Neck pain is widespread these days. It’s an inflammation or injury to any one of the many structures of the neck, which are supporting muscles, skin, joints, and ligaments. The primary causes are repeated movements of the head, trauma to the neck region, or prolonged stress on the head and neck muscles. Neck pain often radiates down both arms and is accompanied by headaches and stiffness in the shoulders and upper back. In this article, we will discuss some tips that can help you to avoid neck pain.
- Find the best pillow height
Some people like to sleep on their stomachs to reduce pressure on the neck and shoulders, but in most cases sleeping in this position with a pillow placed in the lower part of the body is not a solution. The problem with this position is that the head tends to tilt forward, and neck muscles cannot support it. This forces you to turn the head too much, and as a result, muscles stretch and become sore. For someone who has chronic neck-related problems, such as whiplash injury, this position may aggravate their condition and cause pain.
- Use a pillow that is thick enough to support your neck
A decent pillow should be thick enough to provide good support for your neck and shoulders without adding much weight to your spine. It should be different from the pillow used by your partner. Some pillows may be too firm and consist of ingredients that create heat when in contact with skin. If your pillow is too hard, you can add a small blanket or a soft towel for more comfort and support.
- Use a pillow that provides lumbar support
It is essential to have additional support under your lower back and between the shoulder blades when lying on your back. This will help the upper spine maintain its natural alignment and prevent it from rounding forward or tilting side to side during sleep. You can find such types of pillows at specialty shops designed to help keep the spine in proper alignment when sleeping on the back. These pillows have a long body and a small head. Some pillows have lumbar support built into them. Such pillows are designed for side sleepers, which provides a higher surface of the pillow that can help to prevent neck pain.
- Keep your shoulders from slouching
You have probably heard about “Good posture is important” – well, this is especially true when trying to prevent neck pain during sleeping. Keeping your shoulders back will help keep your neck straight and reduce stress on the muscles of the upper back and neck region. Also, it will keep the spine in proper alignment when sleeping on the back or side.
- Avoid pillows that are too soft or have ridges
People believe that the more ridges on a pillow, the better it will be for neck pain. That’s not always true. The amount of cushioning is different depending on what your body needs. If you sleep with your head tilted back, you need a soft pillow to take pressure off the area where your headrests. The more surface area of a pillow – especially if it has lots of rippling – the less likely it is to flatten out and reduce pressure on all areas of your body.
- Change your pillow if it loses its loft due to use and time
As we age, we tend to hold more tension in our muscles and joints, which can cause neck pain. In this case, the loft of a pillow needs to be reduced. A good pillow should provide enough support for your head and neck without adding too much pressure on them. It should be able to change along with the changes in your body as you advance from a child to a young adult and reach middle age. A quality pillow can last for about five years, depending on how often you sleep on it and if you take proper care of it.
- Remove pillows and other props before sleep and in the morning, and during naps
This is important to remember, mainly if you use a pillow or anything else underneath your head while sleeping. It’s best to get into the habit of removing them every time you get up, even for just a few minutes. This will keep your neck muscles from getting used to that added support. When you use an extra pillow or cushion for any time, it can lead to stiffness in your neck. If your regular pillow is too high, swap it with a lower one until you get used to sleeping without the extra support.
What Is the Best Sleeping Position for Neck and Shoulder Pain?
Lying on your back and keeping your shoulders and neck straight will help to reduce neck pain. However, there is a myth that sleeping on your side is the best way to keep the spine in proper alignment. Many people believe that sleeping on their side will correct bad posture and restore normal spinal alignment, but this is not true. Sleeping on your side only alters the angle at which the headrests on the pillow but does not change any other aspects of what your body needs for good spine health. Your head still rests too far forward during sleep, and it is still leaning too much one way or another.
The way you sleep can change the quality of your waking life. You spend about a third of your life sleeping, and that time is often the only time when you get to relax. The right pillow is essential in reducing neck pain and maintaining proper alignment of your spine. A good pillow will prevent neck pain regardless of what position you like to sleep in.