Sleeping Positions That Help Prevent Lower Back Pain
by Patty Weasler, RNAugust 13, 2019
Lower back pain can affect every aspect of your life and can be caused by many factors, including how you sleep. Poor sleeping posture can cause low back pain or make current pain from medical conditions worse by putting additional pressure on your spine, neck, hips and back. Keep readings to learn the best sleeping positions to prevent lower back pain and provide pain relief
What Are The Benefits Of Sleeping With A Pillow Between Your Knees
When you sleep on your side, your knees naturally fall together, which can cause your spine to misalign. It may be comfortable for a while, but it can be hard on your back after some time, especially if you aren’t sleeping on the right mattress for a side sleeper. With a pillow between your knees you can keep your back in proper alignment.
Head Size Shoulder Width And Weight Factors
The size and shape of your body are important considerations when it comes to choosing the right pillow. People with small to average sized heads may prefer medium height pillows to feel the most comfortable. Individuals with larger noggins may find that they sink too deeply into average pillows and often prefer higher lofts that can adequately support their heads.
Similar to head size, people with narrow shoulders often prefer lower or medium height pillows that keep the head and neck in a neutral position with the spine. Having broader shoulders may create unnecessary gaps between the head and the pillow, but a higher loft could help to support the head and provide the extra space they need.
Body weight is also a factor when it comes to shopping for the right pillow. Lighter individuals are less prone to sink into the mattress and tend to prefer medium-loft pillows that will help to promote optimal spinal alignment. Those with heavier weight considerations are more likely to experience sinkage and may find a lower-loft pillow helps to keep the head even with the spine.
Don’t Miss: Herniated Disc L4 L5 Hip Pain
Best Sleeping Position For Lower Back Pain According To The Experts
The best sleeping position to reduce pain and avoid injury is on your side, according to research. If you sleep on your back or stomach the risk of developing back pain increases by 23 percent. Side sleeping positions can be made more comfortable with a thin pillow between the knees.
People who suffer from acute or chronic lower back pain may find that sleeping propped up slightly with pillows brings relief.
Both sleeping positions are considered neutral. Other positionsincluding lying flat on ones back, lying flat on ones front , and having legs elevated have been studied, but found to worsen symptoms of lower back pain.
On Your Stomach With A Pillow Under Your Pelvis
Sleeping on your stomach has a bad rap when it comes to back pain. It can cause excessive curving of your spine, Dr. Womack says. But, he adds, this position is doable if you place a pillow underneath your pelvis . You can even skip the pillow under your head if youre comfortable with it, to further keep things in alignment.
Read Also: Pain With External Rotation Of Hip
Pillow Under The Back Of Your Knees
If you struggle with side sleeping because of poor alignment or maybe because it feels uncomfortable, try sleeping on your back with a pillow under your knees for support. This will help keep your back from arching and will keep your hips aligned while you sleep. Sleeping in this position reduces pressure on your lower back and stress on your spine because it supports the natural curve in your lower back.
What Can I Do To Relieve Lower Back Pain In The Morning When I Wake Up
It can be a little tough on your back to start moving again after seven or so hours of sleep. In general, doctors say stretching your hamstrings can help loosen things up. They tend to tighten up when we have back issuesits a protective mechanism, Dr. Womack says. Stretching the area will help take the pressure off your back, he adds.
Wall slideswhere you stand with your back up against a wall, and slowly raise your arms up and down on the wallcan also help get you in alignment in the morning, Dr. Anand says.
If you have a condition like spinal stenosis, which is a narrowing of the spaces in your spine that can put pressure on your spinal cord and the nerves in your spine, touching your toes will feel great on your back, Dr. Anand says. Just keep this in mind, per Dr. Anand: If you feel pain when youre stretching, stop.
The bottom line: If you struggle with lower back pain, focus on keeping your spine straight and your knees, hips and neck in alignment.
Read Also: Hip Replacement Cost Without Insurance
It’s The Wrong Firmness Level
Is it difficult for you to get comfortable in bed at night? You may be sleeping on the wrong type of mattress. Even the most expensive luxury mattress can create unpleasant aches and pains if it’s the wrong match for your preferences and body type.
Per Dr. Lees, there should not be any gaps between your body and the mattress, and you should be able to lie in a natural position without any torque in your back. If your mattress is in otherwise good condition, adding a mattress topper will instantly make it softer or firmer at a fraction of the cost of a brand-new bed.
How To Sleep With Lower Back Pain
Jenny Iyo, Physical Therapist
Our team of writers, editors, and medical experts rigorously evaluates each article to ensure the information is accurate and exclusively cites reputable sources. Learn More
We regularly assess how the content in this article aligns with current scientific literature and expert recommendations in order to provide the most up-to-date research.
Our medical review team has recently evaluated this page to ensure accuracy. We will continue to monitor and revise this article as new literature is published on how back pain impacts sleep.
The lower back features an interwoven series of structures. It includes the five vertebrae of the lumbar spine, each of which is bolstered by shock-absorbing discs and held in place by ligaments. Surrounding muscles offer support and are connected to the spine by tendons. Nerves run through the spinal column to deliver signals throughout the body.
The lower back supports most of the bodys weight and is integral to all kinds of movements. Whether standing, sitting, walking, or lying down, the lower back plays a role in mobility and comfort.
Given the complexity of the lower back and how much we depend on it, it comes as no surprise that it is a leading hotspot for pain. Eight out of 10 people have back pain at some point during their life, and lower back pain is one of the top reasons why people see a doctor.
You May Like: Hip Pain In The Morning
Therapeutica Orthopedic Sleeping Pillow White Size: Petite
This Orthopedic Firm Sleeping Pillow from Therapeutica is designed to help restore the natural curve of the neck during a good nights sleep.Created with an ergonomic design along with a doctor of chiropractic, this cervical neck support pillow is ideal for those who sleep on their back or side.
The unique molded foam design includes 3 distinct areas to help reduce neck pain and stiffness.A gentle incline of the wedge extension supports the upper spine, the firm cervical contour supports the neck, and the contoured headrest with airflow channels helps keep the head level.
This pillow comes with a machine washable, soft, fitted, zip-open cover that can be easily removed for washing.The Orthopedic Firm Sleeping Pillow from Therapeutica offers a comfortable, yet supportive nights sleep.
|10.75 inches , 23.75 inches , 5 inches thick
Reviews From Real Customers
St Position Sleeping On The Back:
- Sleeping on your back is the best sleeping posture because it helps distribute weight evenly across the body and keeps proper alignment of your head, shoulders and hips.
- For the head: Use a thinner pillow to make sure your head doesnt protrude forward which can contribute to forward neck posture.
- For the lower body: Use a pillow under your knees, to avoid your low back from hyperextension, which can contribute to Anterior pelvic tilt.
Don’t Miss: How To Lose Hip Fat Men
Best Sleeping Positions For Back Pain
The best sleeping position for lower back pain is widely considered to be on your back. This position distributes the weight along the entire spine. Placing a pillow under your knees will help to maintain the natural curve of the spine.
For those who sleep on their side, placing a firm pillow between the knees helps to maintain the natural alignment of the hips, pelvis and spine. However, if you are a side sleeper, try to alternate sides. This will help to avoid muscle imbalance and perhaps even scoliosis. In addition, side sleeping in a curled-up fetal position may help those with herniated disc pain.
Lying on your stomach is considered the worst sleeping position for back pain. However, if it is difficult to change sleeping positions, place a thin pillow underneath your hips and stomach to improve the alignment of the spine.
When Should You See A Doctor About Lower Back Pain
Back pain is common and often recedes quickly, but its important to talk with a doctor if:
- The pain began with a specific injury
- Pain continues or worsens for more than a few days
- Pain is debilitating
- Pain radiates to the legs or other parts of the body
- You experience weakness or numbness in your lower body
- There are signs of infection like redness, warmth, swelling, or fever
- You have a personal history of cancer
- You have other unexplained health changes like weight loss or urinary problems
A doctor can review your symptoms and determine the appropriate next steps for testing, diagnosis, and treatment.
- Was this article helpful?
Read Also: Cost Of Total Hip Replacement
Cushion Lab Back Relief Lumbar Pillow
This upper mid-back cushion can be used while reclining or sitting. Its ergonomically designed to provide support for the lower back and spine.
Its made from extra dense memory foam thats hypoallergenic. It has an elastic, adjustable strap that keeps it in place while youre driving or seated in a chair.
A removable cover is made from polyester and rayon, and its also machine washable.
Remember: Alignment Is Key
No matter what position you choose, keeping proper alignment of your spine is the most important part of the equation. Focus specifically on aligning your ears, shoulders, and hips.
You may notice gaps between your body and the bed that strain your muscles and spine. You can reduce this stress by using pillows to fill the gaps.
Be careful while turning in bed. You can get out of alignment during twisting and turning motions as well. Always move your entire body together, keeping your core tight and pulled in. You may even find it helpful to bring your knees toward your chest as you roll over.
Recommended Reading: Total Hip Replacement Anterior Approach Protocol
More Than A Minor Inconvenience
Seeking relief, Americans spend over $50 billion each year just on lower back pain. Its the second most common reason people miss work, third most common reason for surgeries, and fifth most common cause of hospitalization, and its responsible for 20% of doctor visits as well. Two 2014 studies suggest back pain is the leading cause of disability worldwide.
Pain can also affect sleep. A 2014 Korean studyVerified SourceNational Library of Medicine Worlds largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible.View sourceof people with chronic lower back pain found that 32% of respondents experienced sleep disturbances due to pain, with those experiencing more pain reporting a higher amount of disturbances. A previous Australian studyVerified SourceNational Library of Medicine Worlds largest medical library, making biomedical data and information more accessible.View sourcelooking at both acute and chronic back pain found that 58% of people reported disturbed sleep due to pain.
The ongoing impact of back pain in America:
- Over $50 billion in treatment costs
- 15-20% have long-term back pain
- 3-4% temporarily disabled due to back pain
- 1% of workforce disabled permanently
- 2nd most common cause of missed work
- 3rd leading reason for surgery
- Among leading reason for hospital and doctor visits
The 2015 Sleep in America poll looked at the connections between sleep, stress and pain. Over 1000 adults were surveyed, and the results found:
Pillow Under Knees Circulation
It improves blood circulation. A pillow between your legs will aid in blood flow through the vena cava, a major vein that carries blood to your heart and back.
Many people believe that sleeping with a pillow under your knees can help relieve neck or back pain. Is the old wives tale true? Pillow wraps under their knees have been a popular method of relief for some people, as have sleeping on their sides or backs. Lying on your stomach is the ideal position because it naturally aligns the spine and hips, eliminating the need for a pillow underneath either knee. If you prefer sleeping under both knees, placing pillows under the knees can help keep your spine in a neutral position. There are pillows designed specifically for placing under your knees as well. Choosing the right home can be difficult given the variety of options on the market.
It is best to use firm pillows, but make sure they are dust mite-free. Microfiber pillows are also best avoided because they are known to cause acne. Back sleepers should use round or cylindrical pillows to support their backs. A pillow with a heart-shaped design is designed to fit between the legs when you sleep on your side. If you dont feel comfortable with a pillow underneath your knees, you might want to consider removing it.
Also Check: How To Treat Hip Arthritis Without Surgery
The Ideal Sleep Position: On Your Back
The best position to avoid back pain is lying flat on your back. Even so, many people find it the hardest way to enjoy deep sleep. For optimal spine alignment, place one pillow underneath your head or neck and another underneath your knees. If youre pregnant, however, you should avoid this position because it decreases blood circulation to the heart and baby.
Best Pillow For Hip Pain Side Sleeper
A pillow for hip pain side sleeper is a pillow that is specifically designed to provide support for the hips and lower back while sleeping on the side. This type of pillow is often filled with a special type of foam that is designed to conform to the body and provide support for the hips and lower back.
Also Check: Pain In Hip And Buttocks
Lifestyle Factors That Prevent Back Pain
Aside from being conscious of how you sleep and where you sleep, there are a few daytime habits that can help reduce back pain as well. Much of the recommended habits for prevention go hand-in-hand with leading a generally healthy lifestyle. TheMayo ClinicVerified SourceMayo ClinicRanked #1 hospital by U.S. News & World Report and one of the most trusted medical institutions in the world. The staff is committed to integrated patient care, education, and research.View sourcesuggests the following for minimizing back pain risk:
Back pain is not a small or insignificant problem, but for many people the side effects and severity can be minimized with fairly simple changes to habits. Awareness of ideal sleep positions and the relationship between mattresses and backs are essential for keeping pain at bay during the night, and paying attention to posture and movements improves comfort throughout the day.
What do you find helps reduce back pain most for you? Do you notice differences between sleep positions?
About the author
Rosie Osmun regularly contributes to the Amerisleep blog writing about topics including, reducing back pain while sleeping, the best dinners for better sleep, and improving productivity to make the most of your mornings. She finds the science of sleep fascinating and loves researching and writing about beds. Rosie is also passionate about traveling, languages, and history.
Nd Position Sleeping On The Side:
- This is another great sleeping position for your low back. The reason is because it keeps your spine at a neutral position.
- For the head: When lying on your side, use a thicker pillow so that your head and neck are positioned in the middle of your shoulders.
- For the lower body: Use a pillow in between your knees in order to maintain proper alignment of the hips, so that they dont sink down.
Also Check: X Ray Of Osteoarthritis Hip
Positions For Side Sleepers
Sleeping on your side places your spine out of alignment. Your top knee will pull down on your back and can cause pain. If youre a side sleeper, youll want to make sure that your hips and waist are properly aligned.
4. Using a pillow between your knees
While your standard bed pillows will work well, a knee pillow is specifically designed to contour and fit comfortably between your top and bottom leg keeping your spine properly aligned by raising your hips and knees.
5. Placing support under the hollow of your waist
Some side sleepers may find that rolling up a small towel or using a small foam pillow placed under their waist adds the necessary support to their spine. The extra support lifts your waist just enough to keep your lower back and spine in line without causing extra stress.
6. In the fetal position