The human body is an amazing thing. With so many working parts and functioning systems, it is no wonder that sometimes things don’t always work as they should.
Pregnancy is often a time when the body is under strain, as our bodies transform and adjust to accommodate a growing baby. Women experience a range of aches and pains, the most commonly affected areas are centered around the pelvis, hips, and lower back. So let’s look at the sacroiliac joints which are located in your lower back/pelvis.
About The Sacroiliac Joints
The sacroiliac joints connect your hip bones to your sacrum (the triangular-shaped bone that sits between your tail bone and lower spine.)
These joints act as shock absorbers between your upper body, pelvis and legs. Basically, as you walk, lift, run, or jump, they take the impact.
There is very little range of movement in these joints, and they are strongly reinforced by surrounding ligaments and muscles.
What Causes Sacroiliac Joint Pain?
During pregnancy, the release of the relaxin hormone causes the ligaments to loosen. Along with this, the expanding uterus and increasing weight compromises muscle stability around the pelvis. These muscles may then be overworked and spasm, pulling your pelvis out of alignment and stressing the SI joints.
The change in body shape, and resulting forward pull of your posture also increases the demand on these joints.
Depending on your daily activities sometimes overuse eg. prolonged standing, bending, lifting, walking, will result in joint fatigue and pain.
If you’ve experienced pain in your sacroiliac joints before pregnancy they will likely need extra TLC and support if you are now carrying a baby.
Symptoms and Diagnosis of Sacroiliac Joint Pain
The main symptom is pain around the SI joints. This results from muscle spasm in your buttocks as they work hard to stabilise you. It may radiate into the groin or down the legs. Typically, it is felt on one side, but can be experienced on both. The sensation is very similar to that of sciatica.
Because the symptoms can mimic other issues, like sciatica, it is essential to get a professional diagnosis.
Your primary caregiver will refer you to a physiotherapist or osteopath who will assess you for stability and alignment. They will likely give you targeted stretching and strengthening exercises.
Self Help Treatment and Prevention
While there are no guaranteed ways to prevent SI joint pain during pregnancy, attempting to maintain correct posture, learning the proper way to move and lift, and doing regular exercises (approved by a medical professional) will help.
As you lift, bend your knees, gently draw your core and pelvic floor muscles in and up, and use the power in your legs to stand back up. Definitely practise this if you have a toddler who still wants to be picked up!
A flexible pregnancy support belt is essential. Smileybelt will provide relief by stabilising the pelvis and lower back, particularly while you‘re exercising, while you’re busy and for better sleep.
Use a heat pack when resting or tuck it into your Smileybelt when you’re busy.
Although prenatal yoga and pilates can be very beneficial, make sure you let your instructors know of your pain before the class. They should be able to help you modify as needed. There are some things you’ll want to avoid so you don’t further exacerbate the issue:
- asymmetrical poses – triangle, warrior poses, lunges, deep twists
- deep forward bends
- standing on/taking weight one leg (many balance poses and unconscious habit when we are standing on both feet)
For a few basic stretches that are safe during pregnancy and help relieve SI joint pain check out our post 4 stretches to relieve back pain during pregnancy.
Smileybelt assists with all these aspects and can help relieve the pressure on the joints, giving you the support you need to stay active and healthy during pregnancy.