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The Best Sleeping Positions to Avoid Back Problems

woman holding her lower back in pain while sitting in bedIf you wake up in the mornings with an aching back, there is a chance your sleep position could be contributing to your pain. The average adult sleeps for almost 7 hours a night, which is ample time for a poor sleeping position to wreak havoc on your back. Fortunately, there are strategies you can use to doze off in a healthy sleep position, reducing your risk of back issues.

As a chiropractor in the Chesapeake region for more than 20 years, I have helped many patients successfully change their sleep positions to optimize their back health. In this article, I will share the best sleeping positions to avoid back pain.

Spinal Alignment and Sleeping Positions

More than any other factor, maintaining a good spinal alignment while sleeping is the best way to avoid an aching back when you wake up. Poor spinal alignment can strain the muscles, ligaments, and tendons in your spine, putting you at risk of back pain and other mechanical problems related to spinal imbalance.

For this reason, the best sleeping positions keep your spine in alignment while you snooze. This prevents the muscle strain that leads to pain when you wake up.

The best sleep positions for maintaining spinal alignment are:

Best Side Sleeping Position: With A Pillow Between Your Knees

Keeping a pillow between your knees while sleeping on your side helps align your pelvis, hips, and spine. In turn, your muscles avoid strain while you sleep, increasing your chances of a pain-free morning. If you notice there is a gap between your waist and the mattress, you can consider adding another small pillow there for extra support. However, you should avoid always sleeping on the same side, as this can also cause spinal imbalance.

It is important to choose the right pillow for side sleeping. The pillow should be fitted to keep your head and neck in a neutral position when you sleep. Otherwise, your head and neck can flex to the side, causing you pain in the morning. The neck strain from sleeping with your head laterally flexed can be similar to the neck strain from holding your phone between your shoulder and ear.

Best Back Sleeping Position: With a Pillow Under Your Knees

Sleeping on your back can help to relieve back pain because your weight is evenly distributed throughout a large area. However, it is important to keep a pillow under your knees while doing so to help keep the natural curves in your spine. If you need extra support, you can put a small pillow or a rolled towel under the small of your back.

If you are pregnant, you should avoid sleeping on your back as it can reduce blood flow to the baby.

Sleeping Positions to Avoid

Some positions can carry a higher risk of causing back pain. This is because they make it harder to keep your spine aligned in a natural position. These positions include:

  • Worst Sleeping Position: On Your Stomach
    When you sleep on your stomach, your head and neck are forced to twist to the side. Especially since you may be immobile for hours at a time when you sleep, this can add extra strain to your neck. For this reason, we recommend avoiding sleeping on your stomach. Instead, try one of the recommended back or side sleeping positions.
  • Worst Side Sleep Position: Fetal Position
    When you sleep on your side without a pillow between your knees, your spine is no longer in the correct alignment. Further, your weight is unevenly distributed, leading to potential back and joint pain. You can fix this position by sleeping with a pillow between your knees.

Keeping An Eye on Your Sleeping Positions at Precision Spinal Care

As a certified NUCCA chiropractor and spine management physician, I make sure to evaluate the root cause of your condition before coming up with a treatment plan. If your back pain is being caused or exacerbated by your sleeping positions, I will show you the best positions for you to avoid waking up with pain. I will also help you decide what kinds of pillows and mattresses are best for you to avoid back pain.

During your first visit, I will do a thorough examination of your spine. Afterwards, I will go over my evaluation with you in detail. Together, we will set reasonable expectations and milestones for recovery and further evaluation. We will also put together a treatment plan that meets your care needs. I will reevaluate you to make sure you are meeting your goals.

My experience and expertise in spinal biomechanics allow me to competently and safely address your back issues. I am a trauma and hospital-qualified spine management physician. I have credentials in MRI spine interpretation, spinal biomechanical engineering, and orthopedic testing through the Academy of Chiropractic. I am also a fellow in Spinal Biomechanics and Trauma which is recognized through the SUNY Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine.

If we determine that chiropractic is not the best solution for your needs, I will recommend the type of specialist who is most appropriate for you. I may also recommend other specialists that can be used in conjunction with chiropractic care to help you meet your needs.

We understand that you need to explore all your options when you are trying to treat your pain. At Precision Spinal Care, we are happy to help you determine the best way to address your specific needs and discuss all the options with you and your family.

Call our office at (757) 382-5555 to speak to the doctor or set up a consultation. You can also set up an appointment online here.

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