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The Best Sleep Position for Shoulder Pain Revealed

About 70% of women and men experience sore shoulders at some time during their lives, due to traumatic injuries, degenerative conditions, repetitive use, or other causes. Without proper care, shoulder pain can recur, causing ongoing symptoms that can interfere with simple activities, including sleep.

Jersey Integrative Health and Wellness is a leading provider of shoulder pain treatment for patients in Pompton Plains and Jersey City, New Jersey. Here, our team helps you understand how sleep can help reduce chronic shoulder pain and what position is least likely to prevent you from catching those all-important Zs.

Shoulder pain basics

Your shoulder is a ball-and-socket joint that’s capable of a lot of movement and flexibility. In addition to the bones comprising the joint, your shoulder is also composed of tendons, ligaments, and muscles that help rotate your shoulder and lift your arm. 

Because the shoulder joint is so complex, there are lots of opportunities for injury. While falls and fractures are obvious causes of shoulder pain, inflammation inside the joint, cartilage damage, muscle strain, and tiny tendon tears can all cause nagging shoulder pain that can make it hard to perform even simple activities.

As with any injury, shoulder injuries require plenty of rest to give the tissues time to heal. Although healthy eating is important, data shows sleep is even more important than good nutrition when it comes to helping injuries heal. So what can you do if shoulder pain is making it hard to sleep? Optimizing your sleep position can help a lot.

The role of sleep position

When it comes to sleep positions, most of us fall into one of three groups: side-sleepers, back-sleepers, or belly-sleepers. Within those basic positions, there are lots of variations, usually depending on how you place your arms, legs, and head during sleep.

Most people don’t give a lot of thought to their sleep position, but the fact is, the way you place your body while sleeping can have a pretty big effect on your health. Generally, the best sleep positions align your spine from your neck all the way down to your hips. These positions avoid placing stress on your joints and avoid the strain that can cause a lot of pain when you wake up.

Sleep and shoulder pain

Most of us are side-sleepers, but not surprisingly, all that pressure on your shoulder joint can wind up causing a lot of discomfort in the morning and sometimes even wake us up at night. Back and belly sleeping can cause shoulder pain too, especially if the shoulders fall forward or backward or “hunch up.” 

The good news is that no matter what position you prefer, you can avoid shoulder pain by using pillows to support your shoulders, neck, and arms. Try placing a pillow under your neck to align your spine, or under one or both arms to reduce tightness in the muscles around your shoulders. 

Many side-sleepers find hugging a pillow prevents the arm they’re not sleeping on from falling forward, straining the joint.

You can also reduce your chances of shoulder pain by doing some gentle stretches before bed. Stretching helps relieve tight muscles that could contribute to shoulder pain, neck stiffness, and morning headaches, too.

Relief for aching shoulders

Of course, one of the most important things you can do to prevent shoulder pain from interfering with your sleep is to see a doctor at the first sign of pain. Our team offers shoulder treatments focused on targeting the underlying cause of pain for speedy, long-lasting relief.

To learn what’s causing your shoulder symptoms and how we can help, request an appointment online or over the phone with the team at Jersey Integrative Health and Wellness today.

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