Pilates for Treating Sacroiliac Joint Pain

Beautiful young woman at gym

Your sacroiliac joints sit on either side of your spine, right at the top of back pockets if you are wearing pants. Although mobility here is necessary, too much, or too little, can be painful, according to Lynne Robinson, author of “The Official Body Control Pilates Manual." Several Pilates exercises can help open or stabilize your sacroiliac joints. Consult your doctor to assess sacroiliac joint pain and choose appropriate exercises for you.

Knee to Chest

This exercise gently stretches the muscles around your sacroiliac joint, notes Robinson. Lie on your back with your feet on the floor. Fold one knee in toward your chest, pulling the knee gently with your hands. If you cannot reach your knee easily, pass a towel behind it and pull on the ends to assist you. Breathe easily in this position for 60 seconds, and then switch legs.

Windshield Wipers

Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat. Extend your arms out in a “T” shape on your mat. Draw your belly in as you gently sway both knees to the right. Do not allow your left hip to rise off your mat. Move slowly, swaying from one side to the other for one to two minutes to release tight muscles around your SI joint. As you continue to practice this movement, try allowing your hips to peel off the mat. This additional range of motion feels better for some people, but not for everyone, notes Robinson.

Shot Gun

Tie a heavy resistance band around both your thighs and lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat. Point both toes forward. Exhale as you press both thighs outward an inch or two, pressing against the band. Keep your feet flat. Inhale as you release the pressure. Repeat this movement five times. Turn your feet out, like a duck, and perform five more presses. Turn your feet inward, like a pigeon, and perform five more presses. Notice which of the three positions feels most comfortable; you only need to continue with that position in future workout sessions, according to physical therapist Peggy Brill, author of "Instant Relief: Tell Me Where It Hurts and I'll Tell You What to Do.”


A tight or misaligned SI joint can pinch the sciatic nerve that runs through your sacroiliac joint and down your leg. The bicycle movement can help open the joint and relieve pressure, according to master Pilates teacher Romana Kryzanowska. Lie on your side with your legs stacked. Lift your top leg to hip height and kick it forward. Bend your knee to your chest. Use your top hand to pull the knee inward. Swing your knee behind your buttocks, aiming your foot at your seat. Use your hand to pull a bit on the knee. Kick your leg straight, and then swing it forward in a bicycling pattern. Repeat this movement up to five times on each leg.