Sleeping Positions for Neck Pain

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For those who are suffering from neck pain or have suffered from it in the past, you know that finding a comfortable position while sleeping can become a difficult task.  Many times just knowing what positions are most supportive for your neck can help reduce pain, spasms and tightness.  In this post we will break down which pillows and positions are best when suffering from neck pain or trying to prevent it in the future.

  1.  Sleeping on Your Back-  When sleeping on your back the best type of pillow to use is a flat pillow that keeps your spine in a more neutral position.  Many times it is also beneficial to add a towel roll into the pillow case at the base of the pillow to give the neck a bit more support.  The towel roll should be just thick enough to give the neck some light support, but not push the back of the head off the pillow.  Many times you can find pillows that come with a built in neck support and these can be very useful if you are a back sleeper.
  2. Sleeping on Your Side-  When sleeping on your side, using a thicker more supportive pillow is best.  The thickness of the pillow should be equivalent to the height of your head off the mattress.  This would again help to maintain a more neutral spine position.  Avoid too thick of a pillow or too thin of a pillow that may put your neck in a more side-bent position.  It also may be helpful to put a pillow under your arm and in between your knees to keep your lower spine in better alignment as well.  Full body pillows can be a good pillow to try if you are a consistent side sleeper.
  3. Sleeping on Your Stomach-  If possible it is best to avoid sleeping on your stomach if you are suffering from any neck pain.  This position puts a rotary compression on the side joints in your spine and can lead to further neck tightness/stiffness.  Changing sleeping positions can be a hard thing to do, but with practice and persistence it can be done.  If you do end up rolling to your stomach, then using a thin pillow or no pillow at all is recommended, as this will keep your neck in a less extended and rotated position.
  4. Sleeping in a Recliner or Upright Position-  Many people find that their most comfortable position is when sleeping upright.  Many pregnant women or people suffering from lower back pain can relate to this.  When sleeping in this position it is best to use a horseshoe type pillow, like commonly seen in an airplane.  The key is to find a small enough pillow to offer your neck side support, but not push the head too far forward.

Hopefully this gives you a good idea of what types of pillows and positions you should work into your nighttime routine.  If you have any further questions or concerns please come in and see us!

What Texting Does to Your Neck!

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Due to the recent smart phone invasion, our clinic has noticed a significant increase in lower neck pain.  We call it the Smartphone Syndrome.  For some reason it’s in our human nature to bring our head toward our phone rather then bring the phone toward our head.  You can see in the picture above just how bad that can be for our neck and posture.  For short periods of time this increase in weight is negligible.  But when we are sending whole conversation over the phone, updating our fantasy teams, and checking the hour by hour weather report for the next 3 days, it start to become a problem.

Take a look at the picture above.  What skeleton human would you be?  I think most of us would have to say either the 4th or 5th guy on the right.  In order to avoid unwanted distraction during an intense game of words with friends, we tend to inch our head closer and closer to the cell phone screen.  Imagine carrying 50 to 60 pounds in your arms for 15 to 30 minutes.  How do you think your arms would feel?  Could you even do it?  Well now imagine that is what your neck skeleton is having to do when you are on your phone 15 to 30 minutes!

Hopefully we are all starting to get the picture now, and your probably wondering….well what can I do about it!?  Well, there are two ways to help improve our posture during smartphone use.  First, and easiest, lower your eyes to the phone without lowering your head.  Meaning, be the first guy on the left in the picture above.

Second, is to bring the phone to your head.  It may be a little more difficult on your arms, but those appendages are build for carrying a 1/4 lb weight.  Your neck is not made to carry a 50lb pound weight.  If you are sitting, then rest a pillow under your arms and bring the phone up to eye level.

If you find yourself forgetting to do either of these things, then the least you can do for yourself if some simple neck stretches.  Try do take breaks every 3-5 minutes to look up, take some breaths, and try a couple of these quick stretches…

shoulder retractions       neckretraction     mountain pose

 

Hold each of these for 3 to 5 seconds and do each one 2 or 3 times.