According to one study, lower back pain is the main cause of serious disability worldwide, with nearly 10% of people affected by some chronic affliction. In the United States, conventional treatment options are considered to be one of the biggest contributors to the opioid epidemic.
But it’s not some sort of disease, injury or medical condition that causes most chronic pain problems. More often than not, it’s the result of poor habits related to posture, most notably awkward sleeping positions. Prevention is better than cure here, so let’s take a look at five sleeping positions that can help you relieve chronic pain.
Before we get into the list, it’s a good idea to take a look at your bed and identify whether there’s any room for improvement. Perhaps you haven’t bought a new pillow in a few years or could do with a more supportive mattress, such as a comfortable queen mattress with memory foam technology.
This is no less important than knowing the right sleeping position, as the surface that you sleep on must be conducive to your posture. As we will find out below, using an extra pillow to fill the gaps between the bed and your body is another useful way to reduce strain.
Back With Pillow Under Your Knees
Most experts agree that back sleepers enjoy the most spinal support. This can be owed to the fact that your weight is naturally distributed along the length of your body. To further support the curvature of your back, you can place a pillow under your knees. It’s recommended to avoid allowing your head to fall to the side in this position.
Side With Pillow Between Your Knees
If you’re not a back sleeper, lying on your side is the next best option. Try to make as much contact with your body and the mattress as you can, especially near your shoulder. Placing a pillow between your knees is necessary to provide support. In addition, a smaller pillow can be used to fill the gap between your waist and the mattress.
Switching from your left to right side on a regular basis throughout the week is important for avoiding muscle imbalance issues. Having a pillow between your knees is key here, as it’s what causes the correct alignment of your hips, spine, and pelvis, thus relieving pain.
This is an especially effective position for those who have a herniated disc. Fetal position is exactly what it sounds like and involves sleeping on your preferred side in a curled position. Start by lying straight on your side before slightly bringing your chest and knees towards each other. Just as with the above position, don’t forget to switch sides.
Stomach With Pillow Under Your Abdomen
Sleeping on your stomach can increase pressure on your neck and is generally regarded as the last sleeping position to resort to. However, some people find it to be the most comfortable. You can make it work to relieve chronic pain by sliding a slimmer pillow below your abdomen, to provide it with the necessary amount of support.
Stomach With Head Face Down
Finally, you might prefer sleeping with your face towards the pillow. This can be better than having your head turned towards the side, which otherwise puts a strain on your neck. This position is best approached with a small pillow below your forehead to provide breathing room. Try to keep a pillow under your abdomen as well.
Don’t forget to make a conscious effort to maintain your posture in your waking life as well, which is just as effective for relieving chronic pain. This includes regular stretching and exercise, which we all know to have a myriad of other benefits as well.