I got a really meaningful comment from reader Brooke the other day, on one of my older posts about Massage and Sacroiliac Joint Dysfunction.
I actually hadn’t read that post in a while, and two things struck me about it:
- First, I thought “Wow, that article is well-written” 😉
- Then, my next thought was, “Hm… actually, I never get massages anymore.”
A lot has changed, since I’ve learned how to stabilize my SI joints.
I wrote my original post in 2017, as I was really just beginning to grasp the idea that my SI joints could become stable, and I was trying to figure out how I could maintain that stability.
As some of my long-term readers will know, there also was a point when I thought Aquatic Therapy was really the only way to exercise and strengthen.
Now, my thinking on a lot of these topics has expanded, and my original posts don’t necessarily encompass everything I now believe.
I asked my readers what to do about this. You guys overwhemingly said that you like the older posts, because they let you read my whole story and see how my thinking changed over time. Instead of deleting the old posts, you guys requested that I leave them up and simply put a note to explain where my thinking has changed.
So today, I want to tell you how my thinking has changed on the subject of massage.
How I went from needing a massage every few weeks, to never needing them!
In fact, I actually can’t remember the last time I paid for a massage. (That’s nothing against my lovely massage therapist– it’s just that I haven’t needed it!).
Now that I’ve figured out how to stabilize my SI joints, things have gotten better in three key ways:
1. My muscle groups are balanced now.
When you’re in pain, the muscles around the painful area will often tighten up to try to protect you.
Even worse, when your SI joints are out of alignment, that actually alters the orientation of your muscles, and the position that they’re in at rest, when you’re not moving.
Every muscle in the body has an ideal resting position– kind of like its home base. When you change where this home base is, it can become very confusing for both our muscles and nervous system. Certain muscles will be underactive, whereas others will be overactive— leading to both weakness and spasm.
However, once you begin to stabilize the SI joints in their correct position, everything else starts to come back into proper balance.
Over time, as my SI joints became stable and stayed in alignment more and more of the time– and then basically all of the time– my muscles got to start spending more and more of their time back in their own proper alignment.
Instead of spasming, they got to return to their “home base” where they finally got a chance to relax when I wasn’t using them.
This let the overactive muscles finally catch a break. It also let the underactive muscles finally get a chance to step up and start do the job they were meant to do.
So over time, the more I could keep my SI joints in alignment, the more it helped my muscle balance come back more naturally.
2. Now, I have the flexibility to choose where– and when– I work out.
I probably never would never have noticed this if I didn’t stop doing pool workouts, but once Covid hit, I completely stopped going to my gym pool. Currently, the only swimming I do is outdoors– meaning I’m limited to the summer months.
As my long-term readers will remember, aquatic exercise used to play a huge role in my workout routine. After I first became injured, it was the first way I discovered to really get an intense workout, while being gentle on my SI joints.
Now, I know so much more than what I did then. While I’ll always think aquatic exercise is a great option, I thankfully no longer think it’s the only way.
In retrospect, I do think that swimming in the winter — or, specifically, swimming right before the gym closed and then having to rush home with wet hair, etc.– was also a big reason for my muscle tightness.
I used to have to go at the end of the night, because it was the only time the water was calm enough for my hypermobile joints. Then, I’d have a whole stretching routine I’d do at home in front of my space heater.
Over time, I learned how to keep the worst of the muscle tightness at bay, as long as I strictly followed that routine. But because those muscle spasms were my body’s main way of trying to keep me warm, after a while the tightness always seemed to build up.
Contrast to where I am now: due to Covid concerns, I no longer swim over the winter– and thankfully, I’m now able to get a great workout in in other ways.
3. Finally, I know how to release my own muscle knots– and fascia.
The third major piece that’s come into place is that now, I have a much better understanding of my own body, so that I know how to handle it myself when any tightness begins to set in.
I didn’t even know about fascia when I was first going through my SI joint saga. Looking back, I now realize that a lot of what I perceived as that chronic muscle tightness that always came back after a massage was actually restrictions in the fascia.
I’m going to have to more fully address fascia in another post, because it’s a pretty complex topic!
However, my friend who is a physical therapist taught me how to release fascia myself. It’s hard to put into words but after what she taught me, I have a much better sense of my own muscles and soft tissue. I can tell how fascia was responsible for some of those sensations I thought I needed to massage for, but which were never quite fixed by it (as it only treated the muscles).
Now, when it’s a little bit deeper of an issue that I can’t fully release with my own hands, one tool that I swear by is this Massage stick. I swear, this thing is really ingenious. (Specifically, I use the one labeled Marathon stick).
it will surprise you how you only need to roll the Stick over the area a few times to feel results. It breaks up the adhesions in muscles and fascia, and you might find it’s easier to use than a foam roller. I definitely recommend it!
So this is how it all came together.
- Overall, as I stabilized my SI joints and started moving more normally, a lot of my muscle imbalances started to calm down as a result.
- Now, I can choose where and how to work out — I don’t have to rush to use a pool in winter, just before they close.
- And I finally have a much better sense of how to work on myself– and I know that fascia was actually a big part of what I was feeling, in addition to muscle knots.
I’m so excited to tell you about how much better things are for me now!
If you’re new to my site, and want to learn more about how I stabilized my SI joints, check out How I healed my SI joints without surgery
What did you think of the post? Have you been experiencing muscle tightness along with your SI issues?
Let me know in the comments below!