What made one of my SI joints lock up for the first time in 8 months?

Well, I had a feeling it was inevitable… I knew that, at some point, my SI joints were probably going to lock up again.  And, at the end of last week, it happened.

As is the case with most things that go wrong with the body, I think a combination of factors came together here to make this part of my body (temporarily) worse again.

What were these factors?

1) Tight muscles.

I now live in a very old and drafty colonial house.  While it’s beautiful, it’s cold.  After a whoppingly huge heating bill last month, we’ve been experimenting with keeping the thermostat set at 62 degrees.  Yes, 62 degrees.  We’ve been using space heaters in individual rooms, but it hasn’t been enough.

I’ve felt myself coming home from the pool, looking forward to going through my normal stretching routine, and finding that I’m so cold by the time I actually go to stretch that it doesn’t seem to end up doing much good.

My calves and hamstrings have tightened up like crazy.  The day my SI joint really went out of alignment, my hamstrings in particular were so tight I was sore just walking around.

Having a super tight muscle pull on the hip bone (or having a tight muscle pull on the sacrum, for that matter) can definitely pull the joint out of alignment.

As you can see in the pictures below, the hamstrings attach right on the bottom of the hip bones.   If the hamstrings are tight, they will exert more of a downward force on the hip bone than they are meant to.

330px-pulled_hamstring

2) I overused my lower back muscles, which are probably too weak.  

Since moving in, I’ve been doing a lot of cleaning and trying to clean up the place, trying to see how much my lower back muscles could handle, now that I’m getting back into shape.  And I definitely found the limit!  So, while my leg muscles were tight from the cold and not being adequately stretched, my lower back muscles were also going into spasm and pulling things out of alignment.

450px-lumbar_region_in_human_skeleton-svg

2) The time of the month.  

This is a subject I’ve been meaning to write about in its own post, but for the sake of giving you the complete picture, women’s hormones can affect how tight or loose their ligaments are.  (The technical term for this is ligament laxity).

Right before a woman gets her period, the body produces more of the hormone relaxin, which, in addition to telling the uterus to shed its lining, also tells her ligaments to loosen up.

This is why you may find your SI joints, or other musculoskeletal problems, are worse right before and during your period.

(Update: I did end up writing more on this topic in its own post— check it out!).

How am I going to fix it?

1) Well, luckily my period is over now, so at least I don’t have to deal with that until next month.

2) Turning the thermostat back up, because that was an epic fail.

3) I’ve backed off from doing things that I know will strain my lower back muscles again.  In the meantime, however, I’m going to keep doing my exercises in the pool so that these muscles get stronger… it’s the only way to make sure this doesn’t keep happening again.

Hope this was helpful! 

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