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There’s never a moment during your waking hours that your back isn’t performing some critical role — from supporting your body to providing range of motion. So the last thing you want to do is create problems for this important structure while you sleep — which is the one time your back should be allowed to rest. Unfortunately, many people are doing just that because of poor sleeping positions.
At Mass Ave Chiropractic, Dr. Joe Kielur and our team understand the foundational role that your spine plays in your overall musculoskeletal health and why it’s important to take extra care when it comes to your back. To that end, we’ve pulled together a few points on sleeping positions and how they can either cause or relieve back pain.
With 80% of adults in the United States experiencing lower back pain at some point in their lives, the prevalence of back pain is quite large. And of these numbers, 20% go on to struggle with chronic low back pain.
To drive the point home just a little bit further, back pain is the leading cause of work-related disability and one of the primary drivers of missed work days.
The point we’re trying to make with these numbers is that back pain is a clear and present danger, even for the most healthy among us. And because your back lies at the heart of your entire body, providing support, range of motion, mobility, and balance, any steps you can take to head off back pain are steps worth taking, especially while you sleep.
In 1994, the American Academy of Pediatrics created the “Back to Sleep” campaign to prevent sudden infant death syndrome. We think this campaign can serve everyone, from toddlers to the elderly.
In order to provide your back with the restorative rest it needs, your back should be in a completely neutral position while you sleep, which means no one area is stretched or positioned in a way that taxes your vertebrae.
The best position for achieving a neutral spine is sleeping on your back on a mattress that’s not too soft or firm. Sleeping on your back spreads out the weight evenly, eliminating pressure points. This position is also best for your respiratory system, which can flow freely when you’re on your back. As well, all of your internal organs can nestle into place when you’re on your back.
Conversely, sleeping on your stomach stretches your neck and arches your back, creating undue stresses on your spine.
When it comes to sleeping on your side, there are good and bad aspects, which we’ll get to in a minute.
Your choice of pillow can also help, or hinder, your spine. If you choose a pillow that’s too firm and lifts your head at an angle, this isn’t doing any favors for your cervical spine. Instead, make sure that your head and body are aligned and use a pillow to tuck under your neck rather than your head.
A pillow can also be terribly useful if you sleep on your side. Sleeping on your side isn’t necessarily bad for your back, as long as your spine is in a straight line. You can relieve the pressure in your hips by inserting a pillow between your knees to keep your body properly aligned.
If you tend to sleep on one side more than another, we recommend that you try and switch it up. Favoring one side each night can lead to musculoskeletal imbalances.
If you really want to get a good night’s sleep and wake up with a back that’s ready to take on the day, use the sleeping tips above and add regular chiropractic adjustments to your health regimen. Through our chiropractic services, we can ensure that your back is aligned, and we can also eliminate any blockages along your spine to facilitate the flow of resources throughout your body.
To learn more about caring for your back while you sleep, please give our Indianapolis, Indiana, office a call at (317)427-5345 or use the easy online scheduling tool to set up an appointment.
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