Monday, July 4, 2011

Sacroiliac Joint (S.I. Joint) dysfunction and running. How to deal, what works for me.

I've been getting this question a lot so I thought I would blog about it.

People have been asking me about my "hip" and what it feels like/ what I do about it. In college I was misdiagnosed with piriformis syndrome and ran hurt 75% of the time. It was not until I was out of college that a chiropractor convinced me that this was definitely not the case.

What it feels like: Besides serious hamstring tightness and a bad achilles, about 3 miles into a race or hard tempo run, my hip starts to cramp along the inside of my hamstring down to my knee. I will then have trouble bending the leg at the knee and start to "lose control" of my left leg. My lower back will cramp up. My pace and form will really suffer. Sometimes will get relief after about 4 miles of this awkwardness.


Over the years I have tried everything and anything, and felt that the reduced running schedule while pregnant may help the issue. Of course, pregnancy did not help and the joint pain returned almost immediately. After talking with a few female friends I finally found myself again at physical therapy at OCH (the local hospital).

TO be completely honest, if you suffer from S.I. problems you are probably going to suffer with this problem for life. Everyone I have ever talked to regarding this injury is that you never get over with it, but you can do things to keep it from flaring up.

What is different about this time versus all others is that I finally found a P.T. that deals with her own S.I. problems, and she never twisted, pounded, or pushed to hard. We worked everything slowly and diligently and thus I was able to complete my first marathon successfully.

What worked for me was a combination of my S.I. exercises twice a day on my own, P.T for the S.I. joint problems 3 times a week, and a session with a sports massage therapist on average of once a week. I am not over the S.I problems, but I am able to train without interruption.

Here is a video that describes this problem in great detail:

Here are a few recommended exercises. Please keep in mind that you should not do any of these without discussing your injury with you doctor...and I am not a doctor! Hope this helps.


Megg

24 comments:

VanessaG said...

This was an interdting post. It made me think of my little (well 19yr old, but still little in my mind) brother. He was a hurdler in h.s. He already broke hs records in middle schooll and was on his way to being state champion and hopefully a scholarship to Virgnia Tech. Well, long story a little shorter he ended up not being able to run. He has hips that are turned the wrong way(never bothered him before). It's genetic. So....he didn't get the track scholarship, but he ended up being the valvictorian and is in the engineering dept at VT. Go Hokies!! Guess the Lord had diff plans. His are the best! :)

Lize Brittin said...

Thank you so much for posting this. I have had similar issues, though not exactly the same. PT is definitely helping. I will look more into the exercises now that you posted the video!

Caitlyn Clark said...

Hey,
My friend Nate Jenkins (2:14 marathoner, runs for Saucony... Not sure if you've heard of him) had a Hip/hammy injury for YEARS! Where he would lose coordination in his hip. I'm never a fan of surgery as an option, but he had surgery not too long ago for this (took years and years or different tests to get it) and has his coordination back and doesn't have pain anymore. You should check out his log: http://wpblogs.runningtimes.com/blogs/natejenkins/

It could be helpful... He has tons of info on there in the comments section. This guy knows EVERYTHING about running. He's basically cleared his mind of anything non-running to make room for more running. haha! He writes really long responses to comments. It's so funny because around here he's a celebrity, but he's just a normal guy who worked his ass off in college! Good stuff (bad grammar though, beware!)

chris said...

I did not know about your injury! This makes me admire you even more - to run as well as you are while adjusting to your hip issues is more than amazing! I am so excited to see what you can do! When is the next race? Also, can you do a post sometimes about your philosophy on training for various races?

chris said...

By the way, Chris is Ana-Maria from Running and Living. I was signed up under my husband's name

Marc said...

I def think I'm in your boat. I'm undiagnosed, but sore left hip, left hamstring, and right achillies.
As soon as I can, I'm going to suggest looking at the SI Joint.

Thanks!!

ayedubbscclark said...

I really liked the videos..I have been dealing with SI pain, as a result of a hip injury -- but I am getting it under control now. It's great to know you are still able to train and manage the pain!

-aye dubbs

Meggie said...

I have a very similar problem - I've been told its SI Joint dysfunction, but I'm not sure it is. Most of my pain is in my so-called "angry muscle" meaning the medial (innermost) side of my thigh -- its either an inner hamstring or adductor. It always flares up a bit when I start running more and forget to do core strength and stuff...is that the same place you have pain?!?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great video's. I sprained my SI joint a year and a half ago and only got relief after a steroid injection(which hurt like he##). I exercise regularly now and have an amazing massage therapist who consults with my chiropractor and trainer. I still get pains, sometimes bad, but its a huge improvement from being flat on my back in bed for a month. I appreciate the stretches and exercises you've shown. Some are new to me.

Caroline Gottschalk Druschke said...

Hi - Thanks for the post! Have you written any more about SI joint dysfunction. I'm a lifelong runner diagnosed with SI joint dysfunction after giving birth to my son in November. I was flat on my back for a month or so and have improved alot from twice weekly PT and at home exercises but I'm still in pain and can't do much exercise-wise. Interested to hear any follow-up you can offer.

Anonymous said...

OMG reading this has helped me so much. I've been running for about 1year and LOVE it except my SI joint keeps locking up. First, they thought it was my back and I was sent to a Sports PT. He noticed my SI joints were twisted so he snapped them back in place since then it's been a freaking nightmare with unbearable pain. Do you think I shoiuld try again with a PT or my othoro suggested a chiropracter? I just want to run....

Thanks again!

mfranks said...

Anon,

I might suggest a different physical therapist BUT you may get some relief from a good chiropractor if the joint is not moving enough or if there is a lot of inflammation in the joint. I have an incline table (where you hang upside down) and it helps sooo much, you may want to try one out if you can before purchasing.

I have another post you may want to read:
http://www.levelrenner.com/2013/06/04/westover-continues-to-roll-at-vcm/

Hope this helps. - M

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Aaron Smith said...

Thanks for the very informative blog Meggan! My wife and I are preparing for our second marathon in october. We're doing the Marine Corps Marathon out in Washington D. C. SI pain has definitely been slowing me down this time around. Has anyone tried using hip braces? I found a good one on http://www.braceability.com/hip-braces-hip-supports-hip-support-belts I bought the low profile one that is specifically for SI issues. I hope this helps!

Shari S. said...

I too have been dealing with the same issue for years. I couldn't run 2 miles without pain in spite of PT , inversion table & chiropractic care. Recently I saw a new chiropractor and it changed everything! She diagnosed the problem was coming from my foot. My right first metatarsal was dropping down when bearing weight, which then affected my leg, hip and lower back! She recommended a small insert beneath my metatarsal. My next run was a half-marathon. I thought it might be dumb to add this in before a race. But it was amazing - 13 miles pain free. It is amazing how much in my back could be corrected in my foot.

Shari S. said...

I too have been dealing with the same issue for years. I couldn't run 2 miles without pain in spite of PT , inversion table & chiropractic care. Recently I saw a new chiropractor and it changed everything! She diagnosed the problem was coming from my foot. My right first metatarsal was dropping down when bearing weight, which then affected my leg, hip and lower back! She recommended a small insert beneath my metatarsal. My next run was a half-marathon. I thought it might be dumb to add this in before a race. But it was amazing - 13 miles pain free. It is amazing how much in my back could be corrected in my foot.

Kara Vetere said...

WOW- this is really reassuring since i have the same problem and thought I was the only one! Everytime I start running i feel pain coming all the way down from my hip. Been going to PT and Pilates to try to get back to running some day...

Kara Vetere said...

WOW- this is really reassuring since i have the same problem and thought I was the only one! Everytime I start running i feel pain coming all the way down from my hip. Been going to PT and Pilates to try to get back to running some day...

Kara Vetere said...

WOW- This is really reassuring since I have had the same problem. Every time I start running i get pain going down my leg from my hip on only my left side. I have been going to PT and Pilates to try get back to running some day...

Kristen said...

Can anyone please, please suggest an SI specialist in the Boston area (or even anywhere in MA, NH, or CT)? A chiro or PT? Thank you!

Kristen said...

Can anyone please, please, please recommend an SI specialist in the Boston area (or anywhere in MA)? A chiro or PT? I'm desperate. Thank you!

Tara Fuller said...

I've been diagnosed with hypo SIJ which means that it locks; but my pain isn't in my back or my hamstrings . The pain radiates down the front of the top of my quad (think hip flexor or groin) down to right above my knee on the left side. It got so bad I was not able to walk or crawl even a millimeter until the PT unlocked it. I'm training for a marathon and I'm extremely frustrated, but it's helpful to see so many people learning to cope and continuing to run. I guess hypo is only 2% of SIJ patients and was told they've been known to disappear as suddenly as they appear, so I'm hopeful.

Anonymous said...

How many sets and reps are you doing each session for your SI joint exercises?

Anonymous said...

I was extremely crippled with SI joint dysfunction and finally found relief and eventually healing with a combination of chiropractic adjustments, prolotherapy and yoga.