Back pain can keep you up at night, it prevents you from enjoying a good night sleep and saps your day’s energy. But you’re in luck, not only are there solutions, but we’ve spoken to Hashim Saifuddin, Director and Osteopath at Atlas Osteopathy, to get the best and most thorough information to help you on your way to understanding back pain in bed.
What Causes Back Pain?
The main cause of back pain in bed is poor posture, either from how a person sits at work or how they sleep at night.
Between the vertebrae in the spine are intervertebral discs, which rehydrate at night (which is why we are taller in the morning, and part of the reason that the elderly lose height as they get older). Poor posture can prevent the discs rehydrating.
Read more: The NHS Guide To Back Pain
Attached to the vertebra are smaller muscle groups such as the erector spinae, and large muscles such as the trapezius. Poor posture can put the muscles into awkward positions that can cause irritation over a prolonged period of time, resulting in aches or pains. While there are several causes of back pain, a small number of which can be more serious underlying health issues. NHS Live Well gives us a list of common indicators of poor posture:
- Slouching in a chair
- Sticking your bottom out when standing (this could be a sign of hyperlordosis, an accented curve in the lower spine)
- Standing with a flat back
- Leaning on one leg
- Hunched back and ‘text neck’ when focusing too much on your phone
- Poking your chin out when at a computer
- Rounded shoulders (a sign your back needs strengthening)
- Cradling your phone in between your head and shoulder
These points are developed with images and solutions on this helpful NHS web page.
Prevention of Back Pain in Bed
In order to prevent back pain in bed, taking care of your posture is essential. A great start is to sleep on your right hand side, with knees bent up slightly. Laying on the right hand side is good for blood flow, as you have the smaller and lighter left lung resting on the heart in this position, maximising blood flow.
Ensure that the gap in between the shoulder, neck and head is filled with pillow, so that the spine and neck remain in good alignment. Imagine how your neck sits vertically in line with the rest of the spine when you are sitting and standing; when you are laying on your side, you want to maintain that. Pillow depth is key here, and firmness or softness is personal preference.
Related: Sleeping Positions Guide
How To Exercise to Relieve Back Pain
In the morning and evening it is beneficial to warm up and warm down. To achieve this:
- Some gentle stretching will help in general, but particularly for pain in lower back.
- For the neck and lower back, gentle stretching in all vectors of movement (bending forwards, backwards, to the sides, and in rotation) will help, ensuring you engage the core muscles at all times to strengthen them and stretch the other muscles.
- Tight hamstrings can place stress on your lower back. To stretch your hamstrings, place one leg up on the bed and gently stretch forward until you feel the tension down the back of the leg. This will help, particularly if you have been sat down all day as the hamstrings will have been contracted and shortened for that whole period, they deserve a stretch!
Any exercise that strengthens your core will help prevent back pain in the future, so consider hitting the gym or park more often, or taking up a yoga class or similar.
Your mattress and back pain
When it comes to picking the right mattress, it is important to get the correct support for your spine. A mattress that is too hard can put too much pressure on the areas where you feel discomfort, whereas a mattress that is too soft will not provide support for the areas that need it, allowing the spine to spend long periods in poor and unhealthy positions.
People who suffer from lower back pain generally benefit more from a mattress erring on the firmer side of neutral. This is because of the shape of the spine, meaning that the lower back is often in need of more support. Most people can’t go wrong with a memory foam-type mattress, as this will provide support where support is needed, and allow for adjustment to the body where that is also required.
It is always a good idea to test any potential mattress first to check it supports you in the right way, the best way is pop into one of our stores and try a bed.
What are the best beds for bad backs?
If you’re prone to back pain, memory foam or alternative fillings such as latex can help cushion your back while maintain your spine’s natural alignment. The following mattresses are all popular options for those with back pain:
- Sealy Posturetech Superior Mattress
- Sealy Posturetech Supreme Mattress
- TheraPur ActiGel Plus Harmonic 2200 Mattress
- TEMPUR CoolTouch Cloud Elite Mattress
- Sleepeezee Regency Dynasty Mattress
Your bed and back pain
Regarding the bed itself, if you are looking to start over completely, it may be important to remember that height of the bed can play an important part in preventing back pain. With beds that are too low and close to the ground, it is often that much more difficult getting out of bed in the morning, much like getting out of a low car!
Have you suffered from back pain in bed? Please use the comments section below to tell us how you overcame the pain.