Sleep, like pain or injury, is unique to each individual. Most people have that ‘go-to’ sleeping position, whether that be on your back, side, stomach, or some type of combination. No matter what your preference is, if you’re finding that you frequently wake up feeling stiff and sore, keep reading for 3 tips and tricks to a better night’s sleep!
Keep it Neutral
Spinal alignment is definitely something to consider if you are experiencing discomfort from your sleeping position. The best way to reduce discomfort is to keep the spine as neutral as possible. This means trying your best to keep your natural alignment all the way from your head/neck, down to you hips/buttocks. Keeping neutral alignment also requires you to be mindful of major areas like your shoulders, hips, and knees. Having your spine straight does not mean you have to sleep on your back, stiff as a board. It just means doing what you can to reduce those awkward arches that go hand-in-hand with each sleeping position.
Fill in the Gaps
Pillows can be a saving grace when it comes to correcting your alignment during sleep. Often times there are ‘gaps’ in our sleeping positions that can cause awkward bends in the spine, resulting in excess pressure on the spine and supporting musculature. This excess pressure can be quickly reduced by filling the gap with a pillow.
Stomach Sleepers: Try sleeping with a small pillow under your stomach and hip area. This will relieve some of the pressure on your lower back by reducing the excess amount of curve that occurs when lying on your stomach.
Back Sleepers: Place a small pillow under your knees. This helps maintain the natural curve of the lower back and pelvis.
Side Sleepers: Body pillows are a great option to help your alignment when sleeping on your side! You can place the body pillow between your knees to reduce the amount of strain on your hips and back from the upper leg. You can also use the upper portion of the pillow to ‘hug’ which should reduce misalignment in the shoulders and prevent twisting in the upper back/neck.
Avoid Sleeping in 'Extreme' Positions
Avoid positions where muscles are either under extreme tension or contraction. For example if you are using a pillow that is too soft, your head will sink in, causing one side of the neck to be under constant contraction, and the other to be under constant tension. This position irritates the muscles in the neck and the cervical spine. When we wake up and quickly straighten our necks without warming up those muscles or considering the position we were sleeping in, we rapidly stretch the muscles that have been in a contracted position all night, and shorten those that have been under tension resulting in feeling stiff and sore or possibly injuring yourself. Try to be extra aware of your sleeping positions if they could be an ‘extreme’ position, and be a little cautious when jumping out of bed in the morning!
Remember, sleep is different for every single person! Try not to get too hung up on feeling like you have to sleep a certain way if you are struggling with lower back pain. Most people’s sleeping positions change throughout the night while they are tossing and turning, but these simple corrective tips could help here and there. If you are interested in further sleeping tips, refer to our earlier blog post about choosing the right pillow here.
*This blog is not intended to officially establish a physician-patient relationship, to replace the services of a trained physician, naturopathic doctor, physical therapist or chiropractor or otherwise to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
Active Release Techniques for Neck Pain
[vc_row][vc_column width="1/1"][vc_column_text]By: Active Sports Therapy
If you experience neck pain you are certainly not alone. Neck pain is an extremely common reason for visiting a doctor or chiropractor. Anyone who deals with neck pain knows that it can interfere with your daily life, from driving, to playing sports, to your concentration at work, or even just having a good nights’ sleep. A frustrating aspect of neck pain is that it is often recurrent and people will experience the same problem over and over again unless resolved.
The great news is, a new treatment technique known as Active Release Technique (ART) is proving to be a excellent results as it can treat many common neck problems, helping the individual to get back to doing the things they love to do.
When looking at the neck, we are taking a look at the upper portion of the spinal column called the cervical spine. A very complex system of muscles surround this area to help control movement and protect the area from injury. With several muscles doing many jobs, it’s no wonder why most people experience neck pain in their lifetime.
In the age of devices and more and more people doing jobs that require them to sit at a desk all day, often with improper posture, the neck muscles can become strained and painful. On top of all of this, your neck has the job of moving and coordinating your 10 pound head!
Types of Neck Injuries and What Can Be Causing the Pain
Tightness, weakness, and abnormal function of the neck muscles can stem from many different causes. This can come from strained posture when sitting at your desk, repetitive strain from playing sport, impact from sports such as hockey or football, muscle imbalances, weakness or tightness, car accidents (current or from days gone by), or sleeping with an improper pillow.
Over time these pressures can develop into what is known as micro-trauma. “A micro-trauma is very small scale damage that occurs in the muscles, tendons, joint capsules, and ligaments is response to small levels of strain. Initially micro-trauma is not painful, but may be perceived as a mild ache or tightness in the muscles. Although only small, this damage still needs to be repaired. The body responds to micro-trauma in a predictable way – by laying down small amounts of scar tissue to repair the area. Unfortunately, over time scar tissue will build-up and accumulate into what we call adhesions.” (ActiveRelease.com)
As more of these adhesions form, they can affect the function and movement of the muscles and joints around the injured area. This can cause pain, tightness and can even affect blood flow to the area.
ART stands for Active Release Techniques. All chiropractors at Active Sports Therapy are certified in this unique technique. It is a highly successful hands-on treatment method to address problems in the soft tissues of the body. ART is powerful when applied to neck injuries because it seeks out and treats these scar tissue adhesions that we outlined above.
Once we breakup restrictive adhesions, we can reinstate normal tissue flexibility and movement. What that means for the patient is that they will then have flexibility, balance, and stability throughout the injured area.
What to Expect at a Treatment
You can think of an ART treatment as a type of active massage. Active Release Techniques or ART has proven to be very effective in treating neck injuries. During an ART treatment, tension is applied to affected muscles, ligaments, and tendons. As the tension is applied, the practitioner or an assistant will then move the affected area and thus releasing tension and breaking up adhesions. This unique combination of direct pressure and specific guided movement patterns are the key to ART’s success in treating pain and injuries.
If you experience neck pain and have tried other routes, consult one of our chiropractors today. Each chiropractor at Active Sports Therapy is fully trained in Active Release Techniques. You may find that your nagging neck can be restored to it’s normal function in just a handful of treatments.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]