Monday, August 12, 2013
Occasional Sacroiliac Joint Discomfort
You may not have any "significant" complaints of sacroiliac joint (SIJ) pain (that area where your tailbone meets your pelvis), but you can seem to reproduce some discomfort when you're in certain positions such as after prolonged sitting activities such as sitting in front of your computer such as what you are doing right now. Now let's say that when you fully slouch, or tuck in your butt, you start to feel some discomfort in the SIJs; and let's say you move your pelvis in the opposite direction where you're sitting taller and sticking your butt out and you also feel some discomfort. I bet if a therapist stuck their thumbs in that vicinity, they'd find the "speed bumps", or areas of fibrosis, which is the body's response to excessive, prolonged soft tissue stress where it thickens the involved tissues. The sacrum and the ilium of the pelvis move all over the place and their structure (form) and the muscles around them (force) provide for stability in what's called form & force closure. When the positioning of the joints are less than ideal or if certain muscles are not working when they need to be, you get a case of "instability". And instability of the SIJs can be compensated everywhere else throughout the body. Just imagine the stereotypical "sexy" woman gait pattern where the hips sway excessively side to side and how this can contribute to possible ankle sprains, knee pain, low back, neck, and shoulder issues as well.
Now getting back to that discomfort in your SIJs when slouching and sitting up tall:
From the above picture, you can see the relationship between the gluteus maximus (butt) and the opposite side latissimus dorsi ("lats"). For example, look at the right butt and go diagonally up towards the left shoulder; you'll notice how the muscle fibers flow together in an oblique fashion. This "butt" and "lats" relationship provides for force closure (stability) of the SIJ (in this example, the right SIJ). Whatever side discomfort you feel, contract that side buttock muscle and the opposite side "lat"(tighten your armpit or press your hand down into your lap); maintain your butt & lat contraction (while breathing), and slouch or sit up tall as you did before. What you'll notice is that your discomfort should be gone. This is because you're using the muscles in a way to protect the joint.
The genus of our body is that everything works together. The "butt & lat" relationship relates to how we developed the ability to walk where the opposite arm and leg move together. We run into problems when we no longer perform activities that stimulate our nervous system. In other words, we get lazy. And when we're lazy, we lose function,...the old "use it or lose it" phenomenon .
You'd be amaze at what your body can do once you spend some time exploring its potential....
You've got muscles. Now go use them.
Vleeming, A et al. Movement Stability & Low Back Pain: The essential role of the pelvis. Churchill Livingstone, 1997: pp.231-233