Back pain can be so debilitating that it not only affects a person’s waking hours but their sleep as well. To add to the problem, poor bed posture can worsen an aching back. So, what are the best sleeping positions if you have back pain? Our physical therapists answer this common question.
When you’re lying down in bed, make sure to maintain the natural curve of your spine by ensuring your head, shoulders, and hips are in alignment and you have sufficient back support. Most people can easily achieve this by sleeping on their backs. But, if you’re not a back sleeper, or if you dislike it because it causes you to snore, there are other options. The following postures and tips may provide relief.
- Sleep on your back with knee support. This distributes your weight and spreads it across the widest area of your body, which puts less strain on pressure points and gives you better spinal alignment. Lay flat on your back and keep your spine neutral. The pillow is important because it keeps the curve in your lower back.
- Sleep on your side with a pillow between your knees. This position helps keep your hips, pelvis, and spine in better alignment.
- Sleep in the fetal position. This is a useful position if you have a herniated disc. It helps, because the discs are soft cushions between each vertebra (the bones of the spine). By curling your torso in this position, it opens the space between each vertebrae.
- Sleep on your belly with a pillow under yourself. If you’re a fan of sleeping on your tummy but have been told it’s bad for your back, that’s partly true, especially if it’s adding extra stress to your neck. But it can help people with degenerative disc disease, if it relieves stress placed on the discs between vertebrae.
- Sleep in a reclining position. Although it may not seem like the best choice to sleep in a recliner, it can be beneficial, particularly if you have isthmic spondylolisthesis. It helps by creating an angle between your thighs and trunk, which reduces pressure on the spine.
Lower Back Pain & What to Remember When You Sleep
No matter what position you sleep in, it’s important to remember to keep your spine aligned, and notice the gaps between your body and bed that can strain your muscles (a pillow can fill the gaps). When you adjust your body in bed, be careful when twisting and turning. Keep your core tight and pulled in, and bring your knees to your chest as you roll to one side.
The pillow you use is also something you should take into consideration. For example, if you sleep on your back, try a thinner pillow with extra padding in the bottom to support your neck. Memory foam or a water pillow are good options for back sleepers. For tummy sleepers, consider a thin pillow or perhaps no pillow at all. A full body pillow may be an option, as it will help you stay aligned. If you’re a side sleeper, look for a firm pillow, and don’t forget another pillow between your knees (if you don’t have a spare, a rolled towel is a perfect substitute).
If you’re still suffering from lower back pain and adjusting your sleeping position doesn’t help, you may need the help of a physical therapist. Contact us for guidance about the best sleeping positions and exercises you can do to feel better. Call us at (732) 812-5200 today.