Pros: Comfortable, easy to put on, not noticeable and does a great job supporting the SI Joint
Cons: Can feel a bit constricting if you tighten it too much or when wet after a workout.
I am a skeptic at heart when it comes to some medical devices. The sacroiliac joint is located in the lower back at the point where the sacrum (the bottom plate of the spinal column) joins the ilium (the large hip bone. There are ligaments that stabilize the joint, but it is basically bone on bone with a little buffer area.
I first hurt my sacroiliac joint in high school. I was running track and doing hurdle practice outside in the winter. I skidded on ice and went down hard. I did not know it at the time, but, the joint was displaced slightly on my right side and became inflamed. The next day, during a meet, it hurt so badly it could barely walk or stand up straight. It felt like I was being stabbed in the hip. I went to the doctor and first learned about the joint. However, relieving the pain was not easy. Over the next 10 years, I saw several doctors, a chiropractor and finally a really good physical therapist. The PT showed my how to pop it back in place and also what exercises and stretches to do to keep it stable. Basically a strong core helps. Stretching the quads and psoas muscle, which joins the lower spine to your groin, reduces stress on the joint.
It flares up often. I've had two cortisone shots in the last 5 years. But to relieve pain, I use ice and stretch the muscles. I tried a another belt a number of years ago. it was bulky and uncomfortable, and it did not help at all. I've basically just lived with this for 38 years. In golf, it is the follow through that can irritate the joint. The action of thrusting the hips forward, turning and then pushing the belt forward and up puts stress on the joint. Carrying a bag and even standing around for a long time can irritate the joint.
So needless to say, I am skeptical.
Serola Belt Design
This belt is different. It is a non-elastic belt with a second set of elastic belts that run from the back to the side. It is shown below (photos from the serola.net site).
It is designed to be worn low on the back running over the SI joint as seen below. Please note it is not me in the picture below.
To put it on, you simply wrap it around your hips just above where the leg joint bends, and secure the non-elastic belt with velcro in the front. Then you detach the side velcro for the left and right elastic belts, stretch them and reattach. Simple. It rides low on the hips, feel snug at first, but then you get used to it. One curious omission from the instructions and video was whether to wear the belt over clothing or against the skin. Maybe they didn't want to show a naked guy putting the belt on (I agree), but that should be noted. So, I tried it both against my skin and over my boxer briefs, but under my shorts while golfing. At the gym, I had it on over my shorts. Direction are below.
I did not take a picture of myself with it on (fully clothed of course) because you would not have noticed the belt at all. It also did not affect the fit of my shorts because the belt hangs low on your hips. Now if you are one of those guys that has your pants hanging way down on your hips (I'm talking to YOU, my son), then you may have a problem.
From the site:
I first tried the belt around the house. Just to get the feel of it. It feels snug at first, but then as I moved around and did chores, it became less noticeable.
Next I took it to the range, I put the belt on against my skin at work. I got in my car, changed into my shorts, which is routine for me, and drove to the range. It was a bit awkward changing with the belt on, but not impossible and the belt did not really move. At the range, I was aware of the belt at first, but as I went through my drills, I did not notice it at all. What I did notice was my SI joint did not have the familiar ache at the end of the session. I was pleasantly surprised. At this point, I went to the bathroom and removed the belt. I sweat a lot, so it was a bit uncomfortable at this point.
The next day I put it on the same way and played 9 holes with my league. Again, during the round I did not really notice the belt. I did not ache at all in the SI joint after the round. It was hot and humid and I did need to remove the belt immediately after the round.
The next range session, I put the belt over my boxer briefs. I was concerned that it would slip, but it did not. It was more comfortable this way as well. Again, the belt performed as advertised. It took stress off the joint by preventing the joint from moving more than it should. With someone like me, who has had the joint displaced, this really helps. It almost acts like a weight belt but targets the SI joint.
The next round of 9 holes, I wore it as above. It worked just as well over the briefs. At the end of the round, I took it off because I really didn't need it to sit, have a beer and trash talk the other guys!
I wore it at the gym the next day for my routine workout with a few golf specific exercises. I wore it over my shorts. The belt did not slip during most exercises, but I did have to readjust it after doing some lower body hip exercises with a stability ball.
Finally, I wore it for an 18 hole round. I walk 18 when my knees let me and it's not too hot, but this round I rode in a cart. Interestingly enough, cart riding never helped my SI joint. I would still ache on occasion at the end of the round. This round, the belt performed well again. It did get a bit uncomfortable, and so did all my clothes, because we got poured on twice during the round. I felt like I dove in the Merrimack River by the 18th. The SI joint, however, was happy as a clam. Not sure why clams are happy, but that is a New England expression for "wicked happy".
There is one other point that needs to be said. The belt does make it a bit tricky to go to the bathroom (talking number 1 here guys). You have to rearrange your briefs and belt after. I just thought you should know this.
The Serola belt will now become part of my normal routine. I highly recommend it for anyone with SI joint issues. If you have SI joint problems, core strength and stretching are mandatory. Cortisone shots, NSAIDs, and ice all treat the symptom, but not the cause of pain. My SI joint will always be susceptible to irritation. But this belt has shown that it can support the joint during exercise and the high stress golf swing. It works as advertised. The belt keeps the pesky SI joint in place. It is fairly comfortable, inexpensive and easy to put on. No one will know you are wearing it either.