I am very flexible, and realizing that I am not able to extend with out causing pain and damage, is hard for me to accept. Any recommendations for practitioners of prolotherapy or what ever works “yoga” therapy, would be welcomed. Thanks for these posts! Melissa

  17. Hi.
    My SI joint has become my worst enemy. I’m told Not to do yoga because my ligaments are way too loose to begin with, I have EDS. My hips can both slide in and out of socket at any moment whether standing, laying down (even while sleeping), sitting (often while driving) and a few times while walking. I’m pretty sure this instability has caused my SI joint to jam, or stick into a locked position. For 12 years now, since the birth of my daughter I’ve been rolling around on the floor trying to release the tension that sometimes painfully involves my sciatica, to boot!

    What I’ve found is that deep breathing, and frantically rolling about helps. Sounds crazy, but the same stretch doesn’t help me every time. In fact, the ONLY thing that works without fail is a full diaphragm.
    Am I weird?
    I will incorporate your stretch into my ever expanding routine. Thank you for the description.

    • There is no one cure-all. This just happens to work a good percent of the time for me. You might want to consider stabilizing exercises. Run it past your doctor first. XOB

  18. hi this is a great blog, i had a pain in my leg I feel like I have a stucked joint or muscle in between my pelvis bone i think we had the same problem, i Hope that this exercise will ease the pain, thank you so much! more yoga poses! :)

    -April

  19. amazing! i just did it just now! and wow! feels like miracle the pain isnt here anymore! thanks a lot!

  20. OMG! My sacrum has been stuck for over a month. It has been three visits to the chiro and the simple act of standing in Tadasana and internally rotating my thighs unlocked my sacrum! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Now, I know what to really work on.

  21. Great stuff, cannot wait to get up and try this. Have SI injury for 17 years, sometimes good, sometimes stuck; stress worsens it more than anything. Walking on soft sand or earth helps, Treadmills are terrible.
    I did learn an exercise that helps a lot from stupid infomercial called “Brazilian Butt” it is not yoga, but isolates one interior connective muscle from sacrum to greater trocantor / hip ball that has helped me tremendously- never mind the infomercial’s goal.
    Stand with hand support if needed, raise one leg out to your side, knee bent until perpendicular to floor, or as high as you comfortably can, then rotate raised leg to directly behind you, keeping raised. Once directly behind you, pivot joint to slowly lower leg, then raise again, return to side posture, raise and lower and repeat without putting foot on ground until you tire. Do 5 reps and work up to 10 or 15 per side. This really helps to strengthen hip ligaments and stabilize S.I. joint, if this ligament was weak.
    I hope this makes sense. It is raise leg to side, move to directly behind you, pivot hip to be able to lower and then raise extended leg about 45′, pivot hip again to return leg to side, raise and lower at side 45′, then rotate back, pivot hip, and so on.

  22. Oh my! I sure wish somebody could help me figure out my low back/hip/upper leg muscle pains. I would do just about anything for help :( Los Angeles, CA

  23. My right SI joint locked up recently. I could hardly walk, work, ride my bike, or get vertical after being horizontal! I have a good physical therapist (PT) who did an excellent assessment and unlocked my SI joint. Pain subsided instantly and with renewed determination, I have been doing the stretches from my PT. Yet, I thought that there was probably more that I could do. I knew there had to be someone experienced in Yoga who had addressed this problem. An internet search brought me to your blog. Thanks for the pictures and descriptions or the stretches. Your stretches are great addition to my therapy. I am back on my bike and hope to make it back to my yoga class this week.

  24. Any way you could post or send or link me to a video of this so I can get it right?

  25. Help having major si joint problem for months. Going to PT Chiropractor and a spine orthopedic now still in pain

  26. I could just kiss u – maybe even with tongue – LOL

    Maybe overshare…but your post really helped my after over a year of pain.

    I stopped going to Yoga because sometimes I felt worse – but after doing this move it really made a huge difference in my recovery.

    First, I’m 6’2″ and 220 lb athletic build and after 1 year of shots and other standard medicine I have an add on to help all of you.

    1. I agree on Ozone therapy to the SI Joint. I am currently in Playa del Carmen Mexico where i met a chiro who said “ozone” injection. and they are only $50. Ozone is free and cheap and it works to aid in the healing process.

    2. DONT miss this: “Water Walking” – get waste high or more in the water and walk as fast as you can. Try it. The resistance of walking or jogging in the water will blow away any pt exercises.

    3. The magical unsticker: when your having a bad day do the stretch in this article. Its like a reset move.

    for those of you really bad…sleep on your side on hard surface with pillow wedged high up between the legs.

    Everyone is different but this si joint unsticker move has become part of my rehab and works

  27. I am a professional track and field runner for Nike. I have not run (and therefore worked) in 2 weeks because of hip pain. This stretch cleared me up in 10 min. THANK YOU. For real. I can race next weekend!

  28. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I am 19 weeks pregnant and have been battling SI joint pain for a few weeks. I reinjured my back this morning while trying to move a car seat (really stupid idea) and as a result I could literally not walk and couldn’t place weight on my right pelvis. While wallowing in my pain and discomfort I came across your website and I tried the stretches and now I can walk after just doing it once. I think it allowed me to put my SI back into place because I could tell my pelvis was completely out of alignment.
    I’m not pain free, but the fact that I can walk is huge! So again, thank you!

  29. I have had si joint issues for six years now and this is the first time I have ever read anything that suggests working on upper thigh muscle strength. I have tried just about every avenue to achieve relief but I have been unsuccessful in keeping my joint stable. I wonder if you could tell me how I might find out what exercises work best in this instance. I am so grateful to have found your site. Thank you so much. Also, do you know of anyone in the Los Angeles area that might be of help with joint issues?

  30. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you! I am not into yoga (although its clear I should be) but I stumbled across this post in a desperate search for a way to eliminate SI pain. I tried them all with little relief. Thanks to your post even someone that can’t come close to hitting the floor like the images can get much needed relief. If you missed it up front… Thank you!

  31. Working in pain management for years. I have found this to be the best maneuver to get you SI joint back in place. Lay on your back with knees bent and feet flat. Next .. Have someone try to pull your knees apart while you try to bring them together hold this for 10 seconds and repeat if necessary. Additionally, in same position on your back raise the leg and bend the knee of the side that’s “out” have someone hold and push your leg toward you while you push toward them with your leg and repeat. Then stand up. You should feel relief right away. Keep in mind you will probably be sore from being out of alignment , but that sharp pain of the displaced SI joint should be gone. If not.. Repeat

  32. Hi Bernadette–I have been experiencing SI joint pain for a longgg time now and have been doing yoga for the past year, which has helped a lot…but I seemed to be a little jammed up again and can’t get unstuck :( Do you know of anyone in the Chicago area I could turn to for some help? Thanks so much, I really appreciate it!

    Emily

  33. Bernadette, thank you so much. In just one post, you both diagnosed and treated my year-long mystery!

    When I asked my yoga instructor for any asanas that could help this constant discomfort that I suspected was related to the SI joint, he actually told me to see a doctor! What?

    So before doing that, I researched (and tried) some DIY SIJ adjustments, which is how I found your post online. Am I glad I did — you weren’t kidding about near-instant relief! Also, immediately, my gait and posture noticeably changed. So I will continue using your “magic trick” to help correct my overall alignment as well as manage that rogue SIJ!

    Thanks again!!

  34. I could just hug you. I am 27 years old, and I have had low back and leg pain that has been almost debilitating at times. I eventually ruptured a disc in my lower back and underwent surgery, but I noticed that after surgery my leg still felt stuck into my pelvis. I was an avid golfer before this injury and after surgery and over a year of rehab was still afraid to get back out on the course and re-injure myself. I still felt pain on the top front of my right leg (and less in my back after surgery), and raising my knee from a standing position triggered the pain in that spot. I also had pain that ran down the back of my leg from the top of my butt to the side of my knee and down into my foot (typical sciatica pain).

    I came across your website looking for ways to get “unstuck.” I always felt like this stuck feeling was an underlying problem that probably caused my disc to rupture and was continuing to cause the pain described above. Wow. When I successfully got into the yoga position above (which took a few tries), I felt a release that sent chills through my body. I just want to say thank you.

    Also, there is a variation of this pose that I found works very well for me and is easy to get into. I start by lunging forward similar to the move you describe but keep my back leg straight with my knee of the ground. My front two hands are on the ground on either side of my front foot after the lunge. From that position, I stretch the hip flexors while keeping my hips back and do the same squeeze of the shins/inner thighs to midline (12 o’clock), but I keep the squeeze in this position light. Then, and this is the real magic, I slowly push off with my hands and front foot (but keep my hands or at least fingers on the floor) and really squeeze both legs/shins toward midline as I straighten the leg of my forward foot. This brings my legs into a scissor position, and it is a stretch I used to do to mainly for hamstrings.

    Once again, wow. The release I get by squeezing toward midline while doing this motion is incredible. It feels like my pelvis just eases back into place.

    Thank you again.

  35. Oh and I almost forgot, the pain left the front of my leg and the pain running down the back and side of my leg is continuing to dissipate. I have played golf a few times now, with no pain while playing or the days following.

    I just wish I had learned this technique about 7 years ago!

  36. I am very glad to have stumbled across this site after googling “stuck SI joint”. Long story short, I am a dancer and I have been experiencing extreme lower back pain for about a year and a half and have gone to every type of doctor and specialist you can think of to find the source of the problem. The problem also involves severe lower abdominal pain and muscle spasms and I have even had surgery because they thought the issue was adhesions or yet more ovarian cysts or endometriosis. I recently started seeing an osteopath and he seemd to know what the issue is and says he sees it quite frequently in fact. It has to do with the fascia around my internal organs that has squeezed and pulled my skeletal system in all the wrong directions and he has done some manipulations/adjustments to my hips and spine along with some myofascial release massage. This has helped a bit, but recently it became worse and he said it was a “stuck” SI joint and he did a manipulation to release it. It feels a bit better now, but if there is a stretch I can do to prevent this, I will do it!!

    Sorry, that was not a “long story short”, but my question is (and this may sound stupid, but I do not want to do it wrong) what side should the stretch be done on if the SI joint issue is on the LEFT side? What “side” is shown in the photos here?

    Thanks so much for any information!

    • So glad to make your virtual acquaintance. (:

      In my experience it is the S.I. on the front leg that is often helped by this lunge. So, in this photo, the right S.I. However, use your own experience as your guide. If you do this lunge on both sides, and one side hurts and the other makes the pain go away, then that is your answer. S.I. pain vanishes almost immediately when the joint is aligned in its proper position. So when working with stuck S.I.immediately discontinue anything that exacerbates pain in the joint. If something alleviates the pain then stay with it.

      • Thank you so much for your reply. I actually did try both sides yesterday (before I read your response) and it did seem to help, although I wasn’t sure which side of the stretch “helped” at that point. I felt almost pain-free today actually, so hopefully this will be part of the solution to a long-term problem I have been having. :) Thanks again!

  37. Thanks so much for your postings. I love yoga but due to SI joint jamming issues I gave it up a month ago. I’ve been doing TONS of Physio, chiropractic adjustments, core exercises but so far I don’t see any improvements. Luckily for me my pain/stiffness is only in the mornings. This morning I was going through the usual agony of feeling 100 years old and I came across your blog. Out of desperation I tried your stretches and I felt a ton of relieve. I was thinking that I got hurt because of doing yoga but now I am dying to get back into it. THANKS so much!!!

  38. Thank you!
    I will try this and reply again later.
    My chiro has been not always successful in popping out my left SI joint – sometimes by accident it pops out – sometimes I get releief when he pulls on my leg while I hang on the table from the top. Twisting actions get some relief but not much.
    When my chiro DOES have success it feels like I have a NEW LEG supporting my body!!! and I rejoice for about 2 days and it reverts.
    I badly need some way to do this myself, it’s been Y-E-A-R-S that this has been bugging me. My former massage therapist could not help me either.
    Thank you
    /Pete

  39. i am in so much pain i don’t think i can get on the floor …this has been a problem since i was a freshman in college 23 years ago.. right now my SI hurts so bad …it makes my ovary hurt & i want to THROW up.

  40. Does this stretch stretch tight psoas muscles and other muscles that get tight from sitting a lot? I twist to play guitar a lot (seated) and one leg works better than the other now and my hips are off a little, twisting me to the left a bit when I walk. I’ve heard that means one leg is jammed up.

  41. It worked. Have been looking for solutions for a long time. Many thanks!

  42. Hello,
    My chiropractor often tells me of my stuck SI joint. I do lots of stuff, cycling, gym, tai chi and kung fu, pilates and dancing and in the past only dabbled a bit with yoga. I have been suffering a quite a lot to a varying extent over the past month with a bad back after suffering with a tummy upset. Today my back “went again” low down in the left hand SI area and that was just bending over to help my wife put on her dancing shoe! She has back trouble also. I found your article with this stance and tried it and I can hardly believe the benefit. It’s a bit like having seen my chiropractor and he’s fixed the joint. Thanks so much for sharing this.
    Regards,
    Richard

  43. Hi BB,

    Can you explain the nuances of firing the inner thigh muscles while widening? For instance, what actions in the feet make this possible? I am also studying with an Anusara teacher and so I do my best to get my thighs back and widen.

    My SI Joint only hurts in Urdhva Mukha Svanansana and Ustrasana, which has me so confused, because back bending is supposed to help the SIJ. No pain in forward folds, however every time I do up dog or camel, pain lingers for hours, sometimes days. Until last month, never had any trouble with these postures either.

    My chiropractor keeps adjusting me weekly, but I cannot back bend without pain.

    Please help!
    Elizabeth

    • What we should be after is toning the adductors, and only taking the thighs back in instances where they are thrust forward. So, not everyone needs to take their thighs bace; some thighs are already back. If all we do is give the instruction, “stick it out,” then there is no inner thigh (adductor) action at all: that is just flexion of the hip. Unfortunately, Inner Spiral is often taught as hip flexion.

      I really like the instruction, “Tone your upper inner thighs and use them to turn your inner thighs back.” It will be subtle though–no dramatic poking out of the backside required. The anterior adductors can play some role in medial rotation of the femur due to the angle of their origin and insertion, but they don’t necessarily if they’re too sleepy. If you have a good skeleton and pull the pubic origin of the Adductor Magnus muscle toward its insertion at the Linea Aspera, you will see the medial rotation.

      It would be hard to say definitively without actually seeing your practice but it sounds like perhaps you need to do more elongation of the sacrum/tailbone? And more powerfully rooting out through the lines of the leg bones? I would give that a try and see if how it feels and whether it seems to be pointing in the right direction.

  44. Something I’ve seen a lot in yoga (and been a poster victim of) is instructors trying to force upon practitioners the book form of a pose. The way it usually goes is after the habitual “listen to your body” disclaimer and the random new agey talk about love and light, the pushing starts (“one inch lower, one inch lower..”).

    The fact is that, whether you just got your 200 hr certification of have been teaching for decades, you cannot know what’s really happening inside someone’s body just from looking at it from the outside. One can bend from all the wrong places, using all the wrong muscles, and still look decent if that’s the way they’ve been moving their whole lives.

    To really get an accurate picture, I’d say one needs either access to sophisticated medical technologies, or the cultivation of internal awareness of the muscles in movement. For the SI joint, observe your walk, first in a mirror, then from the inside. Touch your body in movement, see what’s contracting, relaxing. Slow down your normal walk as much as you can without trying to change anything.

    When you get an idea of the overall pattern you employ in your everyday walking, break it down into manageable segments and start working on gaining awareness of the muscles involved (under tension, while doing the movement as you usually do it).

    Study anatomy. Once you have a muscle under control, slowly start using it for doing whatever action that muscle is supposed to do, and nothing else.

    If you do the above and then come back to your usual yoga practice, you may be very surprised how different the poses feel ! Also, never go for the biggest range of motion ( ie ‘one inch lower’). If one keeps increasing mobility in the lower back (by insisting on bending until they touch their toes, floor etc ), the body will automatically reduce movement in areas that should be mobile, such as hips and the thoracic spine.

  45. I haven’t done any of these stretches yet but am willing to try anything. I have been suffering from a stuck si joint since about 19 or 17 years ago. I couldn’t stand without being in pain and went to a chiropractor who only made the problem worse by over adjusting me. It has effected every aspect of my life from a short fuse to lack of concentration. 3 years ago I started bikram yoga and it helped a ton and after a year of doing bikram and doing dead lifts and other core exercises I was finally cured. I didn’t even know what was wrong I just knew the pain and discomfort was debilitating. Finally after all the work and my spine cracking and repositioning itself there was a pop in my lower back and I felt a rush of blood go through my right leg and a ton of mobility immediately following. I was able to get deeper into postures, my spine was straight I felt like a new person. I broke my wrist snowboarding and wasn’t able to do yoga for 4 months or so and I regressed into the same position I was in before I started yoga. I feel like there is an easier route to take other than a year of bikram to get this thing right again. How often are you supposed to do these stretches and how long do you hold them for. Btw I would have paid thousands for somebody to diagnose and show me exercises and stretches to get the si back to normal. It doesn’t seem as though there are clinics or any type of therapist that can help with the si problem. Thanks for posting this BB

  46. Thank you so much for this post….I found this online at 2:30 in the am in terrible pain and so glad I did! I have suffered on and off with SI pain on the right for several years and now feel I can apply this techniqe any time is rears its ugly head again! With so much gratitude in Toronto!

  47. Absolutely wonderful! I am starting PT on Tuesday for my incredibly painful SI these yoga poses were awesome….I felt a large pop on the outside of my glute on affected side during pose 2 was that the si joint. I feel some relief but I have been in so much pain for a year I am sore and inflamed all around so I can’t tell?

  48. This pose saved my life. Eight weeks ago after some extreme uphill walking on a treadmill I woke up the next day in the worst pain of my life. My lower back was totally locked up. It was almost impossible to bend, straighten, sit, walk or do just about anything except lay out in my lazy boy without total excruciating pain. I went through chiropractic treatment, was on muscle relaxers, anti-inflammatory meds and pain pills. Nothing helped. My whole world became just getting through a day at work so I wouldn’t lose my job. I went 7 weeks without smiling or laughing and had a permanent grimace on my face. I didn’t recognize the person I saw in the mirror. I had given up hope and was considering the unthinkable just to end the pain. I did a ton of research and one thing that fit my symptoms was a stress fracture of the sacrum. I went through ER and had a CT scan and that was negative. That left the SI joint as the probable cause. I found several maneuvers that were supposed to un-stick the SI joint but they were not working. Then I found this site. The first time I tried this pose I was in so much pain and on so much medication I couldn’t do it properly, so I set the pages I had printed aside and tried other things. A couple of weeks later I tried it again after carefully reading the instructions and focusing on all the muscles you mention and POP. The greatest sound and feeling I have ever experienced. Immediately I had 70% relief and for the first time in 7 weeks I could bend over. It was totally amazing. My chiropractor had worked hard on my SI joint and could not get it to move. Nothing could get it to budge until this pose. It was locked up for so long that I’ve had to pop it out a couple of times since and the inflammation and tight muscle it caused are still working out, but I have my life back. I hope to get back to the gym in a week or so after a vacation. I have never tried yoga and had no concept what it was really all about. You saved a total novice with this post. There must be so many more people suffering the same pain and hopelessness that would benefit so much from this knowledge. It is such a shame that the medical profession can be so ignorant some times. Thank you so much and the best of luck to you.

  49. I am so glad I came across this page, I have suffered pain on and off for last 6 years. I was in severe pain when I found this exercise and have never done yoga in my life however I was in so much pain I thought I will give it a go. I put ipad on the floor and followed the exercise oh it was strenuous and a bit painful but a good painful as it was also giving relief. Thank you thank you thank you.

  50. Thank you so much for this post and exercise, as well as the follow-up post and exercise for “unsticking” the SI joint. I am definitely going to try these, and pray they provide me with some relief.

    I am 41, have left lumbar scoliosis – not extreme, but enough to have filled the last thirteen years of my life with pain, frustration, and chiropractor’s fees. Chiropractics seems to be less effective now for dealing with the scoliosis and resulting problems with the SI joint, and I am really starting to feel desperate. I am so grateful that you have provided some alternative ideas to dealing with this kind of pain.

    If you have additional exercises or techniques for dealing with scoliosis and/or SI joint pain/stiffness, please do share them! :)

  51. I confess that I don’t really understand the descriptions of what the muscles should be doing…so I am not having much luck getting any relief from the position. I can make myself look like the pictures but apparently since I am not very experienced with yoga, all those descriptions like “hug them to the bones” and “widen your inner thighs diagonally back behind you” just don’t work for me. Can you help? A video would be awesome but even some just plain language instruction would be appreciated. I have chiropractic adjustments every other week and it hurts like mad, then I’m okay for a day or two. I spend long hours on airplanes (travel internationally for work) and find that even my new adjustable air bed doesn’t help. :(

  52. OMG! This works! THANK YOU SO MUCH.
    I was in pain most of the afternoon, and just now went to a quiet conference room and got on the floor and released my left side!
    Walking and sitting is once again pleasant.
    I’ll have to show this move to my Chiropractor.
    Now if I can figure out how to never lock it up again …
    Almost time for a nap :-)
    Thank you again,
    /Pete

  53. Oh.my.god…!!!

    i have been struggling with destabilised SI joints (and the guilt of being a yoga teacher in pain) since my pregnancy.

    Last week I had a terrible flare up. I just tried the posture and, yes, I can attest. Instant release!!!

    i will be following your posts closely!

    Thank you for sharing!!!!!
    namaste

  54. Thank you so much for figuring this out! I have been in physical therapy 2-3 times a week for 6 weeks due to an SI joint injury. I am hyperflexible, which is what has been keeping me from healing properly, and keeping me in pain. Tonight I was in so much pain after work, I turned to the internet for help, and this is the only time I have had relief that quickly. I’m not one to practice yoga (or anything right now) but I think I need to start!

  55. Relief and sanity after so much pain!
    Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!

  56. I had this problem with my first pregnancy in the very beginning before the belly formed. I didn’t really notice it until it cause so much irritation that it inflamed my back muscles causing my spine to curve. So I went to physical therapy. They adjusted the joint and then showed me exercises to do. This pregnancy I decide Yoga would help. Which is great! Haven’t had that extreme pain like last time. But since i know the pain I still feel the pain. Some days worse than others. I am 32 weeks now and for the past month or so it has gotten worse, causing shooting pains in my leg as well. Can i do your yoga poses while i am pregnant?

  57. I am sooo glad to have found this article!
    I injured my back about three months ago, and I have been miserable since. My SI joint is stuck and no matter what I do, it keeps going back to being stuck. The real kicker though is that it gets so stuck that it makes one of my legs slightly longer than the other, so it throws off my whole body alignment. As a result., the muscles on one side of my lower back are so stinking tight, at times they are even sore to the touch, and also causing shooting pains in my legs. Three times a week I’ve had visits with the Chiropractor, Massage Therapist and Physical Therapy. I was also seeing an acupuncturist for a while too. Granted, all of the therapy and the extra yoga I have been doing have definitely helped, but I’m still not 100%. It’s really discouraging and frustrating. I just want to get back to my normal activities!! I tried this stretch today, and I did notice a slight difference. It wasn’t a major difference, but I’m hoping if I implement this stretch into my normal routine maybe I can get rid of the problem. Does anyone have anymore suggestions for helpful yoga poses?

  58. Is there a way for you to do this in a video. Just don’t want to hurt myself doing it wrong. I have been doing stretches by given to me by a Chiropractor and it has helped. Yet since the ligaments are loose I have an issue.

    The stretches helped but I need to do more to hold it in place. The right side of my body is weak from operations to my right foot.

    So can you please do this in a step by step video I beg you. Wished you were near me I would be in your class getting instruction on how to do it. Maybe that’s a thought a video streaming live class do you have that. I know so many who would love to do that. I cannot walk far and it is bothering my sciatic. Thank You.

  59. Hi there,
    You talked about your stuck SI joint causing your nervous system to pump the adrenaline. I find this really interesting, and wanted to ask for more details, if possible- how does it work?
    The reason I ask – in as short of a description as I can manage: When I did an x-ray for my pelvic “freeze”, I was told there is osteoarthritis in my SI joint. (Im 38 yo female with 2 kids). I did a little physiotherapy – didn’t help. I did a little hot yoga – hope to come back to it soon.

    However, I’ve developed a very weird pattern of sweating during heat OR stress (at the very base of my spine, just above the butt). It now also “moved up” to lower back, around the spine..I even feel sometimes the adrenaline rushing for NO REASON, and my fingertips would moisten.
    This has NEVER happened before. I’ve seen a few dermatologists, and was told the sweating part is hyperhidrosis (no known cause) and to use prescription antipersp. It is completely ruining my life for 1.5 yrs now.

    Im planning to see a chiro for my SI, and when I read about their philosophy, I thought maybe the sweating is somehow connected to the SI joint being “mis-aligned”? Your comment about the adrenaline falls within the same theory, no? Please let me know, i’m desperate here!!! Thanks so much!

  60. I suffer a bit from a slightly subluxed sacroiliac joint. I was glad to find a short article in a copy of Yoga News from 5 years ago that recommended the following easy-to-explain, if not so easy-to-do exercise.

    Lie prone (stomach down) on a firm surface with arms straight out in front of head and lift arms, torso and legs off the floor. Look straight down. Your body takes the shape of the bottom of a rocking horse. Aim to hold legs together. Over time, you will be able to increase the distance you can raise arms and legs.

    My SI joint has stabilized nicely. Whew…

  61. Bernardette,
    Thanks for the post. I also have S.I joint instability (and pain) an i´m also yoga teacher, and professional dancer (now not dancing any more). I´m dealing with pain for two years and a half now and tried many therapies. Prolotherapy helped me at the beginning but gave me a lot of pain and i decided after 5 sessions to change treatment. Now i´m trying with a new osteopath that works organs and energy blocks. Hope to be in the right path. I´ll try the pose you suggests, very carefully, i feel stretching worsen the situation many times. If you have more suggestions on the S.I will be very welcome, i see we are many with this problem.
    Wish all the best! (and sorry for my english)…

  62. I am not sure that I get your exercise. Can you post a youtube of it? I am very visual and you are explaining it all with words. I really need to release my SI joint and would appreciate the visual.

    Thanks!

  63. Amazing! Was on the verge of asking my doctor for an x-ray as I was so fed up with the constant (albeit mildish) pain. Did your stretch a week ago, stood up and the pain had gone! And what’s more – it hasn’t come back! So pleased – and if it does come back I know what to do. Thank you SO much.

  64. I came across your site just a few days ago. Let me tell you my story, I’ll try to be brief.
    Many years ago, when I was just a lad, I fell off a horse in a thunderstorm and was dragged along the ground at a gallop, just like some movie stunt man with his leg stuck in the stirrup. Fast forward a few years to a wet and windy night when I lifted a huge log of walnut onto the back of a trailer..a few days later, when playing rugby, the scrum collapsed on me. What was mild discomfort had become excruciating pain. Over the following years I have suffered so many other injuries and problems including being unable to walk for six months, in part I think, caused by my SI joint being out. I am a bit of an active fellow, having spent the last 30 years as professional mountaineering instructor and have carried this injury through several falls on the mountain and a head on collision in my car. I have spent thousands on “recuperative therapies”. For some years I was an avid yoga fanatic. Nothing so far has given me any relief and at times it reduces me to tears. I have tried all sorts of things to remove this nagging dull pain. Chiropractors, osteopaths, acupuncturists etc. have all tried to free me from this in the past. I am still stuck with it.
    I have tried your pose, but I just cannot seem to get into the right position without causing discomfort. Have you discovered any other ways to deal with this, I wonder?
    P.s. Lovely blog!

  65. Hi Bernadette,

    I wanted to share a stretch that works for me to get my SI joint back in. It works best in the morning, when relaxed, or after a hot tub (and try to do it gently!), but this is what I do:

    I lie face down in the middle of our queen size bed. I hook a foot on either side of the bed and then turn my hips from side to side equally. Hope this helps others.

    Love your site! Thank you,

  66. Hi, my name is Matt and here is my story. 3 months ago I hurt my lower back really bad. A 100 pound item was dropped and while it was in my hands pulled me down and to the right. I felt a deep stretch sensation and I started to limp on my right side pretty much right away. Gradually all these issues started. Muscle twitching in leg, pelvis felt like it was on fire and twisted( I actually notice my pelvic bone on the right side sticks out of my back more than my left) , lower back tightening up, and sharp nerve pain in lower back and legs. I went from hiking mountains and running 5 miles a day to barely even making it around my house without crutches and in pain…. So much agony. I actually went to the hospital the other day because I collapsed and my pelvis started to spasm and it was the worst pain I had ever felt. I have done much research on myself and diagnosed my problem as a Sacroiliac joint sprain. My right pelvis kind of pops out in back now so I dont know if this excersie will help me? Will this help with a posterior tilt of the pelvis? It seems that this would be the opposite direction my legs should be going since the ligaments are stretched that are injured. Would this move help in my case?

  67. Miraculous! My daughter is a chiropractor and is constantly trying to alleviate my stuck S.I. joints and this pose took my back pain away immediately. Bless you :)

  68. Hi Bernadette,
    I’m also an SI yoga person, I have a great PT who can help me to be pain free, for a few days… but I was also looking for a pose to help. I also tend to over-arch my lower back, and am not as strong as I am flexible. I also had a nasty fall down stairs and certainly more than something tore, this is when it began. My understanding though is that the ongoing pain is because of hypermobility of the joint, not exactly sticking, but excessive movement. I practice Iyengar, a cousin of Anusara… but have found, like you and many commenters, that yoga can definitely make my SI joints (it switches sides) hurt more.

    The trick is that many of the poses I’m good at seem to free up the SI area too much, and allow a painful shift to a bad position… many of the hip openers seem to be doing more harm than good. I’ve had to start over recently, starting with standing poses, the warriors and triangles, and being mindful of engaging all the muscles of the thigh while tucking the tailbone. I stopped forward bends, especially those where the iliac crest is fixed while the sacrum is pulled forward, for 2 months, which helped a lot too. I think I need to be much stronger. I’ve been told that continuing to stretch improperly will continue to stretch the ligaments and lead to more instability. I’ve also been told that the only ‘cure’ is surgery to shorten the ligaments, but I hope that I’m not so far down that road that I can’t compensate through my practice.

    It’s a painful thing, but a challenge is good, right? It allows us to learn more about our resolve and strength. It brings our understanding more deeply into the practice. And ouch. I find it very frustrating to re-think all of these poses that have become so comfortable, to have to scan my pelvis and back and stomach and thighs every moment, but if it helps, and I can keep doing yoga, that’s excellent. I do get some relief from the first pose you recommended, the second makes it worse, I assume one helps if you have slipped one direction, the other for the opposite slip… I wonder.

    Still learning, and taking some advice on forward bends that surprised me. Practicing Mula bandha with my forward bends seems to help me keep the proper alignment. I know that in beginner classes, releasing the pelvic floor is important to learn, but over-release seems to cause issues with more advanced practitioners… balance in all things. I have been forgetting that.

  69. Thank you Bernadette, your technique worked wonderfully for me.

    I discovered that sitting for long periods, especially in a old favorite chair which I found out later had two broken springs, and any sort of rough ride while sitting, too soft of a mattress or lifting heavy objects was causing my SI problem from a slip and fall some time ago.

    I now use a small cushion for one hip to keep the pressure slightly off the side with the problem, I also got a board with a 6 inch foam memory mattress now and no longer wake up to pain as it provides just the right amount of firm support. I also discovered Ibuprofen will reduce swelling and thus the pain, so after popping it in place that helps afterwards along with heat rub. I also try to sit as little as possible now, either reclining on my back or standing, which also reduces the chances of it returning.

    It’s been a very expensive and frustrating time, chiropractors have been of little help, doctors just issued pain pills and recommended surgery to fuse the joint. I had to carefully analyze my particular multi-faceted problem and solve each segment, but to let you know that of all the many SI stuck tricks I’ve tried, yours worked and now I’ve been pain free and happy for several weeks now all without surgery.

    My problem isn’t like others, it’s true that SI joints can get out of place differently, sitting for long periods or riding rough can be the worst, one should be moving around and thus the joint supposedly moves back into place. I do advise one to seek several qualified medical opinions, x-rays and tests to confirm their exact problem and causes before resorting to self-treatment, but if one knows for sure it’s the SI joint and with no other complications, then most certainly give Bernadette’s method a try. I hope others will find the pain relief they seek. Thanks for your advice.

  70. Good blog you have here.. It’s difficult to find good quality writing like yours nowadays.
    I seriously appreciate people like you! Take care!!

  71. Hi Bernadette,

    I am currently dying. My SI has been such a mess now for 3 months. I have done stretching, chiropractic, acupuncture and such to no relief. I am a fitness instructor and this has brought me to the point where I can’t work out with my clients. Heck getting out of the car is a challenge because twisting to my left is ridiculously painful. I tried the above stretch and my hip is throbbing. I am hoping maybe part 2 may help. I do appreciate you taking the time to provide hope and possible relief. I guess I will keep trying.

    • Again, never, never, never move into pain where the S.I. is concerned. If something doesn’t feel good then stop immediately. Also when in the throes of a truly acute injury I recommend rest. Feel better, and good luck.

    • Dana,

      This is what I’ve found that works for me.

      1: Confirm it’s the SI joint. Practitioners are useful for first finding the exact problem, however what I’ve observed is most don’t seem to want you to get better as then your no source of income for them anymore. I suspect putting pins into your body to fuse the SI joint is only going to cause issues later as one gets older, likely requiring even more expensive surgery to fix.

      2: I found all the actions that is causing it to slip. This is the most difficult to do, I had to keep painstaking records of my activities and play detective. For instance, if I cracked the joint into place, took ibuprofen (to reduce swelling) and then went to bed and woke up without a pain. Then picked up a child and the pain returned when at work, it could be the car ride, the chair at work or picking up the child, further recording keeping will helped me narrow down what issues are causing it. It might be multiple issues and only by keeping detailed records will show what activities are causing it. Once I had a record, I tried stopping certain activities I thought is causing it.

      3: A big source of my problems is the lack of firmness of the mattress, my hard car seat and where I sit for long periods of time. Also if the car ride is rough or not or for how long, for instance Jeeps are traditionally a very rough ride, as are a lot of small cars. We tend to take these things for granted, but they are having a effect on our bodies. Go for a cushy ride to save your body.

      You mentioned getting out of the car is a problem, I’ve found my SI joint gives me issues when getting out of low to the ground vehicles because of the strange twisting of the leg and the extra pressure required to get out. If I get out a vehicle that is higher up where I can easily sit in and slip out, there is less effort required to stand and no substantial twisting involved.

      Bernadette is correct, rest is required (flat on the back type) to let the injury heal and the swelling that is pinching the nerve to go down. Then slowly do limited activities until I came to learn what causes the pain to return. But also since the SI joint is out of place, the pain is going to return doing just about anything. So it’s a combination of cracking SI back into place, rest, limited activities, finding the environmental and other causes that puts the SI joint out of place again, then starting the whole rest to no pain cycle again. It’s a very time consuming and frustrating experience, there was no quick fix until I learned and then changed my behaviors and environment.

      Also there are other various SI joint cracks on YouTube etc., however I’ve found Bernadette’s method to be extremely effective in my case, however I do take ibuprofen and then go to bed afterwards as to maximize the rest period and let the swelling go down. Since it can come on slowly in my case and gradually get worst, I’ve learned to keep it at bay using her technique at the slightest hint of pain.

      Good luck and I hope you find relief and I apologize for the long post!

      Legal mumbo jumbo: Personal experience only, not meant to be taken as medical advice. I am not a doctor of medicine. Always seek multiple, proper and qualified medical attention, especially x-rays, to determine if any broken bones, torn ligaments etc., prior to any stretching exercise.

  72. Hi Bernadette,

    I have tried both poses from both articles discussing the SI joint being stuck but unfortunately I have not experienced any relief. I have never practiced yoga and before having the injury (over a year now) I was a fairly athletic individual.

    I was wondering whether you could suggest some other poses or advise on how else I could remedy my stuck SI joint please?

    Thank you for helping so many people,
    Scott

    • Sorry to hear that. One of the things that makes the SI so tricky is that there are no one size fits all cures. I recommend finding a great practitioner to work with–either a yoga instructor, chiro, feldenkrais practitioner, or all of the above. Good luck!

    • Scott,

      Another trick I found out by accident is to stand on the leg with the pinched nerve, using the arm on the same site extended out horizontally, grab something firm with that hand to steady yourself, then extend the other leg up in the air and carefully around towards the pain side like a ballerina does.

      This seems to have the effect of twisting the pain leg and body in opposite directions, thus perhaps placing a vertical pressure on the SI joint that’s located near the spine. In my case sometimes results in a nice audio popping sound, followed by a slight relief of pressure on the nerve. The pain doesn’t go away right away as the nerve and area is still inflamed, but ibuprofen (specifically, as it reduces swelling), plus some hot rubbing stuff and rest makes it all better in few hours.

      Of course it’s important to find all causing actions, check the firmness of the mattress, car seats etc., and other reasons that may be causing it to slip out again or gradually come back. I’ve found I need a certain firmness level on seats and mattresses. If I can’t change the seat, then I use a cushion, sometimes under the side without the problem to keep the pressure off the bad side.

      I suggest trying a Sleep Number Bed for some time, it has the ability to fine tune the firmness level. If you find your required firmness is around 50, you might opt for a 6″ memory foam mattress on a board on top of a box spring. Memory foam seems to get softer the thicker it is, which 8″ and up seems to aggravate my SI joint and 4″ hurts pressure points. Hotel mattresses are terrible as they vary in firmness levels, however some do carry Sleep Number type mattresses .

      If you find a chiropractor or other practitioner is able to pop it out successfully for you, it can get to be very expensive to see them all time and especially hard on short notice. It really pays to find the causes and cures to keep it in check.

      Good Luck. :)

  73. Omg!!!! This totally works! I cried tears of relief and joy !!!!! T h a n k you!!!

  74. I have both a stuck SI joint (which I’ve had for 13 years) and a herniated disk in my lower back. Usually I can tell the difference between the pain, but at times (especially if they’re both flaring up) it’s almost impossible. I manage the pain for the disk on my own because I know what my limitations are, but with SI joint all I have to do is sleep the wrong way and I’ll wake up unable to walk. Chiropractic visits have managed the pain for me in the past, but they are expensive, and don’t always immediately help. Plus they try to get you in for 3x weekly visits!

    I tried the stretch you mentioned in Part 2 first, but I’m not flexible enough to really get into the position necessary to affect the joint. So then I tried this one. I didn’t feel a pop or anything, but I could feel the joint stretching. And when I stood up, there was still tenderness, but no sharp jab of pain that I’d been dealing with all morning.

    I will definitely keep this in my arsenal for pain relief!

  75. Thanks Bernadette, your technique really works.

    3 days, three stretching exercises and each time (after the muscle soreness went away) I could feel slightly less pressure on the nerve. Day 4 the nerve pain down the leg was gone.

    Other advice in the posts above was also very helpful. Like muscle rub and ibuprofen to reduce swelling, checking the firmness of mattresses, not picking up heavy objects etc. Truckers seat pads also seem to help reduce pressure to prevent it from reoccurring.

    I’m assuming based upon the technique, that the problem sides ilium moves forward or perhaps down when dislodged as the joint is broken from whatever accident caused it. The technique does move it back into place although I found out it may take several tough stretches applied over several days to arrive at the point where there is no longer any painful pressure on the nerve.

    For others reading, the second link above (4/18/13 UPDATE) shows where the SI joint is located.

  76. Your technique is promising but I havent got a clue if im doing this right. Please do a video and you will help manu others like me. Please

  77. I did this pose last night and it worked! I went to bed with no pain and woke up this morning with no pain. Thank you so much Bernadette!!

  78. The pain of the pinched nerve was gone after doing your technique.

    However I still had muscle like pain on one side when I sit, so I asked my neighbor (as she works in therapy) and she showed me another strech that worked instantly.

    Lay on your back with both legs up, then put the foot of the side with the pain right behind the knee of the other leg. Grab both sides of the foot and pull towards your chest.

    She also said to do both sides like that and the cause of it is from sitting too much, riding on rough vehicles or hard surfaces.

  79. Thank you! I actually skipped my vinyasa class tonight because I couldn’t stand up straight. And, ok I know, counterproductive. But I couldn’t face all the twisting etc. As I teach as well, I came home and did some hunting and there you were. I can stand up straight now. Again, thank you! I’ll keep this in my yoga toolbox!

  80. After two years of limited activities due to S.I. joint pain and finally visits to physical therapy, I was desperate to find some relief. I tried these stretches for two weeks, until I finally felt something “give” and felt instant relief. I don’t think it was the S.I. Joint per se that moved, but I do believe it released pressure on either a tendon or ligament or scar tissue or SOMETHING that didn’t heal properly from a previous injury. My understanding is the S.I. Joint doesn’t move much to begin with, but if the tissue around it doesn’t heal properly that can cause long term problems. And realistically, even with physical therapy I only found SOME relief when they massaged the area to help reduce the inflammation.

    To finally be able to bend and move normally is such a relief and I’m so very thankful I found this information.

    Thank you!!!!!!!!!

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  3. Stuck! (Instructions for Unsticking a Cranky S.I. Joint Part 2) | Bernadette Birney: It's about yoga (sort of)
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