Kettlebell smashes and more for SI joint relief

In a moment of relief from Pandemic Time, here is an update on my SI joint injury that happened about a month ago.

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote that, despite my injury, I was immediately doing therapeutic movement, supported by my chiropractor (the luminous and brilliant Dr. Em Younes) and my personal trainer (the amazing Alex Boross-Harmer). Many people commented about their own SI joint injuries, and someone in the facebook thread asked me to share the mobility work I was doing. So I’m sharing. Much of this is Alex’s direct language, so huge thanks to her for the permission to share, and by the way, she is a brilliant coach — if you’re in Toronto, go see her!

  1. Ankle mobility. Dr Em’s diagnosis and initial therapeutic advice was that the injury that seemed to come from skipping (and before that, loaded front squats) actually stemmed from poor ankle mobility. (This was not the first time I have been tripped up by my ankle mobility). So my first exercises (her recos) were for ankle flexion.
  • wall lean ankle stretch — like this dude:
  • ankle mobilization that I can’t find online: kneel on a mat (or the floor) with one foot on the floor, the other kneeling; move the angled foot squatting, knee over toes, keeping your foot on the floor, and using your hand and body weight to increase your range of motion. make sure you are tracking the knee in alignment over the toes.
  • slow squats, loosely holding TRX for balance, practicing that same alignment and range of motion, and recruiting your glutes and hamstrings as you come up; if you can feel engagement in your inner thighs and core, you are shifting the pattern

The rest of this is from Alex; it’s been super super helpful to me — along with her encouragement and support.

Before anything else, start with one set of 6-8 SLOW body weight air squats. Check in with yourself and perform the following self-assessment:

  • How tight does each hip feel from 0-10?
  • How tight do my hamstrings and inner thighs feel from 0-10?
  • How tight or stuck do my ankles feel from 0-10?

After this self-assessment, complete the following sequence on ONE side of the body (ideally the tighter feeling side):

A) KB hip flexor smashing- lying on your front, the handle of the KB will “sink into” your abdomen, just above the hip bone. Play with the angle as needed, spending more time on any “radiating” or particularly sore spots. 


(Editorial: see that look on my face? this is super painful. It is also super super super effective).

B) KB hip adductor smashing- lying on your side, drape your top leg over the handle of the KB. Keep the angle of the KB handle perpendicular to the inner thigh, and start with the handle as close to the upper thigh as possible. Extend the leg fully and then bend at the knee, keeping as much weight on the handle as you will allow. Gradually shift the handle down your leg, completing a few flex and extensions at each point until the KB is just above the knee.

(2-4 mins)

C) KB calf smash- sitting on the floor, place one calf on top of the KB handle, starting with the handle just above the Achilles’ tendon, or a few inches above your foot. Similar to the smashes above, place as much weight as you can handle onto the KB and slowly roll your ankle around (full circles, flex and extend the foot, and roll the leg side to side). Gradually shift the KB further up your calve, repeating these motions every few inches. Spend more time on particularly sore areas as needed.

(2-4 mins)

When you are done these three mobility exercises, re-do your body weight squat assessment. Do you notice any changes? Where do you feel the biggest changes?

Complete the other side of the body, then reassess your squats one more time.

After these mobilization exercise, Alex has given me a menu of stretches, including lunge and twist, banded glute bridges, inchworm/downward dog, and banded side steps — followed by activation for whatever movement I am going to do.

After two weeks of focusing on this repair work, I’m back to almost normal. In my lower back, anyway. I do have a sore throat, cough, headache and slight fever.

We live in interesting times.

Fieldpoppy is Cate Creede, who is trying not to touch her face in Toronto.

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