Are you looking for neck pain relief? It could be as easy as changing your pillow.

Neck pain and pillows

Do you wake up in the morning feeling like you’ve got a knot of muscles in your shoulders?

Do you wake up with neck stiffness & headaches that go away after you’ve had a hot shower and breakfast?

If you do, your pillow could be the cause your pain. We ask patients that complain of neck pain about their pillow. How old is your pillow? How many pillows do you sleep on? What size is your pillow? What’s your pillow made out of?

When we ask patients about their pillows, they say…

  • My Pillow? I don’t know, my wife bought it for me. Or.
  • My Pillow? I have to push it in to my neck, because it’s the only way I can get comfortable. Or.
  • My Pillow? I can’t get comfortable with my pillow; I sometimes have to get rid of it through the night.

Many people love their pillow. They take it on holiday or on business trips with them. They can’t risk a bad pillow when they arrive at their destination.

The medical profession generally disapproves of you sleeping on your front or face down. Worse than sleeping face down is sleeping face down with a pillow.

Unless you’re sleeping on a physiotherapists bed with a face hole for you to rest your cheeks on as you lie on your front, you’ll have to turn your head almost fully one way.That means you’ll be twisting your neck with a torsion or twisting force through your neck joints, nerves, muscles, ligaments and tendons. This can give you neck pain and headaches.

So you should sleep on your back or your side. This should be encouraged from childhood. As you age your joints are not as flexible or as resilient, you’ll start to get neck problems and it’ll be harder to change.It’s hard to get out of sleeping on your tummy as adults. Tennis balls sewn in T-shirts, pillows strategically placed by your side are some possible solutions.

Suggestion No.1

Use a contour Pillow which fits into the natural hollow of your neck, whether you’re on your side or back. The most popularly selling pillow at Richmond Physiotherapy Clinic is the Memory Foam Contour pillow. Ask to look at and lie on one next time you are at the clinic.

Suggestion No.2

Make sure your pillow height positions your head level with your spine. This means that broad shouldered men will need a higher pillow than most women.

Pillow height positions

Suggestion No.3

Check your position. When you’re lying in the position of your choice (not on your tummy!) get someone to look at your neck & spine alignment.

Lying on your back with your neck & head level with your spine is a good position for neck pain sufferers.

If you are lying on your side, lie with your back to the person observing you and get them to guide you to have your spine and neck straight.

If you are still in pain please contact the Richmond Physiotherapy Clinic to find out what more can be done and send your neck pain suffering friends this article.


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