Sacroiliac joint pain is an aggravating condition.
Staying active can help ease SI pain, but many find lying in bed and trying to sleep difficult.
Pain can interfere with healthy sleep, so in this article, we’ll share tips for how to sleep with SI joint pain.
The sacroiliac joint is where the small dimple is at the top of the butt cheeks, where the sacrum and ilium bones meet. It’s at the juncture between the spine and the pelvis. This joint absorbs impact from running, walking, lifting, and jumping.
In this article, we’ll provide a series of practical tips for easing SI joint pain and improving sleep.Both men and women suffer from sacroiliac joint pain. The SI joint can be injured by a combination of compression and rapid turning, such as twisting while lifting a heavy object. Osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis (an autoimmune disorder), pregnancy, obesity, and poor biomechanics can also cause pain.
SI Joint Pain Symptoms
SI joint pain often manifests as a constant dull ache in the buttocks, hip, and lower back, usually on one side of the body.
Some people experience a sharp, stabbing pain, tightness, stiffness, numbness, burning, tingling, or weakness that can be aggravated by something as simple as rolling over in bed.
SI Joint Pain Relief for Sleep
If painful joints interfere with sleep, find relief with stretches, different sleeping positions, and support.
Hip Flexor Stretches
Many people have tight iliopsoas muscles (the psoas and iliacus muscles, the most powerful of the hip flexors.
- The psoas muscle extends from the spine through the pelvis, to the femur
- The iliacus muscle reaches from the front top of the pelvic bone to the hip
Loosen the hip flexors before bed to help balance the flexibility of the musculature around the hips. The hip flexors are the muscles along the front of the upper thigh. They work together to stabilize the hips. Overly tight hip flexors make it harder to rotate the pelvis properly.Never stretch cold, stiff muscles. Take a 10-15 minute walk to get your blood flowing and limber up your body. Stretch only after you’ve warmed up.
Half-Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch
- Kneel on the floor on a cushioned surface like a carpet or yoga mat in the "wedding proposal" position with your right knee bent at a 90 degree angle, right foot flat on the floor, and your left knee on the floor with your shin pointed straight behind you.
- Squeeze your glutes, feeling the pelvis “tuck” under you. Maintain a tall upright upper torso.
- Gently push your hips forward (do not lean forward) until you feel a stretch through the front of your left thigh and hip.
- Hold for 30-60 seconds and repeat on the other side.
Standing Hip Flexor Stretch
- Stand next to a wall or chair with your left hand holding on for support.
- With your feet shoulder-width apart, bend your right knee, bringing your foot up toward your butt.
- Grasp your ankle and bring your foot as close to your butt as possible.
- Without arching your back or putting strain on the knee, gently push your right hip forward until you feel a stretch in your right thigh and front of the hip.
- Hold for 30-60 seconds and repeat on the opposite side.
The Best Sleeping Positions for SI Joint Pain Relief
There is no perfect sleeping position for SI pain sufferers. And even if there were, some people would not sleep well in that position. However, stretching before bed and using pillows to bring the pelvis into better alignment at night may help.
Sleeping on your side puts more pressure on the bottom hip. Try sleeping with the affected side facing up to relieve that pressure. Placing a pillow between your legs can open the angle of the hips and put your pelvis in a less uncomfortable position.
If you prefer sleeping on the painful side, try rolling over slightly toward your belly button, and bringing your “good” leg up toward your chest in a half-fetal position (the leg on the bottom stays straight).
Stomach sleeping is the worst position for SI pain because it over-arches the back and compresses the SI joints. If you just can’t sleep on your back or side, try putting a soft pillow under your hips to put your pelvis into a more neutral position.
Placing a pillow under the hamstrings (between your butt and knees) can tilt your pelvis into a more natural position and relieve pressure on the SI joints.
People who change positions frequently at night may find that changing positions slowly can help. Keep an extra pillow or two handy to place between your legs when on your side, under your hips (while on your stomach) or under your hamstrings (when on your back).
Daytime Reduction in SI joint Pain
Paying attention to posture and strengthening the core are essential.
Sitting too long, especially with poor posture, can aggravate sacroiliac dysfunction.
Take frequent breaks. Get up every 30-45 minutes, walk around and do a quick stretch.
SI Joint Pain Relief When Sitting
Many of us simply sit too much. Here's what you can do to mitigate the effects of sitting.
Hip flexor stretches are the best way to relieve sacroiliac pain while sitting or appears after sitting for prolonged periods.
Use the stretches listed above and add a piriformis stretch.
Piriformis muscles connect the sacrum (the lumbar spine) to the hip along the back of the pelvis. They also get tight during long periods of sitting.
- Lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor.
- Cross your right ankle over your left knee, keeping your right foot flexed.
- With both hands, gently pull your left knee toward your chest until you feel a stretch in your right glute and hip.
- Hold for 30-60 seconds. Release and repeat on your left side.
Maintain Good Posture
Check your posture often. Whether you’re sitting, standing, or walking, adopt the regal posture of a King or Queen: head high, chest out, shoulders back, and abs in with a natural curve to the lower back.
Apply Ice and Heat
Place an ice pack on the lower back, followed by a heating pad. This combination relieves pain and stimulates "heat shock proteins" that are part of the healing process.
Use a Lumbar Pillow or an Ergonomic Chair
Using a lumbar pillow or a chair with lumbar support aligns your pelvis and lengthens tight hip flexors.
Wear an SI Brace
An SI brace can help with posture, pelvic stability, and natural alignment to prevent excessive movement of the SI joint. However, braces aren't substitutes for building core strength and flexibility.
Use a Kneeling Chair or Standing Desk
Kneeling chairs open the hip angle and promote a good sitting position. Standing desks are an opportunity to do a quick hip flexor stretch while working.
Open Your Hip Angle
Sitting with the thighs parallel to the floor shortens the hip flexors. Raise your chair or add a cushion to lower the knees, and tuck your feet under the chair.
A physical therapist can prescribe core-strengthening exercises to stabilize this incredibly active yet vulnerable area.
Yoga Poses for Tight Hip Flexors
Several yoga poses loosen and balance muscles. Work with a trained yoga instructor to correct posture and muscle flexibility/strength imbalances.
Long-Term Solutions for SI Joint Pain
Some of the best treatment options for healthy hip joints involves staying active, equalizing muscle strength, loosening tight muscles, and strengthening the core.
A long-term treatment plan requires addressing the root cause(s) including misalignment, muscle strength imbalances, muscle flexibility imbalances, poor biomechanics, excess weight, and weak core muscles.
Women who develop SI joint dysfunction during pregnancy should focus on core strength postpartum to regain stability in the area.
Red Light Therapy Solutions for SI Joint Pain
Red light therapy uses therapeutic wavelengths of red and near infrared light to stimulate beneficial biological processes that can help ease pain and support healing. Hundreds of studies demonstrate the benefits and safety of red and near infrared wavelengths.
How Red Light Therapy Can Relieve SI Joint Pain
Red light therapy takes a comprehensive approach that treats the symptoms and the underlying causes. As the light absorbs into the body, it:
- Stimulates cellular metabolism, increasing cellular energy production so that cells can perform at their best, repair themselves, and regenerate.
- Reduces inflammation.
- Increases circulation which supports cellular functioning and removes toxins and waste.
- Stimulates an analgesic effect, offering pain relief.
- Promotes collagen synthesis, which can rebuild SI joint cartilage.
Since it supports muscle performance and recovery, it can help relieve pain caused by osteoarthritis, aids with weight loss, and even rebuilds cartilage, this non-invasive, natural treatment can complement doctor-prescribed joint therapies.
Integration of the PlatinumLEDs biomax panels have the ability to significantly reduce inflammation and pain which has directly led to my patients experiencing shorter plan of care durations when compared to the traditional rehabilitation protocols. Furthermore, my patients report a more enjoyable healing experience.
Functional Medicine Doctor of Physical Therapy
Dr. Alayna Newton, PT, DPT, FAFS
Take a look at the BIOMAX series panels to learn more about how they can help you.
How to Use Red Light Therapy to Relieve SI Joint Pain
You'll need a powerful LED light therapy panel, and frequent regular treatments.
A Powerful LED Light Therapy Device
LED panels deliver intense near infrared light deep into the muscles, ligaments, cartilage, and bone of the pelvis. Wraps and other low-powered devices will not work on SI pain because they don’t have enough light energy output to affect deep tissues.
You will get the best results for further pain relief with these powerful panels, which deliver the most potent combination of red and near infrared wavelengths.
Since red light therapy works at the cellular level, you’ll get the best results with daily treatments.
Sit or stand in front of a powerful LED light therapy device for 3-20 minutes daily. You can do yoga or stretch while doing red light therapy at home: a perfect way to relax after a long day. And, red light therapy promotes good sleep.
You may experience fast relief from sacroiliac joint pain, but the best results come over time, in conjunction with professional medical advice.
Discover more about red light therapy on the PlatinumLED Therapy Lights Learn page, including greater detail on how it works.
Living Pain-Free with Red Light Therapy
Red light therapy can be an important part of treating SI pain. Its powerful anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties have helped people with osteoarthritis knee pain, temporomandibular (jaw) pain, and low back pain live pain-free with restored mobility.
Check out the BIOMAX Series panels to see the best consumer RLT devices on the market.
If you have a home sauna, take a look at the SaunaMAX Pro, the first consumer panel designed to be placed in saunas for in-sauna treatment.
As a bonus, red light therapy has dozens of additional applications from head to toe that you can treat in the comfort of your own home. Check out the PlatinumLED red light therapy panels to help you sleep better without SI joint pain.
Q: How can I stop my SI joint pain at night?
A: A combination of stretches to loosen tight hip flexors, awareness of posture and biomechanics (such as sitting or lifting), and red light therapy can realign your pelvis, balance muscle strength and flexibility, and relieve inflammation.
Q: Does SI joint pain get worse at night?
A: In most cases, pain isn’t necessarily worse at night. It’s simply more noticeable because there are fewer distractions. A bedtime routine of stretching and red light therapy can relieve muscle tension that aggravates SI pain.
Q: What position relieves SI joint pain?
A: There’s no perfect sleeping position; however, using pillows between your legs (side-sleeper), hips (stomach-sleeper), or hamstrings (back-sleeper) can help.