6 Popular Pain Relieving Moves for a Sore Sacroiliac Joint

Many people with sacroiliac (SI) joint instability report that it is a painful and debilitating experience — on a daily basis. From physical therapy to fusion surgery, the SI joint treatment field is booming with possible options.

As advances in medicine and surgery continue to be made, many of these solutions are high tech in nature. Just the same, many people find relief, whether temporary, permanent, or both, in a low tech way—with gentle, skillful body movement.


One Leg Knee to Chest Stretch Warm-Up

A woman lies in the supine position and stretches one knee to her chest.

Forgiss / Deposit Photos

It's generally best to start your SI joint exercise session with the easiest possible move. This is just good injury prevention because the body's tissues need to be warmed up before the joints can be safely stressed.

Warming up also provides a change to check your pain "barometer," or those feelings and sensations that help you put safety limits on what you allow yourself to do.

For sacroiliac pain, as well as many other types of back problems, lying supine—on your back—provides a lot of support. This, in turn, may help release excess tension that contributes to the misalignment.


In the supine position, bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor.

  1. Gently grasp one knee and bring it towards your chest. Don't worry—you don't have to get your knee all the way to the chest. Instead, go only as far as you can without pain or a feeling of insecurity. 
  2. Hold the position for a second or two and then set your foot back down on the floor.

What to Do If One SI Hurts

You will likely find that this move feels OK on one side but painful on the other. Again, the rule of thumb here is to move only within pain-free limits. If you have to skip one of the legs, that's fine.


Pull Both Knees to Your Chest

Woman holding her knees to her chest

Blend Images - ​Jose Luis ​Pelaez​ Inc / Getty Images

If you're back is up for it, which in part may be a matter of strong ab muscles, try the double knees to chest exercise.

Safety Comes First

Because you're doing this in the hopes of alleviating sacroiliac joint pain, the safest way to get into double knees to chest position is by bringing one leg up at a time. Bringing one leg down at a time is perhaps even more important for your safety. Unless your abs are very strong, excessive pulling on the joint may make your SI problem worse.


Start in the supine position again, with bent knees and feet flat on the floor.

  1. Bring one knee up towards the front of your trunk. (This is the same exercise as you did above.)
  2. Keeping that knee there, gently perform the same move with the other leg.
  3. Grasp both legs just under the knees and pull them towards you.
  4. Hold for a second or two, and then lower the legs, one at a time.

Be sure to let pain be your guide. If any part of this moves hurts your SI joint, stop.


Reset Your SI Joint

Stretch hip abductors by strengthening hip adductors.

nikitabuida / Deposit Photos

An often used folk remedy for a misaligned (and painful) SI joint is to reset it by igniting the adductor, aka inner thigh, muscle groups. Some people report getting short term relief from this move.


Begin in supine position with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.

  1. Place a soft ball or rolled up pair of socks between your knees.
  2. Very gently squeeze for a count of 5 and then slowly release.

Do about 3-5 of these, but let your pain be your guide. In other words, stop if it hurts.

One-Sided Hip Adduction for a Jammed SI Joint

Many yoga teachers teach us that a hypermobile SI joint is jammed on one side. To that end, they suggest opening the area up with adduction just of that hip. Adduction simply means bringing the thigh closer to the mid-line of your body. You can try that in a standing position by crossing the leg of the painful side in front of your body.


Stretching Outer Hip Muscles

Eye of the needle

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

A strategy that's related to adduction discussed above is to stretch your outer hip muscles. In the adduction strategy, you're engaging, or contracting, the inner thigh muscles.

Stretching the outer hip muscles, which are the opposing muscles to the inner thighs, may indirectly have the same effect as adduction, albeit in a less intense way. Plus, it can help release chronic tension that may be at least partially responsible for routine SI joint misalignment.

As with any one-legged move with SI joint issues, this exercise may be more painful on one side than on the other. Always move in a pain-free zone only.


Start in the supine position, with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor,

  1. Place the ankle of one foot on the knee of the other.
  2. Wrap your hands under the supporting knee.
  3. Using your abs, gently lift the supporting knee off the floor, going only as high as you can without pain at the SI joint.  That said, a little stretch type pain at your outer thigh can be a good thing. 
  4. Stay up for just a short time and set the leg down again.

Do up to 5 of these and then rest. Repeat on the other side


Twist Your Spine

A woman in the supine position twists her spine by bringing her knees to one side.

cirkoglu / Deposit Photos

If your pain levels permit, you can move from the supine hooklying position into a gentle spinal twist.


Start in supine position without bent knees.

  1. Take both knees a little ways to one side—generally, this is away from the painful side—and test to see if you can tolerate it. Stay only for a few seconds and bring your legs back up. 
  2. Move gently and thoughtfully; repeat only to tolerance.
  3. Repeat on the other side.

You might consider arranging some pillows or blankets in the area where your knees will go when you twist. This may offer up a bit more support, which, in turn, may help you relax excess muscle tension


Advanced Moves

Sidelying Quadricep Stretch

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

Taking the tension out of your quadriceps muscles may help alleviate some of your SI pain.

In the image above, the model is demonstrating the easiest type of quadriceps stretch, where you lie on one side and grasp your foot, ankle, or even your shin behind you, then gently pull it toward you. If you can't reach, consider using a strap or belt around your foot to extend the reach space.

This position is not for everyone. If you are not used to exercising and you have SI joint pain, you may want to forego the side-lying quad stretch as the position, more so than the stretch itself, may stress the joint.

The side-lying stretch is for beginners. If you're advanced you may want to try other quadriceps stretches.

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  1. Nejati P, Safarcherati A, Karimi F. Effectiveness of Exercise Therapy and Manipulation on Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Pain Physician. 2019;22(1):53-61.