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You have one sacroiliac (SI) joint on either side of your body where your ilium and sacrum bones join together. Your sacrum is the wide, flat bone between your tailbone and lumbar spine. Your ilium is often referred to as your hip bone.

Unlike many other joints like your knee or elbow, your SI joint moves very little and is held together with thick ligaments. Sudden injuries or repetitive stress can cause the SI joint to become inflamed and painful. You may feel this pain in your buttocks or lower back.

Sitting for extended periods of time can lead to pain in your SI joint or aggravate existing pain. However, certain positions are less likely to cause pain than others.

Keep reading to learn the best sitting, standing, and lying positions if you’re dealing with SI joint pain.

The ligaments in your SI joint help transfer force between your trunk and your leg when performing activities like walking or running. If you’re dealing with SI joint pain, sitting in positions that put these ligaments under tension may lead to further pain and irritation.

Sitting in a chair

When sitting in a chair, you should aim to keep your hips neutral to avoid excess stress on the ligaments in your SI joint. Think about keeping your hips level with each other and avoid rotating more to one side.

Avoid positions that hike one hip higher or put create an asymmetry in your hips, such as when you cross your legs.

Here’s how you can sit with good posture to help manage SI joint pain:

  1. Sit with your chest up and your shoulder blades down and relaxed.
  2. Keep your knees slightly apart and uncrossed.
  3. Think about keeping both your “sit bones” in contact with your chair and the tops of your hips level.
  4. If your chair doesn’t support your lower back, put a pad or cushion behind your lower back.

Tailor’s position

The tailor’s position is another option for keeping your pelvis neutral and reducing stress on the ligaments on your SI joint. You should focus on keeping your hips symmetrical.

  1. Sit on the floor or another firm surface with your sit bones firmly on the floor.
  2. Cross your legs so that each of your feet is underneath your thighs.
  3. Keep your chest up and your shoulders relaxed.

Use a standing desk

If sitting is giving you pain, you may want to alternate between sitting and standing. If you’re using a standing desk, here’s how you can set it up:

  1. Adjust your desk so that the surface is at elbow height.
  2. Stand with your screen about 20 to 28 inches from your face and adjust your monitor so that your eyes are facing the top of your screen.
  3. Tilt your screen upward about 20 degrees.

Chair exercises and stretches may help you reduce pain and stiffness around your SI joint and help strengthen muscles around the joint.

Seated backbend

This simple seated backbend stretch may help you reduce lower back stiffness.

  1. Sit on the edge of your chair with your hands on your lower back and feet flat on the floor.
  2. Push against your lower back and inhale.
  3. Slowly exhale as you arch your spine and look toward the ceiling.
  4. Repeat this up to five times.

Seated cat-cow

The seated cat-cow stretches and strengthens the muscles in your back and core.

  1. Plant your feet on the floor with your knees at 90 degrees.
  2. Put your palms against your thighs with your fingers pointing toward each other.
  3. Take a deep breath and slowly exhale.
  4. As you exhale, arch your spine and look toward the ceiling.
  5. Inhale again as you roll your shoulders forward and think about bringing your belly button toward your spine.
  6. As you exhale again, reverse the motion.
  7. Repeat this up to five times.

Torso stretch

A seated torso stretch is an easy way to mobilize your spine.

  1. Put your feet on the ground and rest your right hand on the back of your chair.
  2. Turn your body toward your arm and hold for up to 30 seconds.
  3. Repeat on the other side.

Seated leg raise

  1. Sit tall at the edge of your chair with your feet flat on the ground.
  2. Lift your left foot a few inches off the ground and hold it for 10 seconds.
  3. Lower your foot and repeat on the other side.

Seated hamstring stretch

The seated hamstring stretch helps you loosen your hamstrings and may help alleviate pain from muscle imbalances.

  1. Sit tall at the edge of your chair with both heels on the ground and your toes facing up.
  2. Reach forward toward your feet until you feel a gentle stretch in the backs of your legs.
  3. Hold the position for up to 30 seconds.

If you spend a lot of time sitting at a desk, finding a comfortable office chair may help you reduce SI joint pain. You should look for:

  • Comfort. The chair should be comfortable enough that you don’t need to shift your weight constantly.
  • Back support. The chair should support your lower back when you’re sitting.
  • Height. You should be able to adjust the chair so that your eyes are looking at the center of your computer screen.
  • Armrest height. You should be able to comfortably rest your arms on the armrests without adjusting the height of your shoulders.

No matter what chair you’re sitting in, it’s a good idea to take frequent breaks from sitting about every 30 minutes.

Many people with SI joint pain find that it gets worse when they stand for extended periods of time.

Standing with good posture can help keep your spine in alignment and may help you manage your SI joint pain. When standing:

  • Keep a slight bend in your knees.
  • Keep your feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Distribute your weight equally between your feet.
  • Turn your toes out slightly.
  • Pull in your abdomen.
  • Take frequent breaks from standing.

It’s generally best to avoid sleeping on your stomach if you’re dealing with neck or back pain. Sleeping on your stomach puts more stress on your spine. If you do sleep on your stomach, try putting a pillow beneath your abdomen.

If you’re having SI joint pain on one side, you may want to sleep on your opposite side to take your weight off the joint. Putting a pillow between your knees and ankles can help put your hips in alignment.

Another sleeping posture to take the stress off your SI joint is to sleep on your back with one or two pillows under your knees to put your hips in a neutral posture.

If you’re dealing with SI joint pain, you should aim to sit with your hips neutral and with your lower back relaxed and supported. If your chair doesn’t provide support, you can put a pillow or cushion behind your lower back.

Even if you sit with perfect posture, taking frequent breaks about every 30 minutes is important.