7 Sleep Positions For Pain Prevention & Relief

Pictured below are multiple options depending on whether you sleep on your back, side or even stomach. Use singly or in combination as needed.

Strategic Pillow Talk 
During initial massage therapy intake, I usually enquire about preferred sleep position. We spend approximately 1/3 of our life asleep, sleep position can impact how we feel the following day and over time - for better or worse.

Pillow placement can prevent or alleviate certain types of musculoskeletal and nerve pain. Don’t have an extra pillow? Try a rolled up towel or consider a body pillow. A body pillow is approximately four feet long. Skip the one that is 6 feet or so and u-shaped unless you sleep alone. See the sidebar for body pillow and matching body pillow cover.

Back Sleeper
1. neck pain Drape pillow in a “shawl” fashion to prevent your head from rolling too far to either side thus easing the strain on the neck.

2. low back injury
Place a pillow under  your knees. This position serves double duty by reducing stress on the low back as well as the knees.

Side Sleeper
3. neck / shoulder pain
The pillow is between the head and the shoulder (not under shoulder) keeping the upper back in one line parallel to the floor. This position may lift the head enough to keep it from cutting off circulation and nerve sensation to the arm that is on the bed. 
Yay - no more pins and needles!

4. Low back / top hip / knee /ankle pain
Use a small pillow under the low back. For the lower leg arrange the pillow lengthwise to  cushion from thigh to ankle.

5. Sidelying Full Body Alignment:
This is my personal favorite and it's not just for pregnancy massage. If you haven't tried this position, ask about it the next time you schedule a massage appointment.

Pillow between head and shoulder and body pillow hugged to chest at one end and between knees at the other. This is how I would set you up for sidelying massage.

Stomach Sleeper (sigh - if  you must go there!)
This is the most problematic sleep position for your cervical (neck) spine and can make lumbar (low back) pain worse.
6. neck pain / spine
The first pillow is under the head and collar bones to keep the head from excessive rotation. The second pillow is under the stomach and hips to take pressure off the low back.

7. calf / foot cramp prevention
Place a pillow under your ankles so that your toes don't touch the bed. This position is great if you have plantar fasciitis or are prone to calf cramps at night.

TIP: Don't have an extra pillow? Scoot down so that your feet hang off the edge of the bed leaving your tootsies pressure free!



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