Neck pain affects a large percentage of people at some stage during their life. Research has shown that neck pain is most prevalent in the 50-59 year age group and that females are more affected than males. There are many factors that can contribute to neck pain including: poor posture, whiplash injuries, muscle weakness and tight muscles.
The humble pillow is another factor that can have an effect on neck pain. Since one-third of our life is spent sleeping, it makes sense that a good pillow can reduce strain on the neck and associated muscles often allowing you to sleep more soundly. Conversely a poor pillow may cause or exacerbate neck pain with interrupted sleep patterns.
Our cervical spine (neck) has a natural curve which develops soon after birth as we begin to hold our head upright. This natural curve is designed to facilitate optimal movement and load transfer in the neck.
Several studies have investigated the effect of pillows on neck pain and found that correct pillow selection can significantly reduce neck pain and improve quality of sleep. A pillow with firm support for the natural curve of the neck had the best results to reduce neck pain.
Even with a good pillow, we can still strain our necks by sleeping in a poor position. Avoid sleeping on your stomach as this puts a lot of pressure on your neck as it turns your head for long periods. Try to sleep on your back or side maintaining the natural curve of your neck and keeping your neck straight.
A free assessment of your sleeping position and body shape can determine the best pillow for you in order to gain the optimal neck position during sleeping.
If you already have neck pain
Come and see one of our physiotherapists at Sport & Spinal Physiotherapy and we will sort it out. Poor pillow selection may be one factor, but our physios will also look at muscle tightness, joint stiffness, posture, muscle strength and stability. We will address these problems with a combination of hands-on therapy and exercises. Not only will we help relieve your symptoms, but we will also show you how to prevent your neck pain from coming back.