A topic people ask me about pretty frequently is SI joint belts. These belts are meant to help stabilize the SI joints in place, so the ligaments and other tissues can heal.
It’s important to remember that SI joint recovery is really individualized– what works for one person may not work for another.
So I will tell you that I personally did not find belts helpful. However, I do know many people who feel they really do help, so I wanted to pass on what I learned about them. I do think the belts are worth trying for anyone with SI joint dysfunction.
Wear the belt once you are in alignment
Ideally, you’d try the belt on for the first time under the supervision of a physical therapist. I’ve heard a lot of people say it’s important to wear them once you’re already in alignment. (This means your two hip bones are in the correct position relative to the base of your spine, or sacrum).
It’s important to make sure everything is lined up correctly, because strapping a belt onto a pelvis that’s already out of alignment won’t necessarily help to fix anything– it will just be helping to stabilize things in the wrong place.
However, if you wear the belt when your joints are in alignment, it will help to hold everything in the proper position. This helps to reduce some of the strain on your ligaments and will allow you to move better, overall.
Some particular brands I’ve heard good things about:
One thing I’ve learned from all of you, as well as my PT mentors, is that SI joint belts were not all created equal. Some people can see a really dramatic improvement when they switch from one to another.
A lot of my readers and coaching clients also seem to have really good luck with the Serola belt. I know of quite a few people who switched to it after trying other brands, and they said it provided much more of a benefit and held up much better over time.
Dr. Serola (creator of the Serola belt) actually has a lot of info up online sharing his perspective. He goes really in-depth on how to optimize ligament healing and reduce inflammation in the joint– it’s defintely worth checking out.
So these two brands would be my top recommendations for anyone looking to try a belt.
The links I included above will take you to Amazon, where they currently allow you to try the belt out and return it if it doesn’t work (although please double-check that’s still the case before you place your order!).
Again, I do think the belts are definitely worth investigating. It’s one of those things where the only way to know for sure if it will help you is to try.
Although I personally concluded that belts weren’t helpful, I 100% believe the success stories I’ve heard from PT’s and patients alike, so I do believe they are worth trying.
“Does wearing an SI belt make your muscles weaker?”
A question I’ve heard people ask sometimes is whether the belt can cause muscle weakness, if wearing it stops you from using your muscles.
This is generally not a concern I ever heard from my own PT’s. The reasoning is because, if it works, the belt will actually help you to start moving more, not less.
In the long term, the goal of any rehab program is going to be to strengthen your muscles so that they can eventually hold the joint in place, and you won’t need the belt as much.
You can do this with specifically-designed exercises that are gentle on the SI joints (for more info, check out my Strengthening page!). As long as you’re working on a strengthening program, I would generally not expect the belt to make you weaker.
However, this is again why it’s so important to work with your own PT and come up with a plan that’s best for you.
You may have to do some experimentation in order to figure out when to wear the belt and for how long. Some people wear it all day and take it off only to sleep. Some people only wear it during exercise, or activities they’re likely to find aggravating.
Again, this whole process is incredibly individual, but stick with it! It’s just a matter of trying different things until you figure out what works for you!
What do you guys think? Have you had an SI belt success story? Is there another belt you’d recommend?
Let me know in the comments below!