Sacroiliac (SI) Joint Exercises for Sciatic Pain

Sacroiliac (SI) Joint Exercises for Sciatic Pain

sciatica exercise
Figure 21
(larger view)

sciatica exercise
Figure 2
(larger view)

sciatica exercise
Figure 22
(larger view)

Differences Between Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction and Sciatica

Inflammation of the sacroiliac joint is believed to be caused by a disruption in the normal movement of the joint, despite the fact that the sacroiliac joint (also called the SI joint) naturally has a very limited range of motion. If the sacroiliac joint becomes inflamed, the portion of the sciatic nerve that runs directly in front of the joint can be irritated.

Sacroiliac joint dysfunction affects the sciatic nerve and has similar symptoms to sciatica. However, pain along the sciatic nerve caused by sacroiliac joint dysfunction is not caused by a compressed nerve root as it exits the spine as occurs with true sciatica.

Stretching Exercises for Sciatic Pain from Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction

Performing range of motion exercises directed at the SI joint can often restore normal movement and alleviate the irritation of the sciatic nerve. Three helpful exercises are described below:

  • Single knee to chest stretch. Pull one knee up to the chest at a time, gently pumping the knee three to four times at the top of the range of motion. Do 10 repetitions for each leg (Figure 21).
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  • Press-up. From the prone position, press up on the hands while the pelvis remains in contact with the floor. Keep the lower back and buttocks relaxed for a gentle stretch (Figure 2). Hold the press-up position initially for five seconds, and gradually work up to 30 seconds per repetition. Aim to complete 10 repetitions.
  • Lumbar rotation - non-weight bearing. Starting by lying on the back with both knees bent, keep the feet flat on the floor while rocking the knees from side to side. The thighs should rub together and the knees will not move very far. The lower spine should remain fairly still. Rock the knees for 30 seconds (Figure 22).
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Ron Miller
Article written by: Ron S. Miller, PT