Is anything worse than back pain? Whether it’s a chronic condition or a just a short term strain, back pain is one of those things that can seep into every single aspect of your day. It can be damned difficult to find any relief that doesn’t come out of a bottle from the pharmacy.
Yep, back pain is the absolute worst. Since my first back strain a few years ago, I’ve even adopted a new life philosophy, now anytime I meet someone who seems down in the dumps or a little abrasive in nature, I think to myself, ‘that person isn’t bad tempered, they just have back pain.’
In fact when you have back ache, even the sanctuary of sleep often gets flip turned upside down and becomes something to dread. Climbing in and out of bed becomes, well, for want of a better word, a pain. Just working out the right position to lie in becomes a waking nightmare.
The saddest part is that quality sleep is most likely the one thing that will reduce or hasten the end of any suffering you are in. Ah, the cruel irony of it all!
Well, don’t despair and don’t got reaching for a that bottle of horse tranquilizers just yet, first have a quick read of my top three tips to help you sleep with lumbar pain.
Adopt the right position
Ok, front sleepers I’ve got a bit of new for you – you’ve got sleeping wrong! Yep, all that mashing your face into your pillow is not how it’s supposed to be done. Not only is it doing your beautiful skin a disservice, it’s also putting unnecessary strain on your neck and your lower back.
Actually, if you suffer from chronic lower back pain one of the chief causes could in fact be the fact you sleep on your front. Fix it! Try sleeping on your back or on your side. It’s going to be difficult at first, you have after all spent a third of your life by this point sleeping incorrectly. It’s habit however you will have to train yourself out of if you wish to find some relief. If you find yourself struggling, have a quick look at this handy step-by-step.
Now, if you’re in the midst of a severe back pain episode I would suggest utilising a few pillows or cushions to provide added support. If you sleep on your back – and you should – pop the support of your choice under your knees. This slight elevation works to push the back flatter against the mattress and seems to provide relief for many. If you sleep on your side, try popping the pillow between your legs instead.
Stretch (gently) before bed
Now, this tip should be treated carefully, not all back pain is created equal and you’re going to know far better than me exactly what you should and shouldn’t be attempting at this stage of your injury. If you suffer from chronic lower back pain however, stretching gently before bed has been found, by me, and by many others to provide relief.
I like to do a very low intensity hatha yoga class before bed. Just 20-30 minutes of slow poses designed specifically to help open up the back. Nothing too adventurous, I’m not trying to fold myself into a pretzel of anything like that. My very favourite pose, is an incredibly easy one, and one that seems to provide a lot of relief for my back is called the cat and cow, or to give them their fancy sanskrit names, marjaiasana and bitilasana.
All you need to do to cat/cow is get on your hands and knees, while inhaling, lift your chest and tailbone towards the ceiling, and while exhaling, arch your back, pressing through the shoulder blades and dropping your head. Simple but very effective at gently free up things up a little in the lower back.
Get a better mattress
Humans are strange creatures. The things we prioritize make very little sense in relation to what is really important. We spend a full third of our life asleep, or at least trying to sleep. That’s a third of our life in bed. Yet, how much time do any of us spend thinking about our mattress? I’ll bet a lot less time that we spend thinking about what car or phone to buy, or even where to go on holiday.
Sleeping on a mattress that is too soft, too small, sagging or lumpy will not be doing your back pain any favours at all. Actually just like sleeping in the wrong position, sleeping on the wrong mattress could actually be causing your back pain.
So what is the correct mattress? Well, again what works for your body might not work for mine. The only way to find the correct mattress for you is to experiment. Test out beds at the houses of friends and families, at hotels. Go online and order a new one, more often than not the big companies offer 90-120 day no-questions-asked money back guarantees. Use them. Sleep around a bit. Take your time, it’s worth putting in the effort. Remember, one third of your life is going to be spend on it.
Well, there you have it fellow back sufferers, three top tips that will helpfully provide a little sweet relief. Give them a go, I mean what’s the worst thing that can happen? It’s not like you are going to lose any more sleep is it?