Back pain is one of the most common health problems in our society. In fact, it’s so common that there’s no difference between geography, age, or gender. Statistically, it affects much of the population and has a slightly higher incidence in women over 30.
You may suffer it for a long time and live with it without giving it too much importance. You’ll probably think that one day you’ll wake up and the problem will be gone.
But the reality is that applying good habits could greatly improve your rest.
Do you have back pain at night and won’t let you sleep? Do you wake up every morning with back pain and don’t know why?
In this article, I will explain the most common causes of back pain and how to avoid it.
WHAT IS BACK PAIN WHEN SLEEPING?
As the name suggests, night back pain appears in the lower back (lumbar) when we lie down and relax in bed.
Although this is a common ailment, it doesn’t mean it’s normal. Back pain can have huge consequences in your life, starting with your mood. Not resting properly means higher levels of stress, irritability, and decreased productivity.
In my consultation, I deal with many patients with this pathology. Many claims (and normalize) that they should take painkillers before bedtime.
Is this your case?
If yes, it is necessary to differentiate between who already has the pain at bedtime or if it appears when sleeping and prevents a correct rest.
Those who suffer from night back pain find no relief when they go to bed and even worsen.
For others, the pain doesn’t even begin until they go to bed. Some people spend the day with virtually no pain. But at night, he finds it almost impossible to sleep.
WHY DO OUR BACKS HURT WHEN WE SLEEP?
The cause of night back pain is not always clear. Multiple risk factors increase your chances of developing this problem and are typically caused by a set of factors that occur at once.
To prevent future pains and definitively cure those you suffer today, it’s important to know the most common factors that increase your risk of back pain:
YOUR OVERALL HEALTH
- Being overweight: overloads the joints and modifies body posture causing forced muscle compensation and discomfort.
- Sedentary lifestyle: The human body is not designed to sit for so many hours. It’s like having the car stopped for months in your garage. When you try to start it, it won’t, and it will need maintenance.
- Avoid continued and strenuous physical exertion: usually caused by lifting too heavy lumps or uncomfortable, repetitive movements.
- Structural problems of the skeletal muscle system: diseases such as scoliosis, intervertebral disc protrusions or hernias, narrowing of the lumbar canal…
Poor postures and poor work ergonomics: it’s important to know what poses hurt you to correct them.
And you, what position are you from? Each of us has a preferred sleeping posture, and it’s kind of hard to change. I know. But adjustments can be made to adapt our usual posture to a more favorable one.
Below I will tell you some of the best tricks to rest respecting the natural curvature of our spine.
YOUR RESTING ELEMENTS
Your bed may be to blame for your back pain, literally. In fact, 6 out of 10 people say their back pain improved after switching to a new mattress.
The reason is that an inadequate mattress and pillow will provide incorrect support, making you adopt forced or unnatural postures.
Remember also to check the temperature and darkness of the room.
SOLUTIONS TO REDUCE BACK PAIN
As we have already mentioned, in addition to the pain you suffer at night, you drag tiredness during the day due to lack of rest, and it is at least an uncomfortable situation.
That’s why I’m proposing some actions that you can take now to solve this problem.
TAKE CARE OF YOUR POSTURE DURING THE DAY
Do your best to be aware of your posture during the day.
Follow your company’s work ergonomics standards.
If you work from home or study, keep your back straight and correct your posture constantly. This way, you’ll avoid overloading your lower back too much.
If you have to spend many hours sitting down, respect your breaks and get up from time to time to walk and do some mobility exercises.
Take a few minutes to restructure the elements in your work environment, especially if you spend many hours sitting in the office or standing without also moving if you drive long or make repetitive movements.
CHANGE POSITION WHEN YOU SLEEP
As I’ve told you before, sleeping in certain positions can put extra pressure on your neck, hips, lower back, and more. All of this can cause back pain.
Therefore, it is important to use pillows appropriately:
If you sleep on your back. With a pillow at the cervical level with high firmness and rather thick, we will respect the natural curve in that section of the spine. If we also put another pillow under the knees, it will simply be the ideal posture.
Lying on his side. This is the second-best option! Why? Because of being on the side, irregular pressures occur because of the weight our body exerts on our joints. But if we place a pillow between our knees, we prevent the hip that remains up from spraying forward, and we will get a more neutral posture and that better respects the curvature of our spine.
Lying face down. The losing posture. But don’t worry, I don’t judge you, it’s mine too! If you only manage to sleep in this posture, there are also some adaptations for you. The pillow you put in the cervical area should be low to avoid hyperextension of the area as it could trigger injuries. If you move at night, try removing and putting the pillow on as you change your posture. It’s a little awkward but effective. It works for me. If you sleep on your back all night, it’s best to remove your cervical pillow and put it in your abdomen area. In this way, the curvature of the column regains its resting position. Use your own hands as a cushion!
CHECK ALL YOUR REST ITEMS
Look for a medium firmness mattress or pulling at high (the higher your weight, the stronger you will need), but that is well received and adapts respecting the lines of your body. If you sleep with it, you must support the weight of both without sinking or deforming.
It is recommended to change the mattress every 8-10 years. In addition, I advise you that at the time of purchase, you will be advised by a professional and choose a brand that allows you to have a few weeks of the trial at home without obligation.
If you want to know more about choosing a good mattress, do not miss our item.
There are many on the market, and it can be difficult to choose. You don’t have to be the most expensive; focus on trying that cervical pillow that best suits your body and the way you sleep.
Following in line with the mattress recommendation, it is important that you have firmness but fit. You also have to think about height; to sleep on your back and side, you can choose a higher pillow than sleep face down.
Pillows as an accessory for knees or chest area
You have to choose the one that best suits each one. I have patients who can’t sleep on their side with a big pillow on their knees because it’s flat and won’t let them turn around. It’s okay! You can choose to put on a smaller pillow, a pregnancy pillow, or just a cushion.
It is important to know what you want to achieve with this postural correction, and from there, look for the corrective element that best suits you.
Electric pads and blankets
A good way to relieve back pain and contractures is to use an electric blanket because its heat helps relax muscles as many models as you need to have, either to warm up the bed in general or to work a specific point in your body, such as your lower back or cervicals.
However, you’ll need to work your posture and apply the advice we give you in this article to make you feel better. But keep in mind that a pad or electric blanket can boost your recovery. This article tells you the keys to choosing the best electric pad or blanket for each case.
It is an ancient remedy, simple and free.
In addition to being good for absolutely everything… it will also help you sleep better!
Frequent, low-intensity physical exercise is suitable for everyone. The risk of injury is shallow, and in addition to strengthening your back, it helps to relax the muscles and recover joint mobility.
It is ideally better for people suffering from back pain to choose a sport that has no impact, that is not of very high intensity, or physically very demanding.
Some options would be:
Walk at least an hour throughout the day
Swim twenty minutes 3 times a week
Perform Pilates or Yoga sessions 2 times a week
My favorite exercises to eliminate back pain are the three I tell you below, and they are straightforward to perform. If I have discomfort, I do them daily until in a few days the pain is passed.
If your pain persists or even worsens after a few days of these exercises, please see a physical therapist or specialist doctor. At this point, you need professional help.
Exercise 1. Forward trunk flexion
Start standing upright and drop forward. First, lower your head and direct your hands to your feet, letting you fall slowly and from vertebra to vertebra (top to bottom, from cervical to lumbar).
Accompany the movement with a gentle breath and remove all the tension from the neck, shoulders… drop it. If it gives you a lot of leg tension, you can bend your knees a little.
Exercise 2. Cat/Camel Exercise
We start from a position in quadrupeds. Leaning on the knees, which will be aligned with the hips and palms of the hands, will be aligned to the width of the shoulders.
From there, we begin a movement with the pelvis, directing it parallel to the ceiling and then to the ground. We accompany this wobble with our breathing, breathing gently. Then we let the rest of the spine move rhythmically following the pelvis, carrying the head up when the pelvis is directed towards the ground (camello) and, on the contrary, the head down when the pelvis rises (cat).
Exercise 3. bridge
Choose a firm surface like a rug or mat so you can lie on your back.
Bend your knees and move your heels closer to your buttocks. In a side view, it would look like a triangle between heel, knee, and hip.
Now stabilize the position by making some force with your feet against the ground.
Rest your back well and make sure you don’t feel tension on your shoulders or cervicals.
Slowly, lift the pelvis, taking it off the ground and directing it towards the ceiling, up vertebra to vertebrae. At first, it lifts as far as you’re comfortable. Then you can take your back off the ground until you reach the shoulder blades, which you should leave behind (at least until you master the exercise).
You have to voluntarily activate your abdomen, carrying your belly button in, as well as your buttocks. This exercise also works the leg. Please make sure your knees are aligned and don’t go side-by-side or collapse and come together. Always keep your knees aligned with the width of your hips.
As always, relax, enjoy, feel the work and accompany the movement with a fluid breath.
Back pain is a nuisance that affects millions of people around the world. There are certain differences between those who suffer from it day and night or only at night, but the prevention measures and advice to follow are the same for all cases.
It is recommended to lead an active life, take care of body weight, have control over posture in daily life and sleep activities, and choose some good resting elements—mainly mattress and pillow.
Our body and our health are a lifelong responsibility. If you change your habits and the pain does not improve, please see a doctor or specialized physical therapist.