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BEST Sleeping Position for Back Pain, Neck Pain, & Sciatica


♪ Bob and Brad ♪ ♪ The two most famous
physical therapists ♪ ♪ On the internet ♪ (clapping) Hi folks, I’m Bob Shrupp,
physical therapist. – Brad Heineck, physical therapist. – And we are the most
famous physical therapists on the internet. – In our opinion, of course, Bob. – Today, Brad, we’re
gonna talk about the best sleeping position for back
pain, neck pain, and sciatica. These are tips from physical therapists. That’s what we are. And by the way, if you stumbled
upon our channel, welcome. And if you are new to our channel, please take a second to subscribe to us because we provide videos
on stay healthy, fit, pain-free, and we upload every day. Also, you’re gonna wanna join us on our social media channels
because we are always givin’ something away, Brad, right? – You better believe it, Bob. – So, especially go to bobandbrad.com. Go to giveaway section or go to Facebook. It’s always pinned at the top of the page. We are, this week, giving away, the Dozeology weighted blanket. This thing weighs 15 pounds
but it’s great for anxiety. – [Brad] Sure. – And really calms you down, so. Nothing else, you can’t get out of bed because it weighs you down, right? So, you sleep longer.
(Brad laughs) – Yeah, get the freebee.
– That’s right. Well, we’re actually
gonna bring Liz in here, just a minute, just wait a minute. – What about me? – Yeah, you’re gonna get kicked– – Ah, no, I’m out.
– No, well, you can stay tuned. You can stayed tuned because
we’re gonna have to do any camera angles here.
– Okay. – So, when we’re trying to establish the best sleeping posture, Brad, – we’re looking at two main things. One, we’re trying to keep the
back in a neutral posture. – Neutral? – Yes. – Neutral. You better do a little explaining here. – Yeah, now if, Brad, if
you’re standing this way – This way. – And he’s got good posture. He’s got a slight curve in
here, a slight curve out here, and a slight curve in here. If he’s in bad posture, he’s
kinda rounded out like this. So, when he’s sleeping, we wanna have him in that same position, slight curve in, slight curve out, slight curve in. So, as we’re going through
the different positions, we’ll mention this. – Lots of curves, Bob. – Yup, lots of curves. – Okay. – And the other thing
we wanna make sure is that joints are not at their end range. – Sure. – So, like if your neck
si all the way to the, rotated to the right,
– Right. – it is at end range. That’s not gonna be comfortable. If you’re arm is curled up
like this all night long, it’s not gonna be comfortable. – If you lay on your
stomach and your arms are up above your head and underneath like that, shoulders are gonna have problems. – Excellent point, Brad. – Say no more. – Okay, we’re gonna bring
in Liz, our camera woman, for a number of reasons. One, Liz is a lot better
looking as a model, but, two, we wanna mention
Liz’s channel with Alex. – Oh, say no more, Bob. – We gotta a sign for that, too. – [Brad] I’m glad you mention it. I kinda like the colors.
– There we go. – I think Liz picked those colors. – Gotta check it out. It’s a funny channel. They go on family, the family
product channel, right? – Right. – So, check it out
(Liz cheers) and we’ll have a link down below, so. – We didn’t mike Liz up so
she’s kinda like a mute. – Yeah, that’s right. All right, we’re gonna start
off with Liz on your back. So, the first you can see here, when you’re on your back
and you’re trying to get that spine kinda level out here, you don’t wanna have two pillows, or event too thick of a pillow. – Right, it puts that head in that forward flex posture and that neck. Then there’s problems.
– In there. And look at that. Does that look comfortable? I would say not. – Well, some people may do this
to watch the TV on the wall or to read a book or look
at your tablet, cell phone. – And that’s highly not acceptable. – Right, it’s not acceptable.
– So, really, actually a thin pillow, if you’re
gonna be on your back. And then, we’re gonna go along. We’re trying to get that
little bit of a curve, especially if you’re having back pain in your low back.
– Yeah. – So, in order to establish that, there’s a number of things we can do. Boy, I got stuff here, don’t I, Brad? – Oh, Bob, you got all kinds of gadgets. – Why don’t you sit up
just for a second Liz? You can actually take a rolled sheet. – [Brad] That’s what we have here. – And, yup, and tie it around her. – [Brad] Here, can you grab that, Liz? There you go.
Lie, you can go ’round ten times on Liz here. (Bob laughs)
– Yeah, well, yup. There you go. So, that’s gonna supply
that lumbar support where that natural curve is
just above the belt line. – Right, why don’t you go
ahead and lay back down, Liz? We’re gonna be a lot up and down here. But, so now you can see that
curve has been established. So,
– You can feel that support there, right, Liz? Now, I don’t wanna me, we
shouldn’t get into this, but I know with the
right kind of mattress, that can also do this as well. – That’s right. The SleepOvation mattress
– Which – We’re gonna mention here. The other thing, there is a sleep roll you can buy from McKenzie, and
this just ties around here. And you’re gonna see that it actually comes in handy also when
you lay on your side, but we’ll mention that, right. Oh, you can leave that on right there. – Often time, you know,
I’ll use these with people with sciatica for
sleeping, the sleep roll. But, you know, this is
something, an option. It’s not quite as nice as
these, but it’s much cheaper. It’s right there.
– Okay, Liz, we’re gonna have you lay down again,
up and down, up and down. All right, the next thing
is, right now the hips are kind of extended, aren’t they? They’re at end range. – [Brad] Well, that’s pushin’ it Bob. – It is but to be honest,
with a lot of people, especially if they have tight hip flexors, the tight hip flexors are
gonna attach to the pelvis and they’re gonna pull
your back like this. – [Brad] Exact, so we get that anterior
– Tilt. – pelvic tilt, puts a
little stress on things. – Right, it’s not comfortable. So, I think you’d find most people, people find that they are more comfortable with a couple pillows underneath the legs. So, yes, you’re gonna
have to invest in pillows, (Brad laughs) but it’s a good investment, especially if you’re having back pain. I think a lot of people find this to be a very comfortable
position with back pain. – Are you comfortable?
– There you go. Do you wanna fall asleep, Liz? Yes. – All right, a different
device, for if you wanted to purchase something and
we are big fans of this. Brad, you’re especially a big fan of this. – [Brad] Oh yeah, I use
these on probably 90% of my back patients while they’re getting a cold pack on their in the clinic. I keep one next to my bed,
through, when I need it. – Yeah, this is the pillow wedge. Is that right? Yeah, that’s what it’s called. No, leg wedge.
– Leg, leg wedge, yes. – And they’re not, what
they’re like 25 bucks or something like that? – [Brad] Right, you get ’em online. They ship ’em right to your house. – I know some people would ask, how much, how high they are.
– Yes. – I don’t think that
really matters to someone– – Well, you know, I
think it’s eight inches. I should have my measuring
stick here for that, but I– – My hand is eight inches
long, look at that. It’s eight inches.
– There you go. This right here angle
is a key thing with this that separates it from the pillows. – Sure, it does. For some reason, this
feels really good to get constant contact all
the way along the leg. – [Brad] Do you agree, Liz? – Yeah.
– Well, what else is she gonna say?
– Yeah, I know. (Brad laughs)
She can go like this. She can go that is so.
– Well, course. – All right, so that covers on the side. You know, one thing,
Brad, do we wanna mention, there’s that other wedge that may be– – [Brad] Oh, the wedge? – Yeah, you’d have to find it, right? – [Brad] Well, it’s
right on the other side of our curtain.
– Okay, I’ll do the side one. And you can go look for that. – Yeah, I’ll be right back.
– Now, we’re gonna have Liz lay on her side. She’s gonna roll towards me. This immediately shows you why this works out well for
this, on the side lying, ’cause normally as she lays on her side, the back is gonna sag down a little bit. And this actually helps
maintain that curve, now, even when she’s on her side. So, it serves a dual purpose, basically. Now, when she’s on her side, this is a case where you may actually wanna have two pillows or double up your pillow
– Sure. – because this is a
wider gap here, you know? – You gotta make up for that shoulder. – We don’t want you this way,
we don’t want you this way. We want you right in the middle. You actually don’t look too bad
right there, Liz, with that. So, I would probably not make
any change to that right now. – [Brad] And we don’t
wanna mess up her hairdo, ’cause I really like it today. (Liz laughs) – All right, today? You mean you didn’t
like it the other days? – [Brad] Well, this is different. – Oh Liz, Liz, Liz. – [Brad] Don’t put me
in a position like that. I’ve been married.
– Okay. The other thing is if
you don’t have a pillow between the leg, what happens
is that you’re actually putting a little twist on the back. You know, the pelvis is comin’ over. – Yeah, pelvis. Especially if this knee
goes forward like that, then we get a little rotation. – Right, so it’s good to actually put a pillow between the legs and, (Brad laughs) What are you laughing at? – More pillows. – Yeah, that’s right. It’s really not that many, though. – No, but it’s true, it
makes a big difference. – If you get by with three. So, this is a very comfortable position. You know, you may even wanna go this way so that it gets between the ankles, too. – Well, she doesn’t sleep, do
you sleep with your shoes on? – [Liz] No. – Now, she says no.
– I was right. – Okay, one other thing
I was gonna mention for the neck, Brad, – Okay. Oh, yeah.
– and I haven’t used this too much but I’ve
used it a couple of times. You can actually take a pillowcase
and you fold it in half, lengthwise, and you fold
it again, lengthwise. – [Brad] You could use
a towel, if you wanted. – And you could use a towel. But this actually works pretty well. And you go around like
this and you pin it, and it just gives you a little support. It prevents you from doing this,
– Right. – and this. – So, it kind of keeps you in line. – Sure. – So, you can do that
and you can have it on laying on your back or
laying on your side. – And, you know, that’s
one of those things, if someone has a neck
problem, we’ll do that. It’s kinda like a, it reminds me– – Like a collar.
– Right. – It’s like a neck collar. It’s more of reminder ’cause
it’s a very soft collar, so. – Right, keep your, so
you can get your pillow in the right position, et cetera. – While we’re in this position, Brad, before we get right back to that, I’m gonna show one other sciatica position that works out really well.
– Oh, yes. – So, let’s say Liz is
having sciatica pain down the leg, this left leg. What you wanna do is lay on the side so that the painful leg is up. – Okay. – So, this is the painful leg. And what we’re gonna
do is actually you take just one pillow and put it
under the ankle and generally, a lot of times, is what
it takes is two pillows. – Mkay. – But you take two pillows,
give it a try like this. And it just, by angling the legs this way, you’re opening the back a little bit. And I’ve seen, quite often,
you’ve seen this too, haven’t you Brad?
– Yup, yeah. – Where it actually takes away the pain and they’re able to sleep. – And you’ll know it. You just try it, it’s gonna work right. It’s gonna say, oh, that
feels better, then use it. If it doesn’t make it feel better, don’t. – Right. So, we’re gonna swing back to go and havin’ her on her back.
– Yes. – Before we do that, though, I’m gonna mention one last thing. What about on the stomach?
– Ah, yes. – Basically, we’ll
telling you to avoid that as much as possible. Your neck is rotated one way or the other. I don’t mind if you’re there
for a short period of time, but I would try not to
sleep all night like that. Your back is extended
and there’s compression on your chest and the
organs and then it’s all. – There’s always comments
people that habitually sleep on their stomach and I
guess they’ve adapted to it. They’re healthy and
viable enough to do that. – I see a lot of people that get headaches on a continuous basis because
they sleep on their back. But that’s just my observation. (Brad laughs) Okay, Liz, we’re gonna have
you go back on your back. And then we’re gonna take the– – [Brad] Wedge. – The wedge. – Not the leg wedge, just the wedge. – It’s just called the wedge? – [Brad] Yup, I believe
that, sleeping wedge, or. – So, what’s nice about this, I’m gonna have you come up
a little bit further, Liz, so I, yeah, there we go. See now, she’s in pretty
decent position here. So, if she was going to
read a book or watch TV, it’s just a lot more acceptable to me. – [Brad] And also, if some
people have a breathing problem or they need to be
elevated for their lungs, this is a nice option. – One final thing, we’ll mention the contour pillow here, Brad. – [Brad] Yeah, because
a lot of people ask, is this a viable option? Is it gonna be helpful? – It is, but I’m telling
you, it’s really hard to find one that fits you just right. You know, I mean, you may
have to order a few before, – Right, your daughter
had done that, right? – My daughter ordered one. It didn’t work. The second one she loved. So, I mean it really did the job, so it’s a tough call for me because unless you’re going into a
store or something, it’s, – Where you can try it. But, they’re typically memory foam. They have this so that it does support the neck.
– Support the neck. – And it’s the, the design. Oh, I’m talking to you. The design is really quite nice. – Speaking of which, Brad, we only have about 20 seconds left.
– [Brad] Oh, wow. – So, Brad and I can
fix just about anything. – Except for? – A broken heart. – Right. Maybe Liz can help. – Yeah, there we go. – We did never did ask a woman on this yet.
– That’s right. (Liz laughs) We’ve broken some women’s hearts. (Brad laughs) Thanks a lot. (synthesizer theme)

63 thoughts on “BEST Sleeping Position for Back Pain, Neck Pain, & Sciatica

  1. I bought that leg wedge a few years ago. It was great as far as positioning my lower back, but with the sharp edge that my feet were hanging off of (like Liz’s were in your video) my feet were going numb and my ankles hurt. I would need it longer so my heels were supported on the surface. I’m not particularly tall (5’6”) and don’t have long legs. So I couldn’t use that wedge.

  2. New subscriber.. u guys r great!.. can u advise me on the following: I am 31 and have had random pain on wrist and random arm numbness.. now for past three days my Thumb and fingers feel weak… as in can’t open bottles as usual, hold fork or pencil normally..very nervous as to what it could be so any advice would be great to ease my mind .. thanks !

  3. I usually try to sleep flat on my back with my shoulders on my pillow so my lower back rotates into the mattress. It works okay, but I should probably try the thing with the towel.

  4. This was posted a such a perfect time for me. Strained my neck and now about to go to sleep. Thanks for the video!

  5. I have a herniated disk and sciatica pain for the last few years. This year while being pregnant has been the worst pain. I had to go on medical leave. It’s interesting you recommend laying on your good leg. I cannot. I can only get comfortable on my bad leg. I don’t know what it is

  6. Thanks for this. I've got nerve pain in my neck and pain in my shoulders and back. I dread going to bed because I know when I wake up I'm going to be so sore and in pain. I'm in the process of getting a mattress topper. My sleep number is unhelpful. But I know I need another pillow. But the sheet and pillow case trick I am definitely going to try it. I have like 10 pillows and have been on a quest to find the perfect pillow. I'm 35 and have yet to find the miracle pillow or bed. Lol. I enjoy your videos.

  7. Hi, Brad! Hi, Bob!
    Nuts, the only problem with lying on the right side is that it will aggravate GERDS.

  8. Liz is great she is such a good model for your videos this was a really great video on how to keep the neck and back free of pain while sleeping I will definitely be trying all of your techniques thanks again bob and brad for your expertise 👍😊

  9. Does this also help to fall asleep? Or is it something that is gonna make it harder to fall asleep u til you get used to the position?

  10. One day Brad is going to hit Bob in the face with that sign!

    There have been a couple of near misses recently.

  11. I use your advice making a canal between 2 pillows for my shoulder to go in and it works GREAT! Thank you Bob & Brad : ))

  12. I still remember when I used to sleep in any position ….with any pillow.. on any mattress and wake up feeling great. Ahh what a memory

  13. Oh my! I get it now. Sleeping on my stomach with my arms under the pillow and my head turned to the left gives me a sore neck and shoulders. But that's how I sleep! It's not a conscious choice.

  14. I have the leg wedge. The slanted part is too long for me. I'm only 5' tall. So I turn it around and use it with the slant pointing away from me, toward the foot of the bed. Works well that way.

  15. I move around constantly all night and the pillows I use to pad fall out of bed. I wish I could sleep steadily on my back all the time.

  16. If i attempt to sleep the way in the thumbnail, my hips hurt immediately and pop when i move around, so i sleep on my back always

  17. You hardly ever hear anyone talking seriously about HOW to sleep it's always just how long you should sleep, great video.

  18. Hey guys, this is Sharon from Germany. I am a physical therapist, too, and I just wanted to let you know that the quote in your intro is from a guy called

    Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

    Ich wollte euch das nur kurz schreiben, immerhin sieht sich das jemand aus Goethes Geburtsland an.

    Keep up the good work ♥

  19. Aloha, love ypur show! Question- I always get my back messed up whenever I get a cold or flu and get in odd positions to breathe better while sleeping. I also have sleep apnea that the cpap mask doesn't help. (No masks fit right, and I have sensory integration issues, with possible autism. Dercum's Disease, Asthma, type 3c Diabetes, & I use a wheelchair.) I injured my sciatic joint plus lower back in a car accident. I have a pain pump between L1 & L2. ( It's going out this year. Don't know what to do. ) I also get chronic Lymphedema with mixed Dercum's Disease. Any ideas? Have you ever managed a compression pump at night or cold therapy? I have about 8 pillows. I was looking at the giant donut shaped pregnancy pillows. Any of these things ever help? What might help?
    I'm also directing my adult daughter to your vlog. She is crazy into body building. She has no coach. She had been very frail while I was away in intensive care, & then the hospital back in 2013. She was 87 pounds and 5'5". She is now 5'7" and about 131 pounds. She was afraid of getting big like me and we had little support. She has an Asian build, and hypermobility. Please direct us where to find out more. Mahalo from Hilo. Take care, Kai

  20. WHOEVER INSTALLED YOUR CABINET DOOR CROOKED, YOU NEED TO TELL HIM TO STRAIGHTEN IT. WITH ALL THOSE PILOWS YOU NEED TO SLEEP PROPERLY, IT WILL TAKE A LONG TIME TO GET TO SLEEP.

  21. When I lay on my back the top of my right thigh is numb. When I turn on the side numbness goes away. Should I seek professional help?😀

  22. With all those pillows, I hope Liz doesn't have to get up and go to the bathroom in the middle of the night! Haha!

  23. what about your arms….what is the best position put your arms when you sleep on your back to relieve any stress…I have messaged on FB also…thanks

  24. Somebody ripped off the Memory Foam wedge by making it black and calling it “The Love Wedge.” This always makes it hard for me to take the wedge seriously though I know it does good things. I guess some people would just rather use it to make sure they DON’T sleep.

    Sorry for the mildly inappropriate comment B and B but I couldn’t help myself. I just calls em like I sees em.

  25. Hello if i can do one exerciese without feeling with pain that i used to do such left my legs when i kick to heigh level have i to do it to keep my flexability or i have to stop i have henriated disc with no critical symptoms

  26. When did sleeping become so damn complicated? With all those wedges, pillows, contour pillows, sheets, more pillows and MacKenzies!!!

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