Aerobic Exercise for Sacroiliac (SI) Joint Dysfunction

May 15, 2023 4 min read

Sacroilliac joint pain

Sacroiliac Joint Anatomy and Function

Sacroiliac (SI) joint dysfunction is a condition that causes pain in the lower back and buttocks. The SI joints are located where the sacrum (the triangular bone at the bottom of the spine) meets the pelvis. These joints help to support the weight of the upper body and allow for movement of the hips.

 The SI joints connect the triangular bone at the bottom of the spine (the sacrum) with both hip bones.

  • The front part of this joint is held together by ligaments with a synovial lining.
  • The back part of the sacroiliac joint includes a network of strong ligaments that extend across the joint to provide extra support and stability.

The main function of the sacroiliac joint is to absorb pressure transmitted between the upper and lower body. For example, the SI joint helps absorb shock placed on the lower body with movements such as walking, running, or jumping to reduce the pressure felt in the lower spine.

The joint typically has very little motion, allowing small movements to stabilize the pelvis when walking, bending forward or backward, and twisting the spine.

 SI Joint Dysfunction can be caused by a number of factors, including:

  • Injury to the SI joint
  • Pregnancy
  • Posture problems
  • Weak core muscles
  • Arthritis

The symptoms of SI joint dysfunction can vary from person to person, but they often include:

  • Pain in the lower back and buttocks
  • Pain that worsens with activity
  • Pain that radiates down the leg
  • Stiffness in the lower back and buttocks
  • Difficulty walking or standing


Benefits of Aerobic Exercise for Sacroiliac (SI) Joint Dysfunction

Aerobic exercise is an important part of any exercise program, as it helps improve cardiovascular health and better distribute essential nutrients throughout the body. Aerobic exercise is generally considered most beneficial when done for a minimum of 20 to 30 minutes up to 5 times per week. 

After an injury, your sacroiliac (SI) joint needs time to heal. So you’ll need to take a break from some of your usual activities, especially those that may have caused the problem, like running or a sport. But eventually, getting -- and staying -- active can give you relief from SI joint pain.

Here are some safe ways to keep moving while your joint heals.

 Some forms of aerobic exercise, such as running or jogging, can jostle the sacroiliac joint and exacerbate pain. For this reason, low-impact aerobics that are easier on the low back and pelvis may be recommended, such as:

Walking - Faster-paced  walking is a means of gently working the muscles and raising the heart rate. Exercise walking is gentler on the sacroiliac joint than running or jogging,  It’s a good way to care for your lower back. Start slow with 20 minutes, twice a week. Make sure you wear comfortable, low-heeled shoes. If you don’t notice any pain, add more time to your walk or speed up your pace. Aim for 30 minutes most days and  it has the added benefit of being easy to fit in to a regular schedule, such as on your lunch break, around the neighborhood, or indoors on a treadmill

Women on cross trainer

Using an Elliptical/Cross Trainer  -A similar aerobic workout to running or jogging can be performed on an elliptical machine without the impact of the foot striking the ground, which relieves stress on the sacroiliac joint. Most machines have grips that help exercise the arms and upper body as well as a variety of resistance levels to help build muscles in the lower body. The one shown in the image above is the excellent Life Fitness Club Series Cross Trainer

man on upright bike


Stationary biking - Like an elliptical  machine, a stationary bike allows for aerobic exercise without the jolts of biking on uneven ground that can irritate the SI joint. Some people can get relief from SI pain by riding an upright bike or recumbent (reclined) bike as it increases blood flow to your sore lower back and hips without putting stress on the SI joint.

We would recommend the Sole LCB Upright Bike & Sole LCR Recumbent Bike as good quality, great value and highly durable for your rehabilitation journey.

Water Therapy - You don't have to be an excellent swimmer to try water therapy. In the shallow end of a pool, exercises take place. An teacher will lead you through exercises to strengthen your glutes, stomach, and leg muscles during each session. You'll also loosen up the muscles in your calf, hamstrings, hips, and back. You'll find it simpler to move around and increase your flexibility because the water bears the weight of your body with less chance of injury.

Concluding Thoughts

Some trial and error may be needed to find an aerobic exercise that is enjoyable and does not worsen SI joint pain. One of the most important factors for success with an exercise program is maintaining regular exercise, so it is important to find a method of aerobic exercise that one is likely to continue.

It is generally a good idea to consult with your Doctor /Physio /PT  before starting a new exercise program, in order to ensure the exercise will not further irritate the SI joint. For instance, pain caused by too little motion at the SI joint (fixation) will benefit from some exercises differently than pain caused by too much motion.

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