SI Joint Pain

One thing I’ve had to deal with numerous times since my early 20’s has been SI joint pain. Before I knew what it was, I simply just described it as “lower back pain-but not really in my back”. Why the confusion? I said it was my lower back, but it kind of felt like it was underneath my glute. I say glute, and not glutes, because it only seemed to occur on one side. The first time I remember getting this rather awful pain was in 1997. I had just nailed another one of my patented turn-around baseline jumpers on the court outside Sigma Chi fraternity. My momentum carried me out of bounds were the blacktop met the dirt, and my foot landed awkwardly because of the little dip. I immediately crumpled to the ground in agony. Welcome to the SI joint.
SI refers to Sacroiliac. This joint is where your spine, by the way of the sacrum, meets your Ilium-part of the pelvis. It’s kind of important since it joins your upper body and lower body. Now, normally when we think about joints, we think of movable joints such as our shoulder, elbow or knee. However, there also exists non-moveable joints and joints capable of very little movement. The SI joint can fit both these descriptions. It can move slightly, but we really don’t want it to, unless you want to feel the intense pain that I did. The odd thing is, I usually “tweek” my SI joint doing random things like picking up clothes off the floor. Never when I’m training.
So what should you know about the SI joint? First, you can’t really prevent it from happening. It’s just something that occurs. It does seem to happen more often to people with commonly found issues: restricted movement in the hips or lower back, tight hamstrings, or increased lower back curve such as in women who wear high heels too much. Pain is often the worst when bending your knee; when you try to put on shoes or pants or when you’re driving. The physical act of getting dressed can turn into a torturous 10 minute ordeal. Also, seated positions are usually worse than when standing or walking. In fact, I have found that the sooner you can start walking around, the better. Inactivity will lead to extreme stiffness.
If you tweek your SI joint (often times it’s mistaken for sciatica) you could do a couple things. Ice, elevation, anti-inflammatory. Then, as quickly as possible, get moving. Go to the mall. Walk around. Don’t let it stiffen up on you too much. The mornings, upon waking, will be hell. Trust me on that one. Generally, the pain will start to diminish after 48-72 hours but there will be lingering effects for about a week. Also, don’t rush back to training. I’ve done that, too. Once you don’t feel anymore pain, I’d advise you to take another two days off. Pain seems to dissipate before the danger of re-injury does.
The possibility of tweaking your SI will always be there, especially if you’ve done it before. It’s annoying more than anything else. It hurts, too, don’t get me wrong. However, it’s usually just a small speed bump on your road to long-term health.

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