The ALPHA how-to guide to help support injuries and alleviate pain when sleeping

How-to help support injuries and alleviate pain when sleeping

Good quality sleep is a vital component to tissue recovery following an injury as this is time where the body can rest and repair. Unfortunately, good quality sleep is easier said than done when you are dealing with pain or unable to find a comfortable position to lie in. Below you will find recommendations of different sleeping positions that have been “Physio Approved” for different types of injuries or conditions.

Supine Supported Lying

Good for: Low back injuries including disc bulges, sciatica, or varying degrees of cervical whiplash

The Set-Up:
  • Pillow #1: Place a moderate to thin pillow under the head and neck such that it’s in line with the rest of the spine. Do not have the pillow bunched underneath the shoulders or have it propping the head up.
  • Pillow #2: Place a moderate to thin pillow directly under the knees. This will help to off load any tension through the lumbar spine.

Supine Lying with Elevated Lower Extremity

Good for: Swelling at or below the knee, Low back pain

The set up:

  • Pillow #1: Place a moderate to thin pillow under the head and neck such that it’s in line with the rest of the spine.
  • Pillow #2-4: Place anywhere from 2-4 pillows under the knees and lower legs such that they rest higher than your heart. This will help with swelling reduction and reducing tension through the lumbar spine.

Supine Lying with Arm Support

Good for: Shoulder strain/sprains, Upper extremity fractures, Carpal Tunnel

The Set-Up:

  • Pillow #1: Place a moderate to thin pillow under the head and neck such that it’s in line with the rest of the spine.
  • Pillow # 2: Tuck a pillow underneath the affected shoulder and arm. Make sure the hand and arm rest flat on the pillow. This pillow will also act as a reminder to not roll to the affected side when sleeping.
  • Pillow # 3 (Optional): Place a moderate to thin pillow directly under the knees. This will help to off load any tension through the lumbar spine.

Sidelying posture- Affected side up

Good for: Shoulder impingement, Bursitis, Low back pain

The Set-Up:

  • Pillow # 1: Use a moderate size pillow to support the head and neck. The pillow should fill the space between your shoulder and neck such that the neck rests in line with the rest of the spine
  • Pillow # 2: Place the pillow directly in front of your chest. This will help to block your trunk from rolling forward and keep the spine all in line
  • Pillow # 3: Tuck a pillow between your side and the affected shoulder and arm. Make sure the hand and arm rest flat on the pillow.
  • Pillow # 4: Place a pillow between your knees and lower legs. This keeps the pelvis stacked on top of each other and minimizes any torsion through the lumbar spine.

If you are unsure which sleeping position is best for you and your injury, reach out to one of the ALPHA Physiotherapists and they’d be happy to help.

Happy Sleeping

Olivia Martins, Director of Physiotherapy

Click here to book with Olivia at ALPHA Midtown or ALPHA East

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