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Stiffness around cervical spine --sleeping on back with higher pillow the cause?

vandu
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09/04/2012 - 6:48am
Stiffness around cervical spine --sleeping on back with higher pillow the cause?

i've been getting this stiffness frequently lately.  i'm guessing it's at my cervical spine, or between it and thoracic.  i can't turn my head as far to the left or right. and i cant' fully tilt my head up. it usually lasts for a few days. is this a common stiffness?

  i get it when i sleep in an awkward position. normally i do some stretchlying when i first get into bed..and then switch to my side and do side stretchlying.  i use a bigger pillow on my side and flatter one for when i'm on my back.

my 19 month old crawls into bed with us at some point each night. i think the stiffness results when i end up tightly sandwhiched between him and my husband.  our bed is big but my baby is physically clingy in his sleep and i'm stuck then because if i move too much he wakes and wants to nurse (yet again).  so then i cant easily adjust my position

i think i know what causes the stiffness when i'm sandwhiched between my son and husband, sometimes i end up on my back and can't switch to the flatter pillow so i'm on my back on a higher pillow. i try to bring my shoulders onto the pillow but since it's bigger/higher pillow,  perhaps it throws my spine out of alignment? and if i can't manage to get shoulders up on pillow..it throws my neck even more out of alignment than if i had flatter pillow.

One thing i need to remember to do is put my baby inbetween us so i dont get sandwhiched and i have some space to move away from him.

So i want to know..is using the higher pillow on my back causing the stiffnes? Is it important to have a lower/flatter pillow when I go on my back?

is it okay to use higher pillow when on my side? i only rest my head on pillow when on my side. i also end up putting my arm under the pillow when on my side.

Is there anything i can do on my own to alleviate the stiffness? it's been a few days, and last night, even though i slept away from baby and tried to sleep correctly on back or side, the stiffness is there.

Thanks for any suggestions.

 

 

charlenehannibal
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12/15/2010 - 7:51am

Hello, 

Yes, you are correct in that you typically want a higher pillow for Side Stretchlying and a lower flatter pillow for Stretchlying on the back.  There is no "one-size-fits-all" for pillows.  Everybody needs a different amount of support depending upon their neck curvature (sometimes those with a lot of curvature require a higher pillow even on the back so the chin doesn't lift and the back of the head falls back, thus creating too much curve).  Or if a student has broad shoulders, then the pillow must be especially thick for side-sleeping so the head doesn't dangle downward and create too much tilt in the head/neck position.  If you keep your arm under your head for side-sleeping, you may not require too much thickness in your pillow.  Your arm will provide some height, which is good.  So, if your pillow is too thick on the side, then your head will tilt up towards the ceiliing which is not ideal either.  A lot to think about in the middle of the night!  

The stiffness could also be due to general neck positioning regardless of pillow height.  If you can, try to lengthen the back of the neck and let the chin drop down slightly whether you are on your side or back.  On the side, the face wants to fall slightly downward into the pillow.

 

I hope this is helpful to you!

 

Warmly, 

Charlene Hannibal

Gokhale Method Teacher, Palo Alto/San Francisco

vandu
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09/04/2012 - 6:48am

Hi Charlene, thanks for your response yes it is helpful.  to make things eaiser for myself i have been sticking with a pillow that's fine on back and on side it's fine with my arm under it..to avoid ending up on back with a big pillow.    actuallyt he big pillow is really just stuffed with shredded natural rubber and feels great except you have to sort of reshape it to flatten it or rebuild it to make it bigger for sleeping on side.  somehow it just wasnt' working for me, too bad.  i will try the stretching of the neck as you suggested. 

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