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Sleep and Posture Tips for Reducing Chronic Pain

Sep 02, 2020
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If you struggle with chronic pain, especially in your back or neck, your posture can influence the issue in both directions: Bad posture can exacerbate the issue, while good posture may help alleviate some of your discomfort.

You’ve likely heard throughout your life that your posture is important — whether it was your mother at the dinner table or a friend counseling you to sit up straight for an interview. As musculoskeletal experts, we’re going to add pain management to the long list of reasons why posture is important.

At Commonwealth Pain and Spine, our team of highly skilled pain management physicians approaches pain from many different angles in order to bring you relief. While we do our part through our cutting-edge interventional therapies, you can do yours by paying close attention to how you carry your body, even when you sleep.

Sitting and standing for improved spine health

As the foundational support for your body, your spine already works incredibly hard to provide you with support, mobility, and range of motion. And it performs these roles best when all of the components are properly aligned so that no single area is overly taxed.

Since many of us spend hours sitting at a desk, this is one of the first areas where you can help your spine function optimally and combat chronic pain. Humans weren’t designed to sit hunched over at a desk for hours on end, but since we have little choice, it pays to do so in a way that supports your spine, which includes:

  • Placing both feet on the floor (don’t cross your knees or ankles)
  • Keeping your knees even with your hips or lower (never higher)
  • Keeping your shoulders back
  • Holding your head up high so that your chin is parallel with the floor

These same posture tips apply when you’re standing (except for the positioning of your knees). In addition to the recommendations above, be sure to stand where the ground is even so that you don’t throw your hips out of balance.

Sleeping for comfort

When you sleep, your body uses this time to scan and restore itself, so it’s important that you allow this to happen, especially if you’re dealing with chronic pain.

You can help your body do its work by ensuring that your spine is in a neutral, restful position, which means avoiding sleep positions that overly arch your back or neck. The best position for your spine is to sleep on your back with a pillow that doesn’t force your head up too high.

Sleeping on your side is also fine, but you might want to place a pillow between your knees to better align your hips and spine.

The position we recommend against is sleeping on your stomach, which isn’t doing your neck or back any favors.

By minding your posture during both your waking and sleeping hours, you can better balance your body and allow critical healing resources to flow more freely.

If you have more questions about posture or managing your chronic pain, contact one of our 12 locations in St. Matthews, Elizabethtown, Lexington, Crestview Hills, Owensboro, and London, Kentucky; Evansville, Vincennes, New Albany, Carrollton, and Jasper, Indiana; and Mt. Carmel, Illinois, to set up an appointment.