Back in late June 2015, I wrote about using a sacroiliac belt for pain in that joint. (See When the healer needs healing: chronic pain in a sacroiliac joint).
I posted a few updates. (See Update on using the sacroiliac belt, A cheaper sacroiliac belt, working toward “the new normal”, and SI belt update, plus insoles for Morton’s foot.)
It’s now January 2017, and I’m here to give you an update, prompted by a couple of comments I’ve received recently from readers who are suffering from SI joint pain.
I finally stopped wearing the belt last month, in December 2016. That’s right, I wore it most of the time for 18 months, a year and a half. My pelvis feels pretty aligned now. It’s not perfect but it is strong and tight enough that it stays in place . Since I started wearing it, I haven’t had that unstable, painful feeling of my SI joint going out of place.
Now I have that without wearing the belt.
The belt I ended up using more than any was a core wrap, measuring 4″ x 48″, made of stretchy neoprene with really good velcro. These are intended to hold hot or cold packs against the torso, but they work well as SI belts and are inexpensive.
I bought two of them, cutting them to fit with a few inches of overlap, and they are still in good shape.
My teacher/physical therapist told me back in 2015 that it could take a couple of years to train the joint back into alignment by wearing the belt and doing exercises. I stopped blogging about it, because (1) that’s discouraging, and (2) it was just going to take time, and I didn’t have anything very interesting to report.
I want you to know that it might not take you that long to heal your unstable SI joint. The reason she said that is because my accident occurred in 1996, so we are talking about 19 years of pelvic instability. 19 years! That affects a lot of other things in the body.
I’m nearly 64. It just takes longer to heal the older you get. The older body doesn’t produce as much collagen as it does when you’re young.
Maybe she exaggerated a tiny bit to impress on me the commitment it would take to finally recover.
Commit I did. Wearing the belt made me look slightly fatter. Sometimes the velcro rubbed my skin uncomfortably. It got hot and itchy at times. But it held my pelvis together tightly enough over time to retrain my uneven sacroiliac ligaments to shorten.
Some other things that I believe helped:
- I made bone broth using chicken, turkey, duck, beef, or lamb bones, drinking a hot cup daily or using it in soups and stews. Bone broth is laden with collagen, and it tastes great and is more versatile than a powder, which is handier in the summer when it’s too hot to cook.
- If I didn’t have bone broth on hand, I started taking collagen peptides every day. Collagen is the main component of ligaments and other connective tissues. Not sure, but maybe it slowed down my acquisition of wrinkles! People do say I look younger.
- I worked hard on my squats. At first, I had to work up to a full squat, and I just went half-way down to chair-level. Eventually I was able to go all the way down with my feet flat on the floor. I still do 20 squats several times a week and will benefit from doing them the rest of my life.
Tip for doing squats: I wrote earlier about how my squats were kind of creaky and my left and right leg muscles were not synchronized. If you do squats in a doorway with your hands holding the doorknobs with the door edge lined up with your midline and your eyes gazing at the vertical edge as you squat and rise, it helps your movements become symmetrical.
- I became much more aware of movements that strain the SI joints, like twisting, turning, and lunging.
- Besides squats, I do plank, pushups, and bridge to strengthen my core.
- I changed my habits, no longer standing with more weight on one foot than the other. I’m still working on not crossing my legs.
- I still sleep with the two body pillows and the Therapeutica sleeping pillow for good posture when I’m catching some zzzzzs.
- I do some yoga nearly every day. Slow mindful Sun Salutations are my jam. For a long time, I avoided the lunge, doing the Ashtanga-style jump back/jump forward. I’m good with the lunge now.
- I added tree pose because it helps my wobblier left leg become more stable, and I do bridge pose for glute strength.
- I’ve followed a Weston A. Price Foundation diet, which is anti-inflammatory, and currently am experimenting with a ketogenic diet (high fat, moderate protein, low carb) to lose fat and preserve muscle.
- I still wear the Morton’s foot insoles when I’m going to do much standing, walking, or hiking. My stamina has improved. I did a 4.8 mile hike in the mountains of Big Bend National Park in December with the SI belt on. I was tired afterwards, but I wasn’t feeling pain in my SI joint like I used to.
- My body told me it was time to test not wearing it. I forgot to put it on one night and the following day, felt fine, and figured I’d test not wearing it for a few days to see if the stability held. I put it back on once or twice, but haven’t since.
I hope this encourages all of you to know that if you really commit to healing an injury like this, no matter how old it is or you are, you can get better. Although our bodies are healing themselves all the time, there’s so much you can do to support that process.
My tagline: “All the world is full of suffering. It is also full of overcoming.” ~ Helen Keller