Sleep Positions Matter

By the time you have read this, you may be thinking “how am I supposed to change the way I sleep after all of these years?”. Your sleep position matters, particularly if you are already beginning to experience back or neck pain. Even if you are not experiencing any discomfort, your sleep position could be hurting you.

Consider this: You spend almost one-third of your life sleeping.

This perspective changes things for many people, let’s cover some ways your sleep positions matter.

Side Sleepers: Sleeping on your side may help to relieve pressure on your back if you already suffer from aches or pain, but this position takes your hips out of alignment when one leg leans onto, or crosses over the other. A good way to relieve this is to place a pillow between your legs. The good news is, this helps to keep your hips better aligned. The bad news is, this still is not an ideal sleep position because your neck can continue to be left with inadequate support.

Stomach Sleepers: Although this may be the most ‘comfortable’ position for you, it is also the worst position to sleep in. When you sleep on your stomach, your lower back, head, and neck are forced into an unnatural position. Investing in pillows that can support your head and neck, while placing pillows under your pelvis and/or abdomen can help to modify your position. The truth is, sleeping on your stomach can never be adequately corrected with pillows. This is also the hardest sleeping position habit to break. 

Back Sleepers: This is the ideal sleep position, but there are some rules. Having a mattress that firmly supports the weight of your body is going to save you a lot of trouble in the long run. Aside from a supportive mattress, having a flat(ish) pillow will allow your head and neck to remain in alignment. Placing a pillow under your knees while you sleep is also a great way to maintain the natural curve of your spine while you drift off to sleep.

Let’s remove how good it feels to get a good night’s sleep, and keep in mind that getting adequate sleep is required for good overall health. Your body needs rest to repair itself, for your immune system to work optimally, and for your hormones and endocrine system to work the best way it can. Our moods are dependent on adequate sleep, which in turn means our relationships are also affected by how well we feel and sleep.

In short, your sleep positions matter. Not just for your mood, but your spinal alignment will determine the health of your back, neck and potential for injury. I work in the world of preventative medicine, so when patients ask how they are supposed to change the way they sleep after many years, I think about how many have been forced to change the way they sleep because of pain or injuries.

Let’s not forget that regular Chiropractic visits and adjustments go hand in hand with your spinal health and sleep positions. We simply cannot have one without the other. Even if you are not experiencing pain today, consider how you can prevent issues from forming. This is why your sleep positions matter. 


5 Things People Who Wear Heels Need to Know

The coveted high heel. Something women and men can both agree on, is that heels are attractive. They make the legs look longer, they make the muscles look a little more defined, and they create that little sway when we walk in them. Before you get out the heels for everyday living, it’s important to have these five facts about heels.

  1. Heels will shorten your calf muscles. They can make them short and compact, which is a part of the appeal. But mechanically this can cause problems like plantar fasciitis and can put too much pressure on the ball of your foot, causing pain. To ensure you are doing your best to prevent long term issues, stretch your Achilles, peroneal muscles and your calf. This can be done easily and discreetly by simply taking the shoe off and pointing your toes down and up, and by gently rolling your ankles. The goal here is to avoid permanent changes to your muscles and your gait.
  2. Keep your time in heels to a minimum. Prolonged wear should be considered, the longer you wear any heels the more damage will be done. If heels are a must for a prolonged period of time, consider bringing flats or runners with you to change into if the chance will arise to switch footwear. 
  3. Heels change your posture. Your body was not mechanically designed to carry the brunt of your weight on the ball of your foot. Wearing heels changes the alignment of your spine because the mechanics of your feet and legs are changed, and also because your body is trying to maintain balance. Be mindful of your posture while wearing heels, with your shoulders back, abdomen tucked in and an attempt at evenly distributing your weight onto your entire foot – without losing balance of course!
  4. Heels actually cause bunions. No, I’m not kidding. Wearing heels can cause those bulges at the base of your big toe that can be quite painful. If you have ever experienced a bunion, or bunion removal, I’m sure you’ll consider the amount of time you spend in heels.
  5. Heels with straps are better than heels without straps. If wearing heels is a must, it is much better to settle into a pair with straps to avoid the work your feet need to put into keeping the shoe on your foot. This unnatural tensing of the foot can be quite painful according to some of my patients. 

Choosing Aesthetics Over Comfort

The cause of many injuries that chiropractors see are the result of choosing the way they look over comfort. I am not suggesting you show up at a wedding in sneakers, but consider the amount of time you spend in heels unnecessarily. When you don’t wear heels, ensure you have access to supportive footwear for the occasion or activity. Ensure you incorporate foot and ankle stretches and exercise in your routine, and when/if possible go for walks on sand. The soft surface of sand causes your body to gently use more muscles, thus creating a stronger foundation for your feet and ankles to support your body.

I hope these five facts about heels have helped you to consider your own practices when you do indulge.