Repetitive Strain Injury From Sleeping

Written by Dr. Steve Chaney on . Posted in Exercise, Healthy Lifestyle, Healthy Living, Muscle Therapy and Health, Stress Management

Get Off To A Great Start Every Morning

Author: Julie Donnelly, LMT – The Pain Relief Expert

Editor: Dr. Steve Chaney

How Can Sleep Cause Repetitive Strain Injury?

repetitive strain injury causesFor most of us during sleep we stay in one position for hours at a time.  So if you wake up with back pain after sleeping, you are experiencing the side effects of muscles held in one position for hours.  This is an example of repetitive strain injury or repetitive stress injury.

Because the muscles have to contract to pull your body into your favorite sleeping position and then the muscles stay in a shortened position for hours this can cause pain and tension in your back.

When you wake up with back pain after sleeping you may think you need a new mattress.  You might, but it’s definitely worthwhile to address the tight muscles first as they may be the whole problem.

stretchingHave you ever seen a dog do their “downward dog” stretch after a nap?  Before the dog bounces back into the world it takes time to awaken its body.  This is your pain relief “role-model” for stretching your back after sleeping.  You’ll be amazed at how simply moving in bed before starting your day eliminates pain and tension.

Let’s get started!  While still in bed begin moving around; raise your arms over head and stretch your legs out and flex your feet.  Maybe roll to each side stretching the sides of your body.  Try these 3 stretches we recommend

Repetitive Strain Injury Treatment:  3 Stretches After Sleeping

The following stretches will help relieve symptoms of repetitive strain injury due to sleeping in one position for long periods.

When you are ready bring yourself to a seated position (still in bed!).

 

stretches for back painOne at a time, bring your arm across the front of your body.  Pull your shoulder and shoulder blade toward the front, but without moving the rest of your trunk.  This is a great stretch for your triceps, shoulders and upper back.

repetitive strain injury treatmentNext stretch!  Bring your feet together, as pictured here.Start with a straight spine then slowly roll your chin into your chest, rounding your back.  Mmmmm…this feels good!

repetitive stress injury treatmentAnd finally, try this juicy spinal twist.Sit with left leg straight out or you can bend it as pictured.  Cross the right foot over the left leg, press your right hand behind you, place your left elbow on your right knee now twist.  Stretch as far as you are comfortable.  Try holding it 15-20 seconds.

This stretch will even help to loosen your hips if you sit as pictured!

As with all stretches, start out easy – stretching should feel GOOD.  You’ll feel the tension ease as the blood starts flowing.The tight muscles that cause back pain after sleeping can hamper your entire day, but doing these simple stretches will make a world of difference!

Wishing you well,

Julie Donnelly

julie donnellyAbout The AuthorJulie Donnelly is a Deep Muscle Massage Therapist with 20 years of experience specializing in the treatment of chronic joint pain and sports injuries. She has worked extensively with elite athletes and patients who have been unsuccessful at finding relief through the more conventional therapies.

She has been widely published, both on – and off – line, in magazines, newsletters, and newspapers around the country. She is also often chosen to speak at national conventions, medical schools, and health facilities nationwide.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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One of the Little known Causes of Headaches

Posted August 15, 2017 by Dr. Steve Chaney

Your Sleeping Position May Be Causing Your Headaches!

Author: Julie Donnelly, LMT – The Pain Relief Expert

Editor: Dr. Steve Chaney

 

Can sleeping position be one of the causes of headaches?  

A Sleeping position that has your head tilted puts pressure on your spinal cord and will cause headaches. I’ve seen it happen hundreds of times, and the reasoning is so logical it’s easy to understand.

causes of headachesYour spinal cord runs from your brain, through each of your vertebrae, down your arms and legs. Nerves pass out of the vertebrae and go to every cell in your body, including each of your organs. When you are sleeping it is important to keep your head, neck, and spine in a horizontal plane so you aren’t straining the muscles that insert into your vertebrae.

The graphic above is a close-up of your skull and the cervical (neck) vertebrae. Your nerves are shown in yellow, and your artery is shown in red.  Consider what happens if you hold your head to one side for hours. You can notice that the nerves and artery will likely be press upon. Also, since your spinal cord comes down the inside of the vertebrae, it will also be impinged.

In 2004 the Archives of Internal Medicine published an article stating that 1 out of 13 people have morning headaches. It’s interesting to note that the article never mentions the spinal cord being impinged by the vertebrae. That’s a major oversight!

Muscles merge into tendons, and the tendons insert into the bone.  As you stayed in the tilted position for hours, the muscles actually shortened to the new length.  Then you try to turn over, but the short muscles are holding your cervical vertebrae tightly, and they can’t lengthen.

The weight of your head pulls on the vertebrae, putting even more pressure on your spinal cord and nerves.  Plus, the tight muscles are pulling on the bones, causing pain on the bone.

Your Pillow is Involved in Your Sleeping Position and the Causes of  Headaches

sleep left side

The analogy I always use is; just as pulling your hair hurts your scalp, the muscle pulling on the tendons hurts the bone where it inserts.  In this case it is your neck muscles putting a strain on your cervical bones.  For example, if you sleep on your left side and your pillow is too thick, your head will be tilted up toward the ceiling. This position tightens the muscles on the right side of your neck.

sleeping in car and desk

Dozing off while sitting in a car waiting for someone to arrive, or while working for hours at your desk can also horizontal line sleepcause headaches. The pictures above show a strain on the neck when you fall asleep without any support on your neck. Both of these people will wake up with a headache, and with stiffness in their neck.

The best sleeping position to prevent headaches is to have your pillow adjusted so your head, neck, and spine are in a horizontal line. Play with your pillows, putting two thin pillows into one case if necessary. If your pillow is too thick try to open up a corner and pull out some of the stuffing.

 

sleeping on stomachSleeping on Your Back & Stomach

If you sleep on your back and have your head on the mattress, your spine is straight. All you need is a little neck pillow for support, and a pillow under your knees.

Stomach sleeping is the worst sleeping position for not only headaches, but so many other aches and pains. It’s a tough habit to break, but it can be done. This sleeping position deserves its own blog, which I will do in the future.

 

Treating the Muscles That Cause Headaches

sleeping position causes of headachesAll of the muscles that originate or insert into your cervical vertebrae, and many that insert into your shoulder and upper back, need to be treated.  The treatments are all taught in Treat Yourself to Pain Free Living, in the neck and shoulder chapters.  Here is one treatment that will help you get relief.

Take either a tennis ball or the Perfect Ball (which really is Perfect because it has a solid center and soft outside) and press into your shoulder as shown.  You are treating a muscle called Levator Scapulae which pulls your cervical vertebrae out of alignment when it is tight.

Hold the press for about 30 seconds, release, and then press again.

Your pillow is a key to neck pain and headaches caused by your sleeping position.  It’s worth the time and energy to investigate how you sleep and correct your pillow.  I believe this blog will help you find the solution and will insure you have restful sleep each night.

Wishing you well,

Julie Donnelly

 

About The Author

julie donnelly

Julie Donnelly is a Deep Muscle Massage Therapist with 20 years of experience specializing in the treatment of chronic joint pain and sports injuries. She has worked extensively with elite athletes and patients who have been unsuccessful at finding relief through the more conventional therapies.

She has been widely published, both on – and off – line, in magazines, newsletters, and newspapers around the country. She is also often chosen to speak at national conventions, medical schools, and health facilities nationwide.

These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

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