Product Review: SIJ Compression Belt
A sacroiliac joint compression belt goes by many names. They are also often called SIJ belts, pregnancy belts, or pregnancy support belts. Basically put, they are a stretchy, fabric band that is strapped around your pelvis to offer support to the hips and sometimes the abdomen during pregnancy. There are many different styles out there. Some are simply wrapped around the pelvis, some have an additional strap that supports the perineum (like a girdle), and some go all the way up to straps on the shoulders. They offer varying levels of support, based on your needs.
How do they work? Ideally, a woman can create some tension/compression across the sacroiliac joints (SIJ) in the low back with the belt. The SIJ region can be a source of pain for pregnant women. There are many theories out there about why this is so, but all agree that this pain, sometimes called pregnancy-related pelvic girdle pain, can be a real nuisance to a woman’s ability to move and function comfortably. The compression of the belt may offer additional support to the pelvic girdle and reduce this pain.
Here is a good model from PhysioWorks.com.
I see women in my clinic all the time coming in with a pregnancy support belt on. Most, if not all, are wearing them incorrectly! These compression belts are not abdominal binders! They are meant to be worn below the belly and across the top half of the butt. Yep. That may feel low to you. But you are not meant to wear the belt as a low back support. It is meant to be a support to the pelvic girdle. That means, it better be down low enough to compress your pelvic bones. I wrote a separate blog about how to properly wear an SIJ compression belt.
Who may benefit from an SIJ compression belt? The majority of women will experience pregnancy-related pelvic girdle-pain or low back pain while pregnant. While I recommend that you take time for exercise and other conservative treatment for the pain, SIJ compression belts can also help many women manage this pain. Some types and locations of pain that may benefit from a compression belt include:
- Pain in the center of the low back, related to postural changes
- Pain on one or both sides of the low back (near the SIJs)
- Pain at the front of the belly where the ligament attachments get stretched during pregnancy
- Pain at the base of the belly at the joint of the pubic bone, called the pubic symphysis joint (PSJ)
Which style did I choose?
I searched at multiple stores in my area for a good compression belt. Let me tell you, it was pretty sparse. I ended up finding one on Amazon that had good reviews. It is called the Babo Care Breatheable Lower Back and Pelvic Support Belt. When shopping for belts, I was looking for one that was small, inconspicuous, and easy to get off and on. This one looked like it checked all of those boxes.
You may notice that even the model in the Amazon listing is wearing the belt pretty high up on the abdomen. Trust me on this. Wear it lower than they show.
How has it been:
There were many good things about this belt.
- It is very easy to get off and on, as advertised. There are belts on the market that take a small army to use. This is not one of those. It is simple to use, relying on a wrap-around, single velcro strap. I could easily do it with one hand anchoring a side and the other hand pulling the opposite side tight.
- It is very inconspicuous. This belt can go under clothes without drawing too much attention due to lumps and bumps. It also has no shoulder straps or girdle strap, so I could easily tighten and loosen it at work with just pulling up my shirt in the bathroom.
- It is a nude color, which also makes it inconspicuous. I think most are, but hey, I want to be thorough.
- It provides mild support. It is a good belt for someone with only occasional pelvic girdle pain, who benefits from mild compression and support.
- It is not super comfortable on the skin. While it is breathable, it doesn’t have a super comfortable fabric on the inside, so I definitely had to wear it outside of a tank top and under another shirt.
- It is only very mild compression. If someone needed more support for their belly in the front or a more intense compression across the SIJ, this belt would not be the one. I would opt for a belt with dual velcro straps where it can be put on and then cinched down again once in place.
- It moves quite a bit. Since this belt does not have additional straps, it tends to slide up and down with every movement. As a physical therapist, I stand up and down a lot throughout the day, and it seemed like it was always moving.
While this belt offered me some mild support, and I only had occasional pain, it seemed like a good choice for me. It is easy to get off and on, and it is very inconspicuous. But for most women, it will not provide enough support. Because of this, I ended up very rarely wearing mine. It seemed like there was not enough benefit from it to justify wearing extra layers of clothing and adjusting it all the time.