I often have clients arrive with headaches, neck or shoulder pain, and maybe even tingling down their arms.
With my sports therapy hat on, my immediate thought is to address the possible cause of the pain of the condition immediately… even before treating the symptoms. One simple question usually solves weeks and months (sometimes years) of discomfort. “What… ?”
“What height is your pillow?”
Invariably they say, and frequently with great pride, “Oh, quite flat.”
We were told many years ago that a flat pillow was better for sleeping… I’m not quite sure where this erroneous thinking came from but it’s definitely a bad idea when most people sleep on their side.
Many common, long term, shoulder and neck pains, headaches and arm tingling can be relieved almost immediately by… Increasing the height of the pillow.
Just imagine how you’d feel if you’d been walking around all day with your head on one side (the position you sleep when on your side using a low pillow) – very painful and extremely stressed.
- nerves would become pinched
- muscles would become unbalanced in the neck (either over-stretched on one side and adaptively shortened on the other)
When lying in bed the other issue becomes the over-compression of the head of the arm into the shoulder joint.
AND… always remember that, if you sleep on your stomach, (aaargh!) it’s the equivalent of walking around for up to 8 hours trying to look over one shoulder… NOT a great idea!!!
Try experimenting with different heights by placing towels under your pillow as you lie on you side until you can work out what is the best level for you.
The height you’re aiming for is so your neck is parallel with the bed and will be dependent on the width of your shoulders.
So now… lie on your side, snuggle your ‘perfectly height-determined’ pillow underneath your neck and head and sleep like a baby!