Approximately 1/3 of our life is spent lying in bed, on the couch, and on the floor. Like other positions, there is a right way and a wrong way to lie. For individuals suffering from pain,
modifications may be necessary to obtain a "pain-free" position or a position which does not aggravate the pain.
Extended periods of "stomach lying" should be avoided. This is because excessive stress is placed on the joints of the low back and because excessive rotation must take place in the neck. Neck pain, back pain, headaches, dizziness, as well as arm paresthesias are commonly experienced when in this position for an extended period of time. If you must lie in this position to relieve pain or for some other reason, keep one leg bent with the same side arm raised with approximately 90 degrees of flexion at the shoulder and elbow joints.
Most people find lying on their back to be a relatively comfortable position. For individuals suffering from back problems, placing a folded pillow underneath the knees will help reduce tension in the lower back and make this position more tolerable. Some individuals may also find placing a small pillow or towel under their lower back to be helpful. This will help to maintain the natural curve of the lumbar spine.
Lying on your side is a favored position by many individuals. It may also be a comfortable position that provides relief for individuals with back problems. It's important while in this position to have adequate support for the head and neck. A pillow which fills the gap between the head/neck and the bed should be used to keep the head and neck in line with the rest of the spine. Additionally, placing a pillow between the knees will help reduce lumbar and pelvic torsion. Women with larger hip and small waists will find a small pillow under the waist will prevent lateral bending of the spine while lying on the side.
Choosing a pillow which supports the cervical spine is extremely important, especially for those with neck or upper back problems as well as those with a history of headaches. There are a number of cervical pillows on the market, however, many of the inexpensive pillows (those under $20) are poorly designed with rigid foam which does not conform to the natural contours of the head and neck. Look for a cervical pillow which will contour to the shape and size of your head and neck while still providing support. Don't be scared to spend a little extra on a high quality pillow - it's well worth the money, and besides, it's something you'll use everyday.