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The Sacroiliac joint, known as the SI Joint, supports the movement and transmits forces between the spine, pelvic floor, and hip joint. Many muscles attach to these bones and can influence SI joint biomechanics and stability.  These muscles include the abdominals, spine extensors, gluteal muscles, hip rotators, pelvic floor and latissimus dorsi muscles.

SI Joint Pain

Have you experienced unexplained lower back pain?  Lower back pain affects 80% of the population, and most people will seek treatment of some kind.  Lower back pain may or may not be accompanied by radiating pain down the outside of the leg toward the knee.  Usually, one finds the lower back pain and leg pain on one side, either the right or the left.  This type of pain is referred to as SI joint pain or Sacroiliac joint pain.

Another way to treat SI joint pain is to stretch and strengthen the muscles surrounding this joint.  Since the sacroiliac joint does not pivot; the job of this joint is to stabilize the pelvic floor and hips.  Once the torso moves into a twist, keep the hip bones supported.  Neutralize the pelvic muscles will allow the body to twist from the waistline and use the obliques.

I would describe the pain as a dull or tired ache, which is only present some of the time.  If twisting or forward bending is painful, the SI joint could be dysfunctional.  One day during an intense spin class, I decided to increase the intensity on my bike, adding a few gears to the maximum level.  I felt a “pop” in my left lower back which did not hurt at the time.  However, later that day, my lower Back felt a dull, tired ache.  I had to apply ice to that area for the next four days.

These are a few other reasons sacroiliac joint pain may occur.  Walking is a prime example of how the hip joint alternately moves forward and backward with each step.  Every increase in hip width causes an increased torque across the SI joint.  Women are more likely than men to incur SI joint due to Hip anatomy.  Pregnancy can stretch a female’s hip and pelvic floor muscles and may lead to SI joint pain.  If one leg is longer than the other, this can shorten the stride on one side which makes it difficult to immobilize the SI joint.

*If you are experiencing lower back or leg pain, please consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program.

Pilates mat exercises

Several Pilates mat exercises improve hip stabilization and keeping the pelvic floor neutral.  Pilates will also increase both the strength and flexibility of your abdominal muscles, obliques, hips and gluteal muscles.  There is no impact on the joints in the body.  The following are three Pilates mat exercise to do at home:

**A few tips before you start, create a breath pattern with long inhales and deep exhales, move slowly and in control and keep your abdominals engaged throughout the exercise.

1. Side Leg Lifts

Start lying on your side with your back against a wall, legs are straight.  Once your hips are stacked, flex your foot while raising your leg.  Only lift as high as a few inches, keeping your focus on stabilizing your Hip bones and extending thru your heel.  Pause two seconds, then slowly lower down.  Repeat ten times on each side.

2. Knee to Chest

Start seated on your mat with knees bent and feet flat.  Take a deep inhale and slowly exhaling, start to roll back with your lower abdominals engaged.  Scoop your navel to the spine in a ‘C’ curve.  Roll halfway down, resting on your elbows.  Lift both feet off the floor, to a tabletop or knees over hips.  Begin by tapping one foot toward the mat, and slowly return.  Alternate legs, and repeat ten times on each side.

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Knees to Chest for Sacroiliac Joint exercise

3. Bridging on a ball

You will need a 65cm inflatable stability ball.  Lie on your back and rest your heels on the top of the ball.  Keeping feet flexed, lift your hips up so that your hip joints are in a parallel line.  Begin by extending your legs to straight and then rebending to your bridge position.  Repeat ten times.  Keeping your hips lifted the whole time,  move slowly and continue to breathe.  Click on the link below to view this exercise.

Keeping a neutral pelvic floor allows me to spin at a higher intensity without any back pain.   If you experience lower back pain, please contact The Pilates Room at 603-817-4829 to schedule a free consultation.

Do you suffer from Pelvic Floor Dysfunction?

For more information, please visit our page Pelvic Floor Dysfunction; what is it?

The first clients of Joseph Pilates and his wife Clara were dancers who studied at their studio in New York during the 1920s and 1930s.  Today, athletes who use this method include runners, swimmers, skiers, tennis players, and cyclists. However, anyone can use the exercises to add core strength and flexibility, as well as increased mobility in the spine, hips, and shoulders.


Pilates looks deceptively easy.  The exercises focus on a range of motion rather than resistance.  This means that the entire body is working smaller, intrinsic muscles in each exercise.   A client will increase strength in these smaller muscles that are close to the bone.  Another benefit includes the extension of the spine which increases flexibility.

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Joseph Pilates created his system of exercises for wounded veterans.  He attached springs to their bedposts to offer resistance training while moving through a range of motion; this is similar to the concept of Reformers.  Pilates can be done on the mat, or on equipment such as the Reformer, Cadillac, Barrel, Wunda Chair, and Ped-O-Pull.

As a certified instructor and athlete, I began using the Pilates system in 1997 and noticed an increase in my running speeds and less pain in my joints.  One year later I came across the finish line in first place!  Pilates became my streamlined practice, and I stopped going to the gym.  Whether you are a beginner or an athlete who has been training for years, there is a level for you. According to NFL defensive back Johnson Bademosi, quoted in Men’s Fitness:

“It’s hard to prepare for what’s needed on the field by just lifting weights.  Pilates challenges you with really unfamiliar movements.”

Schaerlaeckens, Leander (2018, March). 5 power Pilates moves to make you a better athlete. Men’s Fitness. Retrieved from

Pilates and golf

Golfers will notice a better swing in their game.  We focus on rotation of the spine and exercises that increase strength, flexibility, and range of motion of the upper back, shoulders, and hips.  Exercises include the 100, a 10 cycle breathing exercise that builds core strength.  Kneeling bicycle, side overs, and single leg circles are examples of other exercises to help your golf game.

Pilates helps to tone muscles rather than shorten them.  This makes it unique to other strength training methods that use weight-bearing exercises which overload the muscle and shorten it.   Bademosi, among other athletes, uses the system to increase his range of motion, and lengthen muscles through extension, rather than shortening them.  Each exercise uses core strength so everyone can improve their game with stronger abdominal muscles.

Other benefits include improved coordination, balance, muscular control, better posture, reduced joint pain, and faster recovery time.  A growing number of athletes are finding Pilates a benefit to their daily routines.

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Pilates has helped those living with Scoliosis.  Read on to learn more about Pilates exercises for those with living with this condition.

I would like to acknowledge having worked with Karen Clippinger, M.S.P.E., who taught the formatted Pilates exercises to help those with scoliosis. The Pilates Room is proud to offer private and semi-private Pilates sessions, in addition to building healthy working relationships with those who become clients.


Scoliosis, defined as a bone condition, involves an abnormal sideways curvature of the spine.   This condition inflicts about 2% of the U.S.  Whereas; females have a higher index and experience greater severity than males.

There are two types, discussed here.  Nonstructural scoliosis can improve with specific treatment.  The second type, known as structural may be present at birth and caused by genetics, trauma, or neuromuscular conditions (abnormal muscles or nerves).

How Pilates exercise will help those living with Scoliosis

Pilates exercises will strengthen intrinsic muscles and increase flexibility.  Lateral flexion is seen in some of these exercises and will increase symmetry and balance to the thoracic spine.  Working through the range of motion and specific upper back exercises improves the mobility of the upper to mid back or thoracic spine.  Lumbar and Pelvic activities such as the Bridge, or Single Leg Stretch will increase the strength and mobility of the abdominal or other related lumbar and pelvic muscles.  The two regions of the spine discussed, thoracic and lumbar, are areas to focus on those with scoliosis.

All Pilates exercises use either resistance training or weight bearing techniques.  The equipment is known as the Pilates reformer, the Cadillac, the Wunda Chair, and Barrel.  There is no impact on the joints as related to most weight-bearing exercises.   During your first consultation, we discuss a client history and address your questions.  Please consult your doctor before beginning any exercise routine.

Author: Michele McCauley, The Pilates Room
Date: March 13, 2018
Narrative: Karen Clippinger, M.S.P.E.

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