How To Align Your Spine In Bed For Back Pain Relief
To align your spine in bed, first consider what your preferred sleeping position is. If you tend to sleep on your side, a pillow between the knees and a slightly thicker head pillow can help keep things straight. For back sleepers, a thinner head pillow is better with another pillow under the knees.
The spine has four natural curves that are maintained by good posture and a healthy body.
A focus on good posture and muscle strengthening can help improve spine alignment.
Proper sleep posture aided by pillows can also help by keeping your spine in a healthy position at night.
Did you know?
The average adult in America sits 6.5 hours a day, and one-quarter sit for 8 hours. If done without a break or posture checks, this can damage the spine.
Does back pain keep you up at night? Is getting out of bed your biggest challenge in the morning?
This could be because poor sleep posture is throwing the natural curve of your spine out of position. But don’t fling in the towel on your hopes of better back health just yet. There are ways to fight back.
While some medical conditions make this issue more difficult for some than others, the question of how to align your spine in bed can often be answered by changing your sleep posture with tools like body pillows and mattress adjustments.
The Four Natural Curves Of Your Spine
In order to have a chat about proper spine alignment, it’s important to have an idea of what “proper” means in this case. Thankfully it’s pretty simple.
When looking from the left side, your spine has four natural curves that look something like one ‘S’ stacked on top of another:
- Cervical curve - the portion of your spine in your neck that arcs toward the front of your body.
- Thoracic curve - naturally moves in the opposite direction, forming the bottom part of the top ‘S’ between the shoulders and mid-back.
- Lumbar curve - the part of your lower back that arcs toward the belly button.
- Sacral curve - the very bottom of the lower ‘S’ that bends the spine back in a downward direction.
These four curves make up the natural position of your spine from the side. Issues arise when there’s too much or too little of a curve.
When viewed from the back profile, your spine should form a straight line from your skull to your bottom.
How Do You Know If Your Spine Is Out Of Line?
So, you know what your spine is supposed to look like. But how do you know if there’s a problem?
Oftentimes you’ll know that your spine is out of line simply because you’re suddenly battling chronic pain in the back or neck area. This could involve soreness in the surrounding muscles or it could be more direct pain on the nerves in the vertebrae.
Such pain often goes hand in hand with one or more of the following:
- Poor posture or slouching (think desk work)
- Repetitive movements
- Accidents or falls
- Injuries during exercise
As with any medical issue, it’s best not to pursue treatment options until you’ve received confirmation and advice from a professional. This may involve x-rays and possibly MRI exams depending on the severity
Fixing A Misaligned Spine
Chronic back pain could have a wide variety of causes from herniated discs to curvature issues like scoliosis. If you’ve ruled out the more serious potential causes, there are a few ways that you can straighten your spine naturally.
Just be aware that it’ll take more than a quick fix to wave bye-bye to your alignment problems. How long depends on the severity.
Strengthening Your Back
The first favor you can do for your spine is to get off the couch and focus on being a little more active. Specifically, you may want to try things that are good for your core. Yoga is one great option that will strengthen your front and back. You could also give core-specific exercises like the plank a shot. Whatever you do, try to make it a habit.
Focusing On Posture
While strengthening your body is important, all of that hard work can be undone by poor posture throughout the day. And if you have a desk job, you may be facing an uphill battle. But don’t worry, there’s hope
Step one to a better back is to sit up relatively straight in your chair, but not so straight that it’s uncomfortable. You could even get an exercise ball to sit on or a standing desk.
Step two is to stand up and stretch every 30 minutes. Going for a short walk is even better, if possible.
There are also many posture-related exercises that you can try to keep your spine in check.
Decompressing The Spine
One other home-remedy is to grab the old monkey bars and chill. That’s right, it turns out that hanging helps to align the spine over time.
While proper traction or decompression tables are more optimal and have the studies to back up their therapeutic effects on the back, hanging has a similar effect. Just grab a chin-up bar or even hold yourself up by a pair of countertops, and hold yourself there for a minute. Over time, gravity will relieve the pressure on your vertebrae.
How To Decompress Your Spine While Sleeping
Now, wouldn’t it be great if you could reap those spine-correcting benefits while you sleep? Well, you can to some degree.
While proper sleep posture is unlikely to solve all of your problems on its own, adding it to the healthy lifestyle outlined above should help.
The hitch to that plan is that maintaining a posture throughout the night is tough for most of us. That’s because there are two highly mobile areas that can throw the spine into unpleasant positions.
Maintaining Good Head Posture
The first key to decompressing your spine while sleeping is in the neck. It’s a common area for sleep issues, maybe because many of us see big, fluffy pillows as being better. But the truth is that pillow positions are more complicated than that. Here’s a brief rundown:
- If you sleep on your back, try a shallower pillow as it keeps the natural curve of the cervical spine in place.
- If you sleep on your side, the important thing is that your head is in line with the rest of your body and isn’t drooping down or being propped up too high.
- Stomach sleeping can hurt your back and should be avoided if you already have pain there. But if you can’t avoid it, give a very shallow head pillow a shot. Possibly even none at all.
Maintaining Good Leg Posture
The second key to decompressing your spine is in the legs. That’s where body pillows like our Cuddler can help. Here are a few of the ways that you can customize your sleep with one:
- If you sleep on your back, placing a Cuddler underneath the legs may help relieve that pain by keeping your lumbar spine in a more natural position.
- If you sleep on your side, try sliding it between your legs and arms for added benefit. This can help keep one leg from twisting over the other.
- If you just can’t stop stomach sleeping, try placing the Cuddler under your tummy to keep your lumbar spine from curving too much.
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The Sleeping Positions That Help Your Spine
While there are things that you can do to improve each position, there’s no doubt that some positions are easier on your back than others.
If there were a gold medal that went out to the best sleeping position for your spine, it would go to back sleeping. Silver would go to side sleeping. And if back sleeping had to get any medal at all, it would get bronze, though experts generally agree that it can be terrible for your back.
With that said, fighting to stay on your back when your body wants to stay in another position won’t do you any favors. It’ll only make you lose sleep.
So, if sleeping on your side or even your stomach is what works for you and you’re not experiencing too much pain, go with that.
To align your spine in bed, try to maintain the natural curves already present. Specifically the lumbar curve in your lower back and the cervical curve in the neck. The Bearaby body pillow is one tool that may help the lower back, while adjusting your pillow based on your preferred sleeping position can aid your neck.
It might be a long road to fixing a misaligned back, but doing the right things at night while maintaining good posture and exercise during the day can set you on the path to recovery.