Sleeping Position and Back Pain
Statements like these are founded on the belief that our backs are fragile and need constant protection so that we do not get pain. The image above is from the article and IS NOT accurate! I recently came across an article in Prevention Magazine which discusses how someone should sleep to avoid back pain. The link to the article is here www.prevention.com/health/sleep-energy/a22091441/best-sleeping-positions-lower-back-pain/. Unfortunately, like a lot of information in common media and magazines, the information in this article is not accurate and not supported by evidence. It incorrectly asserts that there is a "correct" position for us to maintain while we are sleeping in order to not "injure" our back. Statements like these are founded on the belief that our backs are fragile and need constant protection so that we do not get pain. The image above is from the article and IS NOT accurate! [..]
If we look at the evidence for preventing and/or getting over an episode of back pain, one of the key things that consistently shows up in the literature for being beneficial is that we sleep well (i.e. get rested). So really, if you do not have back pain currently, one of the best things you can do is sleep anyway you want and anyway that is comfortable. You will not injure your back while sleeping! It is more important for you to get a good nights rest than it is to be concerned with how you are sleeping. This could mean sleeping on your stomach, back, side, all twisted, etc. It doesn't matter as long as you are comfortable.
That being said, if you are currently experiencing an episode of back pain, there may be positions which are more comfortable than others. Use these, no matter what position they are. For some, it may be that sleeping on your stomach is the most comfortable. If it is for you, sleep this way. For others, it might be on their side. It really does not matter. What does matter is that you are able to sleep and wake rested.
Because you are having pain now and sleeping in certain positions makes it worse, does not mean that that position is injuring your back (or was bad for it before you had pain). This type of thinking and promotion of the idea that the increased pain you are currently experiencing with sleep is the cause of your pain is not correct. It would be like saying that after twisting (spraining) your ankle, because it now hurts to walk, walking is bad for your ankle and should be avoided in the future. Or, in the times we are in now, because more people are using Zoom for meetings and class work because of Covid, that Zoom caused Covid. Again, not an accurate statement. Just like sleeping-because a certain position lying in bed is painful, it does not mean that the position is "bad" for your back.
So, if you do not have back pain, do NOT be concerned about how you sleep or worried that your favorite position will hurt your back. If you are having some back pain, just find the most comfortable position for you and use it-it may be different for everyone.
Our spines are strong and stable and will not get injured or damaged by sleeping a certain way. The most important thing for most of us is to make sure we are getting a good nights rest.
As always, thanks for reading and feel free to let me know if you have any questions.
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