IT’S SLEEP SUNDAY SO LET’S TALK ABOUT THE BEST PILLOWS FOR BACK PAIN AND FIBROMYALGIA SUFFERERS…

If you adopt the best pillow positions for people with back pain you may find this really helps your sleep. Tuck Advanced Better Sleep says Individuals who experience back pain can adjust or reposition their pillows in order to alleviate their discomfort. According to Healthline, the following methods may be suitable for different sleepers:

  • Side sleeping with a pillow between the knees. You should ensure your body makes contact with the mattress between your shoulder and buttocks. The pillow should be placed in a position where it won’t slip out; this will help the hips and pelvis align with the spine, which can reduce pain and discomfort. If a gap forms between your side and the mattress, then a smaller pillow may be used to fill that space.
  • Fetal position with both knees tucked. To achieve this position, lie down on your back and then roll onto one side with both knees bent and tucked toward your chest. Bend your upper body toward the knees; this will help expand the spine and alleviate pressure on the disks. Be sure to rotate to the other side if you begin to experience discomfort.
  • Stomach sleeping with a pillow beneath the pelvis. Although stomach sleeping can exacerbate back pain symptoms, a pillow placed under the pelvis can relieve stress on the neck and back disks. Some sleepers in this position are more comfortable without a pillow beneath their head.
  • Back sleeping with a pillow beneath the knees. Lay flat on your back and place a pillow beneath both knees. This helps straighten out the spine and alleviates pressure points between the neck and hips. If you find this is insufficient, consider placing a rolled-up towel under your lower back.

 There are six standard sizes for pillows, as well as smaller specialty sizes normally associated with specific pillow types (such as orthopedic memory foam pillows). The following table breaks down the width and length dimensions of these seven sizes, as well as suitable pillowcase measurements.

PILLOW SIZE DIMENSIONS PILLOW CASE SIZE AND DIMENSIONS NOTES
Small 20W” x 12L” Specialty sizes Normally found with orthopedic/cervical pillows (see below)
Standard 20W” x 26L” Standard (20-21W” x 30-32″L) The most common pillow size, as well as the most compact and usually the least expensive
Super Standard 20W” x 28L” Standard (20-21W” x 30-32″L) Slightly longer than the Standard, but uses Standard-size pillowcases
Queen 20W” x 30L” Standard (20-21W” x 30-32″L) Queen (20-22W” x 30-34L”) The second most common pillow size, and suitable for most people who toss and turn
King 20W” x 36L” King (20-21W” x 36-41″L) Good for people who toss and turn, and also makes good headrests and backrests
Euro 26W” x 26L” 24W” x 24L”

22W” x 22L”

20W” x 20L”

18W” x 18L”

16W” x 16L”

Euro (dimensions vary) The only standard pillow size that is square-shaped, and not normally used for primary sleeping pillows
Body Pillow 54W” x 20L” 48W” x 20L” Body pillow (dimensions vary) The longest pillow size, mostly suitable for side sleepers and pregnant women

Pillow shape is also important for people with back pain. Although a wide selection of pillow shapes are available, pillows generally fall into one of these two categories:

  • Even: These pillows have an even, non-contoured surface. They may not be as suitable for sleepers with back pain, but pillows made from certain materials (such as shredded memory foam or feathers) conform beneath the head and neck for targeted pain and pressure relief.
  • Curved: Also known as cervical or orthopedic pillows, curved pillows are usually made from foam and have a contoured surface. The neck is raised with the area for the head dips down, which can provide better support for people with neck pain — but some sleepers claim that these pillows are more comfortable when they are placed upside down on the mattress.

Lastly, let’s discuss pillow loft, a term that refers to how thick a pillow is when not bearing weight. Specific loft measurements vary by model, but there are three general loft categories:

  • Low-loft: Less than three inches thick.
  • Medium-loft: Three to five inches thick.
  • High-loft: More than five inches thick.

The loft will help determine how supportive and comfortable the pillow feels, and whether it is suitable for people with back pain. However, there are several factors to take into account when selecting a pillow based on loft. These include:

Sleep position: Choosing the right pillow based on loft depends on whether the sleeper prefers the back, side, or stomach position.

  • Back-sleepers are usually most comfortable with medium-loft pillows because they find the right balance between thickness and softness.
  • Side-sleepers often prefer medium- or high-loft pillows because this position can cause large gaps to form between their head/neck and the pillow.
  • Stomach-sleepers tend to prefer low-loft pillows because higher-loft models elevate the neck too much, causing the spine to become uneven; this can lead to aches and pains throughout the body. Some stomach sleepers find that not using a pillow at all is most comfortable.

Pillow position: People who sleep with a pillow completely beneath often prefer medium-loft pillows because there is less space. For those who sleep with a pillow partially beneath their head, then a medium- or high-loft pillow may be needed to fill the larger gap.

Mattress type: Certain mattresses, such as all-foam and latex models, are designed to sink deeply beneath the sleeper’s body. A low-loft pillow may be most suitable for these mattresses because there is less space between the neck and the mattress surface. Other mattresses, such as innersprings and hybrids, are less responsive and will not sink as much. A medium- or high-loft pillow can help fill the extra space and provide more support.

Body weight: People with above-average weights (more than 230 pounds) may sink deeper into their mattress than lighter individuals, and thus prefer a low- or medium-loft pillow that won’t elevate their heads too much. People with below-average weights (less than 130 pounds) may prefer medium- or high-loft pillows because they don’t sink as much.

Head size: People with larger-than-average heads are more likely to feel comfortable on a high-loft pillow that won’t sink too deeply. Low- or medium-loft pillows may be the best option for those with small or average-size heads

Shoulder width: People with wider shoulder spans experience larger gaps between their head/neck and their pillow, and may need a higher-loft pillow to compensate for space. Those with narrower shoulders usually feel more comfortable with low- or medium-loft pillows.

It’s important to note that many pillows offer adjustable loft. The owner simply unzips the pillow cover and adds or removes the fill material to increase or decrease the loft. Adjustable-loft pillows may be the best option for people whose loft preferences tend to vary from night tonight.

Best Pillow Materials for People with Back Pain

Pillows come in a wide selection of fill materials, each with unique benefits and drawbacks for sleepers with back pain. The table below lists pros, cons, and back pain ratings for the seven most common pillow materials.

PILLOW MATERIAL DESCRIPTION PROS CONS NECK PAIN RATING
Buckwheat The pillows are filled with five to 10 pounds of buckwheat hulls, or outer shells Adjustable loft Sleeps cool

Good support

High price Too firm for some

Heavy and difficult to move

Good Buckwheat pillows offer adjustable loft and sleep fairly cool, but many people with back pain find they are too firm
Down The pillows contain the soft inner plumage of ducks or geese, and may also be padded with outer feathers Adjustable loft Lightweight

Sleeps cool

High price Flatten easily

Too soft for some

Fair
Most down pillows are not suitable for sleepers with back pain because they are excessively soft and will lose their shape quickly
Down Alternative The pillows are filled with polyester fibers that mimic the softness of real down Adjustable loft Lightweight

Low price

Short lifespan Flatten easily

Too soft for some

Poor Most sleepers with back pain do not feel comfortable on down alternative pillows because they are too soft and will become flat rather quickly
Feather Pillows are filled with outer feathers of ducks or geese (as opposed to down, or inner plumage) Adjustable loft Lightweight

Long lifespan

High cost Flatten easily Very Good Feather pillows tend to be firmer than down pillows, making them more suitable for people with back pain
Latex Pillows contain solid latex, a substance extracted from the sap of rubber trees Close conforming Long lifespan

Retain full shape without flattening

Non-adjustable loft High cost

Dense and heavy

Good Latex pillows offer even support, but the loft is not adjustable
Memory Foam Pillows may contain shredded or solid pieces of memory foam, which softens when it comes into contact with body heat Close conforming Adjustable loft if shredded

Lightweight

High cost Sleeps hot Very Good Memory foam pillows conform closely and alleviate a high amount of pressure; most orthopedic pillows are made from memory foam
Polyester Pillows contain shredded polyfoam, which has a similar feel to memory foam, or interlocking polyester fibers that give the pillow a fuller shape Low cost Adjustable loft when shredded Short lifespan Flattens easily

Sleeps hot

Good Memory foam pillows provide more pain and pressure relief, but polyfoam pillows can be a low-cost alternative for people with back pain

Additionally, some pillows contain interior water chambers that can be filled or drained to adjust the loft. The chambers are usually padded with foam to make the pillow more comfortable. Many sleepers with back pain claim that water chamber pillows alleviate pain and pressure to a noticeable extent.

THE BAD BACK COMPANY SPECIALIST BLOG AND “Me”…

Tim Everett owner of The Bad Back Company approached me at a health event recently and asked me if I would be interested in writing a regular post on his Specialist Blog about A Day in the life of a Back Pain Sufferer‘.

Of course I said I’d be delighted to write for him. This is the link to my first introductory post which will lead onto my regular slot which I hope some of my readers will enjoy.

Tim is a practicing osteopath for over 20 years, and he recognised products that can assist with pain relief and injury recovery. He has a team of specialists whom he works closely with to ensure they have a large range of products for different conditions on his website, The Bad Back Company.

BACK PAIN AWARENESS WEEK 8th-12th OCTOBER, 2018 (#backpainweek)…

Back Pain Awareness Week (#backpainweek) this year is the 8th-12th October, and the theme this year is back pain in older adults.

Backcare write that Back pain is one of the major disabling health conditions among older adults aged 60 years and older. Many causes of lower back pain are age-related with physical and psychosocial changes. There is a distinct lack of awareness, especially in older adults to the causes and effects of back pain and pain management. 

In BackCare’s TalkBack Summer Magazine an article from Arthritis Research point out that INCREASING numbers of people are suffering from low back pain worldwide – an issue being made worse by the prevalence of inappropriate treatment methods, according to recent scientific papers published by The Lancet.

It is most common and burdensome in working populations, with many older people finding that their back pain prevents them from taking part in daily activities. Although most cases of low back pain are short-lasting, recurrences are common, with the costs associated with back pain-related healthcare and work disability
shown to be enormous.

For more information on the Back Pain Awareness Week (#backpainweek) make sure you check out my posts.

5 OF THE BEST YOGA APPS…

YOGA WAKE UP...

Wake up to the sounds of yoga and meditation. The Yoga Wake Up app for iPhone delivers yoga audio sequences you can do from bed for an easier transition from dreamland. Find a variety of yoga routines from the world’s top yoga instructors and wellness warriors. Choose from Wakeups that feature slow, delicious morning stretches from the warmth of your covers or Wakeups that get you energized and out of bed. There are even mindful breathing meditations and Wakeups to do with kids.

Studies have consistently shown that traditional alarm clocks and snooze buttons not only disturb your sleeping patterns but can leave you feeling groggy for the rest of the day. Discover a new wakeup routine designed by renowned yogis and never have to hit that snooze button again. Wake up more peacefully with Yoga Wake Up.

YOGA STUDIO…

For a comprehensive collection of yoga classes, opt for Yoga Studio. They offer 15-, 20-, and 30-minute pre-made classes, plus allow you to make up your own class using their library of 280 yoga poses (they’ll suggest the sequence so it actually flows together). The other nice thing about this app is that you can download the workouts to use offline, or stream the classes on your Apple TV or laptop.

 

 

Yoga Studio includes 75+ ready-made classes; including Yoga for Back Pain, Yoga for Runners, our new Hip Hop Collection and many more! Choose your level (beginner, intermediate or advanced), duration (15, 30 or 60 minutes) and focus (strength, flexibility, relaxation, balance or combination) to find the perfect class for you. They think learning how to move from one pose to the next is important – just as important as learning the poses themselves. That’s why all their classes come with full HD video and teacher commentary that’s clear and easy to follow.

Vinyasa yoga might sound like a snooze, but this app makes it more interesting with three different class structures and accompanying playlists. Each time you use the app, Down Dog will mix up the workout so you never have to repeat a flow. (BTW, the free version is great, and you’re not missing much if you opt out of the pro membership.) Down Dog

The Down Dog App provides a studio-like yoga experience in the comfort of your home.

Each time you practice, Down Dog creates a brand new vinyasa yoga sequence so that you never run out of content. Clear vocal instruction and a matching playlist round out the experience for a true studio-quality class.

DAILY YOGA…

There are yoga workouts for all levels on this app, but if you’re just starting off you’ll find the set plans very helpful. The programs range from one week to 30 days long, and focus on a theme, like fitness or mindfulness. They even have specialised courses to help you learn to safely do a split or shoulder stand.

Daily Yoga inspires yogis worldwide with the largest yoga pose base. Enables you to practice yoga on all mobile devices and multiplatforms.

ASANA REBEL…

The yoga routines offered on this app combine interval training and traditional yoga to help you build strength, so be prepared to break a sweat and do lots of planks. There are distinct categories for the yoga flows (like strength, flexibility, and relaxation), so you can dial it up or down depending on your mood.

  • Hundreds of modern yoga workouts from fatburn to strength
  • Mini-sessions for busy schedules
  • High-quality programs designed by our experts