Random aches and pains— we all experience them from time to time, but did you ever stop to think that they could be caused by your sleeping position? You see, snoozing on your side may feel natural, but doing so can end up putting a whole lot of stress on your shoulder. Ouch!
Luckily, there’s one good way to make sure that you can get a good night’s rest on your preferred side—and still wake up pain-free. Yep, with just one small change, you too can get the sleep you deserve without having to shift to your back or your belly.
Experts say that the best way to do this is to find ways to add support to your neck, shoulders, and back before you turn off those lights.
Dr. Jess Greaux with Innersport Chiropractic writes that the best position is flat on the back, but she does say that there are ways for side sleepers to reduce stress by keeping the shoulders in an open position throughout the night. She writes:
One tip you can use to keep your shoulders open is to wedge a leg-pillow in between your arms, and hug it tightly. The pillow should be placed vertically, with its base touching your mattress, and your top arm draped over it. Unlike a traditional soft pillow, the hard foam of the leg-pillow will retain its shape, and will prevent your shoulders from collapsing into it.
If you feel like you aren’t getting enough support from the leg-pillow, Dr. Greaux suggests placing a swim buoy or a yoga block between your legs for optimal spine, lower back, and hip alignment. Though you may not be experiencing pain in these areas, practicing good posture—even when you sleep—can end up taking even more pressure off of the shoulders.
Other ways side sleepers can stamp out shoulder pain
In her article, Dr. Greaux is quick to point out that, if you are experiencing prolonged or intense pain in either one or both shoulders, it’s important that you visit a doctor, preferably an orthopedist. The doc will do a series of tests to ensure that your shoulders are not suffering from derangement or a hidden injury before starting you on a treatment plan.
For side sleepers experiencing tight shoulders, Dr. Greaux recommends talking to an orthopedist about special physical therapy exercises, like active release techniques to break up scar tissue around the shoulders, yoga, and Pilates.
Of course, there are some wonderful low-impact exercises and remedies that you can try for pain-relief while you are waiting for that doctor’s referral to be approved! Our personal favorite requires an ordinary racquetball and roughly 30 seconds of your time.