Anatomy-Informed Practice to Protect the Sacroiliac Joints
High Desert Yoga's upcoming guest teacher is Roger Cole, Ph.D. Roger is a prominent expert in the prevention of yoga injuries and informed anatomy which, in effect, is safely aligning, mobilizing and strengthening your joints while simultaneously stabilizing them. How to acheive this? Read below to find out!
In one of his featured articles in Yoga Journal, "How to Protect the Sacroiliac Joints," Roger discusses, in depth, the importance of anatomically pin-pointing one's source of pain in regards to sacroiliac disfunction. He mentions in his article that, "The cardinal symptom of SI pain is an ache on or around the posterior superior iliac spine (PSIS), on one side of the body only. The PSIS is the rear-most point of bone on the pelvis." In the article he continues to elaborate on anatomical structure, as well as what aggravates the instability of the joint. Ultimately, he breaks down three steps towards healing.
The first step is to coax the joint into alignment. Roger recommends poses that help to align the joint include backbends, such as Supta Virasana (Reclining Hero Pose), one-sided pelvic tilts, such as reclining and drawing one bent knee toward the armpit on the same side, exercises that pull the ilium bones apart, such as certain variations of Padmasana (Lotus Pose), or specialized poses that use props or muscle actions to apply lateral pressure to the upper thigh bones, opening the top part of the SI joint space. He adds that these possibilites are only the beginning.
Once alignment is established, he recommends stabilizing the sacroiliac joint beginning with backbends against the resistance of gravity. Poses here include using Shalabhasana (Locust), Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose), and Urdhva Dhanurasana (Upward Bow Pose). All three of these strengthen the erector spinae muscles that run vertically from the sacrum or ilium up the back. They also strengthen the buttocks.
Once the joint is aligned and stabilized Roger says we must be mindful of how we move the joint. Practices that help protect from disfunction are the third step. Here he recommends that we move the body mindfully, especially in the poses that put the most strain on the sacroiliac joints, including seated forward bends, twists, and wide-legged poses. He mentions that we should move the sacrum and the two ilium bones as a unit, keep the pubic bones together, and roll to one side before sitting.
Roger Cole, Ph.D. is an Iyengar-certified yoga teacher and Stanford-trained scientist. He specializes in human anatomy and in the physiology of relaxation, sleep, and biological rhythms.
Read full articles by Roger Cole: