Ease Sacroiliac Joint Pain With Our Top 6 Menopause-Friendly Exercises
Updated September 22, 2023.
Menopause is the inevitable physiologic consequence of the ageing process for women. At some point, your menstrual cycle ceases, marking the end of an era of fertility. Usually, the menstrual period must have stopped for at least twelve months before you can reach a definitive diagnosis.
While the age of onset varies in most women and across races, the symptoms of menopause are similar, usually consisting of hot flashes and mood disorders. Additionally, 40% of women in a recent study reported joint pain as a symptom of menopause (1). This is not surprising since menopause is characterised by decreased oestrogen levels which leads to less joint protection and, eventually, joint pain and stiffness.
Of the joint pain commonly reported, sacroiliac joint pain is perhaps the most common. It occurs when the sacroiliac joint (located where the pelvis connects with your spine at the lower back) becomes inflamed. It can cause pain in the lower back and buttocks and may radiate to the legs. Sacroiliac joint pain can be functionally limiting, hence the need to equip yourself with enough easy-to-do exercises that you can perform at home to relieve some pain, and here are our top 5.
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1. Lower Trunk Rotation
Lower trunk rotation improves flexibility in the hips and lower back, relieving pressure and pain in the sacroiliac joints.
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2. Knee-to-Chest Stretch
As a physiotherapist, the knee-to-chest stretch is a favourite of mine due to its simplicity and effectiveness. You can perform it with either one or both legs, following the descriptions below.
Single Knee-To-Chest Stretch
Double Knee-To-Chest Stretch
3. Cobra Pose
Sometimes, sacroiliac joint pain is due to hypermobile joints in menopausal women. In such a case, strengthening exercises help improve stability and reduce pain. Yoga poses are particularly useful in this regard, provided care is taken not to overdo them, and the cobra pose readily comes to mind.
Walking is easier on the sacroiliac joint than running or jogging and can be easily incorporated into your schedule. For example, you can stop one block from your destination and walk the rest of the way, walk to lunch, or simply take a light 20-minute walk around your neighbourhood at the end of your day. For all its simplicity, walking offers significant benefits when it comes to easing different kinds of joint and back pain.
Plan to take a walk for about 20-30 minutes. Ensure you maintain a slow pace and use comfortable, low-heeled footwear that properly support your foot arches and keep your feet neutrally aligned.
Stop if you notice any pain. If you are pain-free, you can increase the pace or the time you spend walking.
Bridging focuses on strengthening the gluteal muscles, helping to stabilize the pelvis and relieve sacroiliac joint pain.
6. Bird Dog Pose
The bird dog pose is an advanced yoga move that strengthens the lower back and core abdominal muscles supporting the pelvis.
You Can Be Pain Free
You don’t have to live with sacroiliac joint pain just because menopause has set in, and there things you can do to relieve this pain without pumping yourself full of pharmaceutical drugs. By performing these exercises, you not only achieve pain relief but also strengthen and stretch muscles that can improve your posture and keep you free of joint pain.