24 May 2024
5 expert tips to relieve shoulder pain for side sleepers. Say goodbye to tossing and turning and wake up pain-free. Dive in now!

If you’re a side sleeper who constantly wakes up with shoulder pain, you’re not alone. Whether it’s a dull ache or a sharp twinge, shoulder discomfort can disrupt your sleep and affect your daily activities. But fret not, because we’ve got you covered. In this article, we’ll share five expert tips that will help relieve your shoulder pain and ensure a restful night’s sleep, allowing you to wake up refreshed and ready to take on the day. Say goodbye to tossing and turning, and hello to pain-free nights as a side sleeper. Let’s dive in!

5 Tips for Relieving Shoulder Pain for Side Sleepers

Table of Contents

Choosing the Right Mattress

Consider a Firmer Mattress

When it comes to choosing the right mattress for relieving shoulder pain, consider opting for a firmer mattress. A firm mattress provides better support and helps to distribute your body weight more evenly, reducing the pressure on your shoulders. This can help alleviate any discomfort or pain you may experience while sleeping.

Opt for a Pillow Top Mattress

Another option to consider is a pillow top mattress. This type of mattress combines the benefits of a firm support system with an added layer of plush cushioning on top. The extra padding in a pillow top mattress can provide additional comfort and support for your shoulders, helping to alleviate any pain or discomfort you may be experiencing.

Look for Pressure Relief

When searching for the right mattress, it’s important to look for one that offers pressure relief. Pressure points can contribute to shoulder pain, so finding a mattress that can relieve pressure and provide adequate support is key. Look for mattresses that have specific features designed to alleviate pressure, such as targeted support zones or advanced materials that conform to your body’s contours.

Consider Memory Foam

Memory foam mattresses are renowned for their ability to relieve pressure points and provide excellent support. The unique properties of memory foam allow it to conform to your body’s shape, providing customized support where you need it most. This can be particularly beneficial for shoulder pain, as the memory foam contours to your shoulders and helps distribute your body weight evenly.

Try Different Mattress Types

Everyone’s body is unique, so it’s important to try out different mattress types to find the one that works best for you. From traditional innerspring mattresses to latex mattresses and hybrid options, there is a wide range of mattress types available on the market. By trying out different mattress types, you can determine which one provides the best comfort and support for your shoulders while you sleep.

Selecting the Right Pillow

Use a Contoured Pillow

For side sleepers experiencing shoulder pain, using a contoured pillow can make a significant difference in their sleep quality. Contoured pillows are specifically designed to support the natural curves of your body, including your head, neck, and shoulders. By cradling your head and providing support to your shoulders, a contoured pillow can help alleviate discomfort and promote better alignment while you sleep.

Try a Memory Foam Pillow

Memory foam pillows can also be a great option for side sleepers with shoulder pain. These pillows conform to the shape of your head and neck, providing personalized support and relieving pressure points. Additionally, memory foam pillows are known for their ability to retain their shape, meaning they will continue to provide the necessary support throughout the night, ensuring you wake up feeling refreshed and pain-free.

Consider a Body Pillow

If you find that your shoulder pain is exacerbated by your sleeping position, consider using a body pillow. Body pillows can be positioned in various ways to provide support and alignment for your entire body. By placing the body pillow between your legs or hugging it with your arms, you can help reduce the strain on your shoulders and promote a more comfortable sleeping position.

Use a Feather or Down Pillow

Feather or down pillows are known for their soft and luxurious feel. While they may not provide as much support as other types of pillows, they can still be a suitable option for side sleepers with shoulder pain. These pillows allow for easy adjustment and can be fluffed or molded to provide adequate support where needed. Experiment with different pillow heights and densities to find the optimal level of comfort for your shoulders.

Experimenting with Different Pillow Heights

The height of your pillow can greatly impact the alignment of your shoulders and neck. For side sleepers, it’s important to use a pillow that keeps your head and neck in a neutral position without tilting or straining your shoulders. Experiment with different pillow heights to find the one that allows for proper alignment and comfort. Some individuals find that using a thicker pillow that fills the space between their shoulder and neck provides the necessary support, while others may prefer a thinner pillow that allows for a more natural alignment.

5 Tips for Relieving Shoulder Pain for Side Sleepers

Improving Sleep Position

Sleep on your Back

For side sleepers experiencing shoulder pain, it may be beneficial to try sleeping on your back occasionally. By sleeping on your back, you can help alleviate the pressure on your shoulders and distribute your body weight more evenly. Use a pillow under your knees to help maintain the natural curve of your spine and reduce strain on your shoulders. Practice proper pillow placement to ensure your head and neck are properly supported.

Use a Pillow Between your Legs

Another technique to improve sleep position and alleviate shoulder pain is to place a pillow between your legs. This can help keep your spine aligned and prevent your top shoulder from collapsing, which can often occur when side sleeping. By keeping your body in better alignment, you reduce the strain on your shoulders and promote better sleep quality.

Prop your Arm with a Pillow

If you prefer sleeping on your side but experience discomfort in your shoulder, try propping your arm with a pillow. By placing a pillow underneath your top arm, you can help take the strain off your shoulder and maintain a more natural sleeping position. This can help alleviate any pain or discomfort you may experience as a side sleeper.

Support your Head with a Pillow

Proper head and neck support is crucial for side sleepers with shoulder pain. Using a pillow that provides adequate support for your head and neck can help maintain proper alignment and alleviate any strain on your shoulders. It’s important to find a pillow that keeps your head in a neutral position without causing it to tilt or strain your shoulders.

Experiment with Different Sleeping Positions

As with any sleep issue, it’s essential to experiment with different sleeping positions to find the one that works best for you. While side sleeping is a common preference, it may not be suitable for everyone, especially if you are experiencing shoulder pain. Try different positions, such as sleeping on your back or stomach, and pay attention to how your shoulders feel in each position. Finding the right sleeping position can significantly reduce discomfort and promote better sleep quality.

Adjusting Pillow Height

Find the Right Thickness

When it comes to pillow height, finding the right thickness is crucial. The height of your pillow should allow your neck to remain in a neutral position, not tilting up or down. Experiment with different pillow thicknesses to find the one that provides optimal support for your head, neck, and shoulders.

Use a Thicker Pillow

If you find that you need more support for your neck and shoulders, consider using a thicker pillow. Thicker pillows can help fill the space between your shoulder and neck, providing the necessary support and alignment. However, it’s important to ensure that the thickness of the pillow does not cause your head to tilt or strain your shoulders.

Try a Thinner Pillow

On the other hand, if you prefer a more minimalistic approach or find that a thicker pillow causes discomfort, try using a thinner pillow. A thinner pillow can provide adequate support without elevating your head too much, helping to maintain a neutral alignment for your neck and shoulders. Experiment with different pillow thicknesses to find the one that works best for you.

Use Multiple Pillows

Sometimes, using multiple pillows can be beneficial for adjusting pillow height and finding the right level of support. For side sleepers with shoulder pain, using one pillow for your head and a second pillow for your shoulders can help maintain proper alignment and alleviate any discomfort. This arrangement allows for the elevation of your shoulders while ensuring your head and neck remain in a neutral position.

Use Pillows to Support your Arm

If you find that your shoulder pain persists, try using pillows to support your arm while you sleep. Placing a pillow under your arm can help reduce the strain on your shoulder and promote a more comfortable sleeping position. Experiment with different positions and pillow placements to find what works best for you.

5 Tips for Relieving Shoulder Pain for Side Sleepers

Using Heat or Cold Therapy

Apply a Heating Pad

Heat therapy can be an effective method to relieve shoulder pain. Applying a heating pad to your affected shoulder can help relax the muscles, improve blood flow, and reduce any inflammation. Ensure you use a towel or cloth as a barrier between your skin and the heating pad to prevent burns. Leave the heating pad on your shoulder for 15 to 20 minutes at a time and repeat as necessary.

Take a Warm Shower

Taking a warm shower can also provide temporary relief for shoulder pain. The warm water helps relax the muscles and promotes circulation, which can alleviate discomfort. Allow the warm water to run over your shoulder for several minutes, gently massaging the area while maintaining a comfortable temperature.

Use a Hot Towel

For a quick and simple heat therapy option, use a hot towel. Soak a towel in hot water, wring out the excess moisture, and apply it to your shoulder. The heat from the towel can help increase blood flow, reduce muscle tension, and provide temporary relief from shoulder pain.

Ice or Cold Pack

In some cases, cold therapy may be more effective in reducing shoulder pain. Applying an ice pack or a cold pack to your shoulder can help numb the area, reduce swelling, and minimize inflammation. Wrap the ice or cold pack in a thin cloth and apply it to your shoulder for about 15 minutes at a time. Ensure you do not apply ice directly to your skin to avoid frostbite.

Experiment with Different Heat and Cold Therapies

Everyone’s body responds differently to heat and cold therapy, so it’s essential to experiment with different methods to find what works best for you. Some individuals may find relief with heat therapy, while others prefer cold therapy. Alternatively, you may benefit from alternating between heat and cold applications. Listen to your body and adjust your heat and cold therapies accordingly.

Stretching and Strengthening Exercises

Shoulder Rolls

Shoulder rolls are a simple and effective exercise for relieving tension and improving shoulder mobility. Start by standing or sitting up straight with your arms hanging by your sides. Slowly roll your shoulders forward in a circular motion, making sure to keep the movement controlled and relaxed. Repeat this exercise for 10 to 15 repetitions, and then reverse the direction and roll your shoulders backward.

Cross-Body Arm Stretch

The cross-body arm stretch targets the muscles in the back of your shoulder and can help alleviate tightness and improve flexibility. Begin by standing or sitting up straight. Take one arm and bring it across your body, placing your opposite hand on your upper arm. Gently pull your arm toward your body, feeling a stretch in your shoulder. Hold this position for 15 to 30 seconds and then switch arms.

Wall Push-Ups

Wall push-ups are a modified version of traditional push-ups that can help strengthen the muscles in your shoulders, chest, and arms. Stand facing a wall, about arm’s length away. Place your hands on the wall at shoulder height, slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Keeping your body straight, slowly lower your chest towards the wall by bending your arms. Push yourself back to the starting position. Repeat this exercise for 10 to 15 repetitions.

Shoulder Blade Squeeze

The shoulder blade squeeze exercise targets the muscles in your upper back, promoting proper posture and relieving tension in your shoulders. Begin by standing or sitting up straight with your arms by your sides. Squeeze your shoulder blades together, as if you are trying to touch them. Hold this position for 5 to 10 seconds, then release. Repeat this exercise for 10 to 15 repetitions.

Shoulder External Rotation

Shoulder external rotation exercises are effective for strengthening the rotator cuff muscles, which can help stabilize your shoulder joint and reduce pain. Start by holding a resistance band or a light dumbbell in one hand. Bend your elbow at a 90-degree angle and keep it close to your side. Slowly rotate your forearm outward, away from your body, and then bring it back to the starting position. Repeat this exercise for 10 to 15 repetitions on each arm.

Avoiding Overexertion

Be Gentle with your Shoulder

When experiencing shoulder pain, it’s crucial to be mindful and gentle with your shoulder. Avoid any sudden or jerky movements that could aggravate the pain or cause further injury. Opt for controlled and smooth movements, especially when lifting or carrying objects. Being mindful of your shoulder’s limitations can help prevent overexertion and promote a faster recovery.

Take Breaks from Repetitive Movements

If your shoulder pain is caused by repetitive movements, such as typing or lifting heavy objects, it’s important to take regular breaks. Prolonged repetitive movements can put excessive strain on your shoulder and lead to pain or injury. Schedule short breaks throughout your day to rest and stretch your shoulder muscles, giving them time to recover.

Avoid Lifting Heavy Objects

Lifting heavy objects can put a significant amount of strain on your shoulders, especially if done incorrectly or without proper support. If you are experiencing shoulder pain, it’s best to avoid lifting heavy objects whenever possible. If lifting is necessary, remember to use proper lifting techniques, such as lifting with your legs instead of your back and keeping the object close to your body to reduce strain on your shoulders.

Practice Good Posture

Maintaining good posture can help alleviate shoulder pain and prevent further strain on your shoulders. Be conscious of your posture throughout the day, ensuring that your shoulders are relaxed and rolled back. Avoid slouching or hunching, as this can contribute to poor posture and increased discomfort. Practice sitting and standing up straight, keeping your shoulders aligned with your ears.

Listen to your Body

One of the most important aspects of avoiding overexertion and managing shoulder pain is listening to your body. Pay attention to any warning signs or discomfort, and adjust your activities accordingly. If a particular movement or activity is causing increased pain or discomfort, it’s essential to take a break or modify the movement. Everyone’s pain threshold and limitations are different, so it’s crucial to prioritize your body’s signals and avoid pushing beyond your limits.

Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle

Maintain a Healthy Weight

Maintaining a healthy weight is important for overall health and can also help alleviate shoulder pain. Excess weight can put additional strain on your shoulders and joints, increasing the likelihood of pain and discomfort. Aim to maintain a healthy weight through a balanced diet and regular exercise, as this can help ease pressure on your shoulders and promote better mobility.

Eat a Balanced Diet

A balanced diet is crucial for overall health and can also contribute to managing shoulder pain. Ensure you are consuming a variety of nutrient-dense foods, including fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and healthy fats. Adequate nutrition can support the healing process and provide the necessary nutrients for optimal shoulder health.

Stay Hydrated

Hydration plays a vital role in maintaining joint health and reducing inflammation. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to ensure your body stays properly hydrated. Hydration can help lubricate your joints and contribute to the overall health of your shoulders.

Get Regular Exercise

Regular exercise is essential for maintaining healthy muscles and joints, including the shoulders. Engaging in activities that promote strength, flexibility, and mobility can help alleviate shoulder pain and prevent future discomfort. Consult with a medical professional or physical therapist to develop an exercise routine that is suitable for your specific needs and limitations.

Manage Stress Levels

Stress can exacerbate muscle tension and contribute to shoulder pain. Finding healthy ways to manage stress can be beneficial for overall well-being and shoulder health. Engage in activities that help you relax and unwind, such as meditation, breathing exercises, yoga, or engaging in hobbies that bring you joy. Managing stress can help reduce muscle tension and alleviate shoulder pain associated with stress-related tension.

Using Supportive Devices

Consider a Shoulder Brace or Strap

Shoulder braces or straps can provide additional support and stability to your shoulder joint. These devices can be particularly beneficial for individuals experiencing shoulder pain due to instability or injury. Consult with a medical professional to determine if a shoulder brace or strap is appropriate for your specific condition and to ensure proper usage.

Use a Sleep Positioning Pillow

Sleep positioning pillows are specially designed to help promote proper alignment and support for your shoulders while you sleep. These pillows often have a contoured shape that cradles your head and neck while providing support to your shoulders. Experiment with different sleep positioning pillows to find the one that offers the best comfort and support for your shoulder pain.

Try a Specialized Mattress Topper

A specialized mattress topper can provide additional cushioning and support to your mattress, helping to alleviate shoulder pain. Consider a mattress topper made from memory foam or other pressure-relieving materials that conform to your body’s contours. This can help distribute your body weight more evenly and reduce pressure on your shoulders while you sleep.

Experiment with Different Supportive Devices

Everyone’s body and shoulder pain are unique, so it’s important to experiment with different supportive devices to find what works best for you. From shoulder wraps and compression sleeves to posture correctors, there are various supportive devices available on the market. Discuss your options with a medical professional to determine which devices may be most suitable for your specific needs.

Consult a Medical Professional

If you are experiencing persistent shoulder pain or if your pain is significantly impacting your quality of life, it’s important to consult a medical professional. A doctor or physical therapist can assess your condition, provide a proper diagnosis, and recommend appropriate treatment options. They can also offer guidance on selecting the right supportive devices and provide personalized advice based on your specific needs.

Seeking Professional Treatment

Consult a Doctor or Physical Therapist

If home remedies and lifestyle changes do not effectively alleviate your shoulder pain, it’s recommended to consult a doctor or physical therapist. These professionals can assess your condition, provide a comprehensive evaluation, and develop a customized treatment plan to address your shoulder pain. They may recommend additional exercises, manual therapy techniques, or further medical interventions as necessary.

Consider Massage Therapy

Massage therapy can be beneficial for relieving shoulder pain by reducing muscle tension, promoting relaxation, and improving blood flow. A licensed massage therapist can target specific muscle groups in your shoulders and use various techniques to alleviate pain and discomfort. Regular massage therapy sessions can be a valuable component of your overall shoulder pain management plan.

Explore Chiropractic Care

Chiropractic care focuses on the alignment of the spine and musculoskeletal system, which can be beneficial for individuals experiencing shoulder pain. A chiropractor can assess your condition, perform adjustments, and provide recommendations for exercises and stretches to help alleviate shoulder pain. Chiropractic care can often complement other treatment modalities for shoulder pain management.

Try Acupuncture or Acupressure

Acupuncture and acupressure are alternative therapies that can be effective for managing shoulder pain. These practices involve stimulating specific points on the body to promote healing and relieve pain. Acupuncture involves the insertion of thin needles into specific points, while acupressure utilizes pressure applied by the hands or specific tools. Consult with a trained practitioner to determine if these therapies are suitable for your shoulder pain.

Discuss Medications or Injections

In some cases, medications or injections may be necessary to manage severe or chronic shoulder pain. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help reduce inflammation, while corticosteroids injected directly into the shoulder joint can provide localized pain relief. Consult with a medical professional to discuss the benefits and potential risks associated with these treatment options and determine the most appropriate course of action for your shoulder pain.

In conclusion, choosing the right mattress and pillow, improving sleep position, adjusting pillow height, using heat or cold therapy, incorporating stretching and strengthening exercises, avoiding overexertion, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, using supportive devices, and seeking professional treatment are all valuable strategies for relieving shoulder pain. Every individual’s shoulder pain is unique, so it’s important to experiment and find the combination of techniques that work best for you. Remember to consult with a medical professional or a physical therapist if your shoulder pain persists or significantly affects your quality of life. By taking care of your shoulders and prioritizing their health, you can experience improved sleep, reduced discomfort, and enhanced overall well-being.

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