One of the most common things I hear in my Comox Valley Chiropractic clinic is a complaint of pain in the morning. This can happen for two main reasons.
Most people think that their morning pain is due to sleeping on an old pillow or mattress. It is true that an un-supportive mattress or pillow will hold the body in an improper position for the duration of the night. This can slowly but surely irritate your spine and all its structures resulting in pain and stiffness upon waking. However, this is not the main cause of pain in the morning.
In my opinion, this pain results from the aggravation of an already existing condition. Most musculo-skeletal conditions heal faster and feel better with exercise, and feel worse when you have to sit or stand in one position for too long. When you have a pre-existing condition that is giving you some problems, or perhaps one that hasn’t started to hurt yet but is on the verge of appearing, it can be very sensitive to sleeping positions. A stiff spine coupled with staying in one position for 6-8 hours (tossing and turning doesn’t count!) is a recipe for more pain when you get up.
So, what do you do? Here are my top 5 tips for avoiding this pain (in the order you should try them):
1. Exercise more. Regular cardio exercise will help to keep the spine healthy and flexible, and can often work out the stiffness that builds up after 8 hours at the computer. The more active you are, the more your body will tolerate longer periods of time spent inactive.
2. Stretch more. A good round of stretching before bed, and regularly throughout the day, will ensure good flexibility of the spine. Flexibility helps to keep the spine healthy, whether active or inactive.
3. Get a new pillow. You don’t have to go out and spend excessive amounts of money at the start. I usually tell my patients to simply get a new regular pillow. If that doesn’t do the trick, then start looking into more specialized pillows. Different people respond to different pillows, so you need to find the one that works best for you.
4. Visit your Comox Valley Chiropractor. If you have tried 1 through 3 and can’t seem to get the pain under control, it may be that you need some help. Chiropractic treatment will restore the proper functioning of the muscles, joints and nerves of your spine allowing you to maintain your health with the above options. Sometimes when the dysfunction has built up you need some help to get rid of it.
5. Get a new bed. If your bed is older than 10 years old, or all other options haven’t worked, this is a good idea. I recommend buying a bed on the firmer side, and adding a mattress pad to soften it up if needed. If you buy a bed that is too soft to begin with, there is not a lot you can do. You spend 1/3 of your life in bed sleeping, and so its a good idea to take the purchase of this important piece of furniture seriously.
If you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact your Comox Valley Chiropractor for more information.