Reader request: Pool exercises for the Sacroiliac Joint and Low Back

Note: I do not currently possess any medical certifications (although I hope to in the future!). I am simply one blogger sharing what has worked for her. Please consult your doctor if you have any questions about an exercise program!

Also note: At some point I intend to put up a more professional-looking version of these exercises.  This is the preliminary version that I wanted to put up sooner rather than later, in response to a reader request.

The Exercises:

Standing on a “noodle” on one leg and trying to balance (Core Exercise)

(I’m assuming most people know what a noodle is, but just in case: ).

When I first started doing this it was pretty hard just to stand upright.  As I got stronger over time, it became easier and easier so I had to add variations to make it more difficult.

As it gets easier, you can experiment with waving your arms around, kicking your other leg around, or leaning back and forth. You want to be at the point where you’re almost falling off the noodle but not quite. It’s your core muscles that will engage every time you “regain” your balance.

Note: I always felt this more in my core when I was first starting out, but my physical therapist promised it was also using the muscles of my whole back.

“Lying Down Superman” — Works your whole back

I do this exercise while floating on my back (so I can breathe). Instead of lifting arms and legs up off the mat, you are pushing them down into the water. I position a noodle underneath me, running across my lower back, so that it’s easier to float.

I am still somewhat out of shape, so for me, simply using the resistance of the water is enough. My arms and legs want to float, so pushing them down into the water requires some force.

If this is too easy for you, you can put some sort of floation device under your hands, feet, or both, to add more resistance as you push them down into the water.

Hip Exercises—Really important for Sacroiliac Joint

Remember what differentiates strength training from endurance/cardio is that strength training is based around doing a small number of repetitions (most people say between 8 and 15) where you’ve pretty much exhausted those specific muscles at the end.

This is different from cardio, where you can go for 20-30 minutes and you do feel tired at the end, but it’s more of a “whole-body” type of tired, and you could keep going if you had to.

For strength training, you really want to be at the brink of exhaustion (but it’s not supposed to hurt, so if it hurts, you need to back off or find another way to do it!).


There are many ways to do the following exercises. I looked around online and found several videos for each motion.

I have a feeling that the best thing for the person who asked for these exercises will be to do them while floating, so that she is not bearing weight through her sacroiliac joints.

The only videos I could find were of people doing these exercises on land. I am just including them for a visual aide… but preferably, in the pool, you would use some kind of floation device or noodle(s) to float and then let your legs hang down.

The 4 main motions you want to practice doing until the point of (relaxed, painless) exhaustion.

Hip Flexion: aka bringing leg straight forward in front of you

You can see the person in this video is using a band for resistance. I haven’t quite figured out how to use bands in the pool (what would I attach them to?). But you can experiment with finding other ways to create resistance if it’s too easy for you otherwise, like maybe adding ankle weights or ankle floats (which also create resistance)  This goes for the following 3 exercises too.

Hip Extension: aka pushing leg straight in back of you. Only go as far as is comfortable for you—don’t push through any pain.

Hip Abduction: aka bringing leg straight out to the side

Hip Adduction: aka bringing that same leg back down underneath you. Note: You don’t want to just let your leg fall back to its starting position. You want to be using muscle power, not gravity, to get it back down.

You can see how, in the video, the person is using an exercise band to create resistance—otherwise it would just be gravity causing the leg to fall.


The most important stretch I do: Knee to Chest Stretch

After I had been doing this stretch every day for a week, I started to notice a big improvement in how the area around my sacroiliac joints felt.

Hold for 15-30 seconds, repeat at least once.  Only do one leg at once– doing both legs at the same time really aggravated my SI joints.


I hope this was clear enough to be helpful.

If it wasn’t, you can always consult with a physical therapist about how to do things like “hip flexion” and “hip abduction” in the water.  These are basic terms which any physical therapist or personal trainer would understand.  (Go ahead, I won’t be offended!).

It’s not so important how you do these motions—in the pool vs. out of the pool, floating vs. standing in the shallow end, so much as you can find a way to practice them—to the point of exhaustion—without experiencing a big increase in pain.



3 thoughts on “Reader request: Pool exercises for the Sacroiliac Joint and Low Back

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