The sacroiliac joint belt is a lesser known tool that can be very effective at stabilizing and reducing pain, BUT it must be used correctly under the right circumstances.
What does an SI belt do?
The SI belt serves as an artificial locking technique through compression of the surfaces of the joints. These belts have been found in studies to reduce laxity of the sacroiliac joints and improve stability.
The theory for the use of a belt is that the surfaces of the sacroiliac joints are pressed together, which increases friction and reduces shearing forces.
Does the sacroiliac belt really work?
YES! In the video, I said that the biggest issue is whether you actually HAVE pain coming from the sacroiliac joints or not. Attaining an accurate diagnosis of pain from the SI joints isn’t that easy, simply because there isn’t an established “gold-standard” test.
Some people get significant and immediate reduction in pain once the belt is properly used, while others only have a minor reduction in pain, but often times there is some improvement in mobility or strength in the pelvic muscles. These are positive signs that you may benefit from the belt.
Is there a simple test to find out if the belt COULD work for me?
Yep! In the video above, I show a test that can be performed while lying on your back. Since the belt’s job is to compress the pelvis, we can mimic this action with a set of hands. Definitely ask someone to do this for you, which will be a much better test than attempting it on yourself.
Lay with your legs straight out. Lift your leg up from the floor in a controlled speed while assessing how it feels, both in terms of muscle strength, coordination, and pain levels. Test the other side as well.
Next, ask someone to gently compress your pelvic bones inward, toward your midline, and hold while you repeat lifting your legs. If there is improvement, then you will likely benefit from wearing the si belt.
Does it matter if I put the belt on standing vs. sitting vs. lying down?
Yes. I recommend only putting the belt on while lying on your back, AFTER doing your si joint corrective mobilizations.
How tight does the belt need to be?
Its important to understand that the emphasis should be placed on the position of the belt, NOT how tight it is. One study in particular showed that a belt with a tension of 100 N did not significantly differ from one at 50 N in terms of reducing sacroiliac motion.
More is NOT better in this case!
Which belt is the best?
They all do the same thing so its really a matter of comfort, since most people who benefit from it will wear it often. Nothing is worse than having to deal with a poorly designed belt that is constantly riding upward when you sit or move.
I personally like Serola. Now, I don’t have SI joint pain, so I can’t comment, but many of my clients like this belt.
Does relying on an SI belt make my own muscles weak?
No. Using a sacroiliac joint belt is not the same type of thing as a lumbar spine brace. SI joint instability is a ligamentous/joint problem. Since there are no muscles that directly move those joints, wearing the belt will not weaken anything. You can wear it 24/7 if you want.
That said, it does NOT mean you shouldn’t address the muscles that support the pelvis. In fact, this is the CRITICAL element. Without adequate muscle balance, strength, endurance, and coordination of the core muscles, you are very likely to have ongoing setbacks in your corrective process.
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