Ever wonder why your low back may hurt so much when you wake?
Many claim they need a new mattress while others often state, “I must have slept wrong.” I agree most often with the latter. Lets examine this concept through a 24 hr window.
Let’s start with the moment you wake. Side-lying all tucked up in a ball, protecting the vital organs, staying safe from the lions that live in the bedroom. (Stomach sleepers, that’s another post.)
You feel just fine in this side-lying position, protected, warm well rested; yet the moment you attempt to come into an upright position you feel that strain begin in the low back. Why would this strain the low back, that’s not a stretch in the tissue. It may feel better to go back toward that forward bent position, take the load of the low back. Okay go pee, grab a cup a joe, and if you are like me, have a seat, get the news for the day, blog a little, fb, twitter and all that.
Okay, here, now. While you read this, I would venture to say you are seated, as most of the people I come across find it a new concept to stand while at the computer workstation. Seem like a familiar position? Are your legs crossed, or feet flat on the floor? Lumbar curve locked in or sagging the low back? How many hours will you maintain this position today? Hips flexed; deep hip flexors (psoas, iliacus) shortened. At this point many of you may get up and take out the dog, go for a run/walk or do some sun salutations, smart move!
Many people report sleeping on their stomach to be a major contributor to acute neck and low back pain. I would agree. Looking at the mechanics involved, sustained rotation of the cervical spine (neck) may certainly cram the facet joints either open or closed, the AA joint which is responsible for approximately 45 degrees of cervical rotation will become irritated and ask the brain for some protective muscle guarding. The low back will also become unhappy as a result of the gut sagging forward as the head is held up by a pillow, cramming the facet joints closed on the posterior side of the spine. With this decreased space in the length of the low back, the muscles will shorten (Davis’ Law) and hold the pattern of a “tight” low back. Never good.
As a manual therapist I recommend these people learn to modify their sleeping behavior. But what is the best way to sleep, where do we go from here?