Part 2 Pillows and Sleep Postures for Baby Boomers

By Dr. Lee Parimuha, DC

Part 2: Stomach Sleep Posture Positions

Simple do’s and don’ts may help you find a comfortable position while sleeping on your stomach. Do not sleep in this position if you have chronic pain syndromes or nerve pain. I originally used this stomach side lying position with good results for some of my patients that had low back pain or mild sciatic pain. If you have any of these symptoms please check with your doctor/therapist before trying these position suggestions.

    1) Whatever you do while sleeping on your stomach, do not rotate your neck on the pillow.


    (Read A)


    2) Maintain proper spinal alignment with the normal curves as imaged below. (Read B)


    3) Bend one knee as illustrated below.

So many of my patients when I ask what their favorite position was when they were young invariably say, sleeping on their stomach. As they grew older they stopped sleeping this way. While taking their medical/health history their favorite position wasn’t their favorite anymore. Their favorite position now only gave them neck pain or back pain or both.

Many of these patients could eventually return to their favorite sleep position after their back was adjusted. I helped their body regain a better balance and I taught them not to turn their neck on the pillow. This one factor, turning the neck, can’t be emphasized enough. Most pillows will not support the head and neck in this position because you can’t breathe without turning your neck on the pillow.

In the image below notice how the knee is bent and the torso is slightly on its side. Notice how the nose is over the breast bone and the ears are back over the shoulders. Now imagine you can see the spine. From the head to the low back the spine is in line. The spinal curves are normally positioned. See the neck has a forward curve, the upper back is curved backward and the low back curve is again curved toward the front.

Stomach Sleeper Posture Position

Stomach Sleeper Posture Position


    A) To keep the neck from rotating on the pillow choose a pillow that provides support at the proper height,(see image) so that the forehead and the cheekbone can rest comfortably so you can breathe.


    B) The ergonomic sleep position is where the nose is kept centered over the breast bone and the ears are kept back and in-line with the shoulders. The ergonomic sleep position positions the spine to muscles to relax. It may also help reduce the stress on the joints of the spine and other joints of the body.


    C) This ergonomic sleep position should be considered for all sleep postures and not just the stomach sleep posture.

An added benefit of the stomach sleep posture is the effect it has on the hip joints. The hip that is contacting the bed gets a slight stretch of the anterior hip compartment and psoas muscle. The hip with the bent knee stretches and lengthens the medial compartment of the thigh.

Now we are getting into the detail. Enough said for today. I hope you try this position and remember, this sleep posture is not for everyone.

PS: Place a small pillow under the ankle or bend the ankle over the end of the bed to reduce stress at the ankle. Not shown in the image above.

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