What is sleeping position best for relieving back pain?
That all depends on a few factors. Which sleeping position do you prefer? Do you like the stomach sleeping position? Or do you prefer sleeping on your back or slide? Do you like to sleep on your back? Or do you like to position yourself on your side or back?
Regardless of the sleeping position you prefer, each has their own benefits and issues. Neck pain, back pain, hip pain, shoulder pain, knee pain, and the list can go on.
For the sake of this article, below I will list three main sleeping positions: A) Back sleeping position, stomach sleeping position, and side sleeping position. Also, I will briefly discuss the effects that can result from each sleeping position. Feel free to click on the ones that are most useful for you.
A) Best Back Sleeping Position Adjustments
“By far the healthiest option for most people, sleeping on your back allows your head, neck, and spine to rest in a neutral position” - sleep.org
Although widely regarded as the best sleeping position, less than 10% of people actually sleep on their back. Due to the repetition of daily activities done without correct posture, many people find the back sleeping position uncomfortable. An example is of posture being affected by our jobs and habits, is discussed in our other post about forward head posture,
Instead of the back sleeping position being the best, it becomes a source of lower back pain and neck pain.
Pain may result from this position because the lower back is flexed and elongated pass more than it is accustomed to. We discuss how sitting for long hours affects the hips, lower back, and more in a previous blog. This causes pain because most people have tightness and pain in this area due to lack of correct posture and movement in their daily activities.
If you experience lower back pain, a way to have to optimize the back sleeping position is to place a pillow under the knees. This helps keep your back at the same length as it is accustomed to throughout the day.
2) Neck Pain
If you are experiencing neck pain with the back sleeping position, it is likely to be related to forward head posture. As mentioned the linked blog post, forward head posture is a result of being hunched over all day.
The neck becomes accustomed to that posture, and neck muscles in the front are unable to comfortably tuck the chin such as in its natural posture position. sleeping position with neck aligned straight may be uncomfortable.
How do you fix neck pain issues from the back sleeping position?
If you experience neck pain, the best sleeping position fix for will be to adjust the pillow. The goal is for the upper back and shoulder be aligned with the neck and head. Over the course of days or weeks, slowly adjust the pillow so that the neck is aligned with its natural correct posture over time.
This allows the chin to tuck in. This, along with neck stretches and forward head posture corrective exercises, will help relieve and eliminate any neck pain.
Video about Forward Head Posture by CerebralBody
B) Best Stomach Sleeping Position Adjustments
3 Lower Back Pain
The stomach sleeping position can also be a source of lower back pain. That is because the stomach and spine are flat on the bed, and the pillow elevates the shoulders, neck, and head.
This sleeping position is not natural for us, and it will result in a curve in the lower back. This may not be an issue for people, but it will definitely aggravate any pre-existing back pain. As mentioned in another blog post, Poor Posture throughout the day will likely cause tightness in the lower back, as well as hip issues.
If you experience lower back pain and sleep on your stomach, adding a small pillow under your stomach will improve your sleeping position. This levels the lower back and keeps back less curved for a better posture while sleeping for preventing pain.
4) Neck extended sideways
This is probably somebody has experienced at some point in their life. Fall asleep in an awkward position. After waking up, you try and turn your head and it feels stiff and neck pain is present for perhaps the whole day.The cause and effect of this cause are clear.
Poor sleeping position = neck pain. Specifically, the neck is turned much more than the rest of the body, specifically the shoulders.
If you have a side sleeping position and experience neck pain often, placing a pillow to hug onto when sleeping may greatly relieve neck pain. This keeps the shoulders and neck incorrect posture alignment so that the head remains neutral in the side sleeping position. The result is less or no neck pain.
C) Best Side Sleeping Position Adjustments
This sleeping position is likely to the most common amongst people. Unfortunately, it is also the one that causes the most issues.
The human body is great at moving forward in a straight line. Yes, moving sideways laterally is something we can easily do too, but let’s see which one would win in a race.
This sleeping position, on your side, has the potential to wreak havoc the body, because it can really mess up the body’s natural and correct posture alignment.
5) Back Pain
As one tosses and turns in the night, they are doing it sort of a corkscrew twisting method. It may look something the image below, except you’re doing it completely unconsciously
If you have problems doing this stretch awake, then how much damage do you think it’s causing when you’re going through the motions repeatedly throughout the night
Placing pillows to use as a wedge will help maintain the side sleeping position and prevent any unwanted twisting.
6) Neck Pain
Too many pillows will result in aches in the neck such as for side sleepers because the head is lifted too far away from the shoulders and upper back resulting in neck pain.
Smaller pillows will help align the head with more natural sleeping position and reduce neck pain. Or placing the pillow in a different position will help align the neck in its natural posture.
Also, consider recommend memory foam pillows, as they can be very beneficial for keeping the correct posture for reducing neck pain.
7)Shoulder and arm pain
In the side sleeping position, a lot of pressure can be placed on the shoulder that is facing the bed. If you’re experiencing numbness or shoulder pain, it’s a sign that this sleeping position is causing you issues.
How to optimize sleeping position for shoulder pain? Using pillows to help leverage the body so that less pressure is placed on the shoulder.
It can be placed in the front of you can hug it and take the weight off the shoulder.
It can also be placed as a wedge on your back similar to the way to prevent twisting as mentioned in an earlier section lower back pain
8) Hip and knee pain
If the sleeping position is not maintained with correct posture, the body will get accustomed to favoring the side of the hips and knees that it is often positioned in. Knee pain may be one of the most common pain people experience.
Although many people are at a total loss as to why it happens, it is never a random or mysterious ailment that affects people. The posture alignment of the hips to the feet must be aligned to work properly together, or issues such as knee pain, plantar fasciitis, hip replacements, etc can be a result.
To learn more about this, view our other blog about this topic.
However, the point is, sleeping on the side, in conjunction with poor movement patterns, and poor posture habits, combine to form a mess that results in the knee pain, hip pain, or feet pain that so many people unfortunately experience.
To combat the knee pain that can be contributed to the side sleeping position, using knee pillows can be very effective. It creates the space and maintains the correct posture alignment of the hips, knees, and feet that may have been lost with side sleeping posture.
Conclusion: How soon will you see results from optimizing sleeping position
This is by no means a complete list of all sleeping positions and negative side effects that can result from them. Nor does this mean that the pain you experience is directly a result of the sleeping positions.
The daily activities that you do as part of your routine each day should be done with correct posture in mind. However, if you take what is learned here and previous posts, and continue to study other resources, improvements in well-being are guaranteed!