20 July 2024
Learn effective techniques for relieving sore shoulder after sleeping on your side. Wake up refreshed and pain-free with simple remedies.

Have you ever woken up with a sore shoulder after sleeping on your side? If you have, you know how uncomfortable and frustrating it can be. The good news is that there are simple ways to relieve that pain and get back to feeling your best. In this article, we will explore some effective techniques for alleviating shoulder soreness, so you can wake up refreshed and ready to take on the day.

How to Relieve Sore Shoulder After Sleeping on Your Side

Causes of Sore Shoulder After Sleeping on Your Side

Sleeping Position

One of the primary causes of a sore shoulder after sleeping on your side is your sleeping position. When you sleep on your side, it puts pressure on your shoulder joint, leading to discomfort and pain. The weight of your body can also cause your shoulder to become compressed, leading to soreness.

Pressure Points

Another factor that may contribute to a sore shoulder is the presence of pressure points. These are areas where the bone is in direct contact with the mattress or pillow, causing increased pressure on certain parts of the shoulder. Over time, this pressure can lead to inflammation and pain.

Muscle Tension

Muscle tension can also play a role in causing a sore shoulder after sleeping on your side. When you sleep in one position for an extended period, the muscles in your shoulder can become stiff and tight. This tension can result in pain and discomfort upon waking up.

Injury or Strain

Lastly, it’s important to consider the possibility of injury or strain as a cause of shoulder pain after sleeping on your side. If you have recently engaged in activities that put stress on your shoulder, such as lifting heavy objects or participating in sports, it is possible that you may have injured or strained your shoulder. Sleeping on your side can exacerbate these injuries and lead to pain.

Preventing Sore Shoulder After Sleeping on Your Side

Choosing the Right Pillow

Selecting the appropriate pillow can make a significant difference in preventing a sore shoulder after sleeping on your side. Look for a pillow that provides adequate support for your neck and shoulder. Memory foam pillows or contour pillows are often recommended as they conform to the shape of your body and alleviate pressure points.

Adjusting Your Sleeping Position

If you can’t resist sleeping on your side, consider switching sides regularly throughout the night. This can help distribute the pressure more evenly and reduce the strain on a single shoulder. You may also try sleeping with a small pillow or rolled-up towel between your knees. This can help align your spine and relieve pressure on your shoulders.

Use of Additional Support

Using additional support, such as a body pillow, can provide extra cushioning and help maintain proper alignment of your shoulders while you sleep. Place the body pillow against your back and hug it, allowing your shoulder to rest comfortably on the mattress. This not only supports your shoulder but also helps in maintaining a neutral spine position.

Stretching Before Bed

Incorporating a simple stretching routine before bed can help relax and lengthen the muscles in your shoulder. Gentle stretches, such as arm circles and shoulder rolls, can improve flexibility and reduce muscle tension. Make sure to perform these stretches slowly and without any pain. Consult with a healthcare professional for specific stretching exercises that suit your needs.

Home Remedies for Relieving Sore Shoulder

Applying Heat

Applying heat to the sore shoulder can help alleviate pain and relax the muscles. You can use a hot water bottle, heating pad, or warm towel. Place the heat source on your shoulder for about 15-20 minutes at a time. Avoid using excessive heat and ensure that you use a barrier like a cloth to protect your skin from direct contact.

Cold Therapy

Cold therapy is another effective home remedy for relieving sore shoulders. Applying ice packs or a bag of frozen vegetables wrapped in a thin cloth can help reduce inflammation and numb the area. Apply the cold pack for about 15-20 minutes at a time, several times a day. It’s essential to give your skin breaks between applications to prevent damage.

Over-the-Counter Pain Relievers

Over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, can provide temporary relief for mild to moderate shoulder pain. Make sure to follow the instructions on the packaging and consult with a pharmacist if you have any underlying health conditions or are taking other medications.

Gentle Shoulder Exercises

Performing gentle shoulder exercises can help reduce stiffness, increase blood flow, and improve mobility. Simple exercises like shoulder circles, pendulum swings, and shoulder blade squeezes can be beneficial. Start with slow and controlled movements, and stop immediately if you experience pain or discomfort. Consult with a physical therapist for personalized exercise recommendations.

Alternative Therapies for Shoulder Pain Relief


Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese therapy that involves the insertion of thin needles into specific points in the body to promote healing and pain relief. It is believed to help restore the body’s balance and stimulate the release of natural pain-relieving chemicals. Consult with a licensed acupuncturist to determine if this therapy is suitable for your shoulder pain.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy can be highly effective for treating shoulder pain. A skilled physical therapist can assess your condition and develop a personalized treatment plan that includes targeted exercises, manual therapy, and other modalities. They can also provide education on correct posture, body mechanics, and strategies to prevent shoulder pain in the future.

Massage Therapy

Massage therapy can help reduce muscle tension and promote relaxation. A trained massage therapist can use various techniques to release tight knots and increase blood flow to the affected area. Regular sessions may help alleviate chronic shoulder pain and improve overall shoulder function. Consult with a licensed massage therapist experienced in treating shoulder pain.

Chiropractic Care

Chiropractic care focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal disorders, including shoulder pain. Chiropractors use manual manipulation techniques to realign the spine and joints, which can reduce pain and improve shoulder mobility. Consult with a qualified chiropractor to determine if this approach can provide relief for your sore shoulder.

When to Seek Medical Help

Persistent or Severe Pain

If you have persistent or severe shoulder pain that does not improve with self-care measures, it is important to seek medical help. This may indicate a more serious underlying condition that requires prompt attention and treatment.

Limited Range of Motion

If you experience difficulty moving your shoulder and notice a significant decrease in range of motion, it is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional. Limited range of motion can be a sign of a more significant issue, such as a rotator cuff injury or frozen shoulder, which may require specialized treatment.

Signs of Infection

If you develop signs of infection, such as increased redness, warmth, swelling, or discharge from your shoulder, it is crucial to seek medical help immediately. These symptoms could indicate an underlying infection that needs prompt medical intervention.

Traumatic Injury

If your shoulder pain resulted from a traumatic injury, such as a fall or direct blow to your shoulder, it is essential to seek immediate medical attention. Traumatic injuries can lead to fractures, dislocations, or other serious conditions that require proper medical evaluation and treatment.

Exercises to Strengthen Shoulder Muscles

Shoulder Rolls

Shoulder rolls are a simple yet effective exercise for strengthening the muscles in your shoulder. Stand or sit with your back straight. Gently roll your shoulders in a forward motion, making circles. Repeat 10-15 times and then reverse the direction, rolling your shoulders backward.

Wall Push-Ups

Wall push-ups are a modified version of traditional push-ups that target the shoulder muscles. Stand facing a wall, with your arms extended in front of you and your palms against the wall. Slowly bend your elbows and lower your body toward the wall, keeping your back straight. Push yourself back to the starting position and repeat 10-15 times.

Resistance Band Exercises

Resistance band exercises can help strengthen your shoulder muscles without putting excessive strain on them. Secure one end of the band to a stable object and hold the other end with your hand. Perform exercises like shoulder external rotations, shoulder extensions, or shoulder abduction, following proper form and gradually increasing resistance as tolerated.

Shoulder Blade Squeeze

The shoulder blade squeeze exercise targets the muscles that surround and support your shoulder blades. Sit or stand with your back straight and your arms relaxed at your sides. Squeeze your shoulder blades together, pulling them towards your spine. Hold this position for a few seconds, then release. Repeat 10-15 times.

Sleeping Strategies for Shoulder Pain Relief

Sleeping on Back

Sleeping on your back is often recommended as the best sleeping position for shoulder pain relief. It helps distribute your body weight evenly and reduces pressure on your shoulders. Use a supportive pillow that maintains the natural alignment of your neck and spine, to ensure proper support while sleeping on your back.

Pillow Between Knees

Placing a pillow between your knees can help align your spine and reduce stress on your shoulders while sleeping on your side. This pillow provides extra support and prevents your upper leg from pulling down on your lower shoulder. Choose a pillow that is firm enough to maintain its shape throughout the night.

Use of Body Pillow

A body pillow can provide excellent support and help alleviate shoulder pain. Hug the body pillow, positioning it against your back, and rest your upper arm on top of it. The body pillow serves as a barrier between your two shoulders, preventing excessive pressure on the lower shoulder. It also helps maintain proper spinal alignment.

Elevate Affected Arm

If you have a sore shoulder, propping it up with a pillow can help reduce swelling and alleviate discomfort. Use a firm pillow or rolled-up towel to elevate your arm slightly while lying down. This elevation helps reduce fluid accumulation and encourages proper circulation, promoting faster healing and pain relief.

Lifestyle Changes to Prevent Shoulder Pain

Maintain Good Posture

Maintaining good posture throughout the day is essential for preventing shoulder pain. Practice sitting and standing tall with your shoulders relaxed and squared. Keep your head aligned with your spine, and avoid slouching or rounding your shoulders forward. Incorporate regular posture checks into your daily routine to ensure proper alignment.

Avoid Excessive Lifting

Excessive lifting can strain your shoulder muscles and increase the risk of injury. When lifting objects, use proper lifting techniques, such as bending your knees and keeping your back straight. If the object is heavy, ask for assistance or use equipment like dollies and carts to avoid putting unnecessary strain on your shoulders.

Practice Relaxation Techniques

Stress and tension can contribute to shoulder pain. Incorporating relaxation techniques into your daily routine can help reduce stress levels and promote overall well-being. Try deep breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, or other relaxation techniques that work best for you. Relaxing your mind and body can indirectly relieve shoulder pain.

Manage Stress

Stress can manifest in physical symptoms, including shoulder pain. Finding healthy ways to manage stress can help prevent or alleviate shoulder pain. Engage in activities that promote relaxation and reduce stress, such as exercise, spending time outdoors, pursuing hobbies, or seeking support from friends, family, or a mental health professional.

Choosing the Right Pillow for Shoulder Pain Relief

Memory Foam Pillow

Memory foam pillows are designed to contour to the shape of your head, neck, and shoulders, providing optimal support and pressure relief. They help align your spine correctly, reducing strain on your shoulders. Look for pillows made from quality memory foam that offers adequate neck and shoulder support.

Contour Pillow

Contour pillows are specifically designed to support the natural curvature of your neck and upper shoulders. They have a depressed center with raised edges, promoting proper alignment. Contour pillows help relieve pressure points and maintain a neutral spine position while sleeping on your side.

Feather Pillow

Feather pillows can offer a customizable sleeping experience as you can adjust the pillow’s shape to suit your needs. They provide soft support and allow for easy adjustment throughout the night. Look for high-quality feather pillows that offer the right balance of support and comfort for your shoulders.

Water Pillow

Water pillows contain a water-filled chamber that adjusts to the shape of your head and neck. This adaptable support system helps alleviate pressure on your shoulders and promote proper alignment. Additionally, water pillows can be customized by adding or removing water to achieve the desired level of support.

When to Consider Changing Mattress

Mattress Age and Quality

If your mattress is old or of poor quality, it can contribute to shoulder pain. Over time, mattresses lose their ability to provide proper support and cushioning, leading to discomfort. If your mattress is over 8-10 years old or shows signs of wear and tear, consider investing in a new one that offers better support for your shoulders.

Mattress Firmness

The firmness of your mattress can significantly impact shoulder pain. A mattress that is too firm can create pressure points, while a mattress that is too soft can lead to poor spinal alignment. Opt for a medium-firm mattress that provides adequate support and cushioning, ensuring proper alignment of your shoulders and spine.

Mattress Type

Different mattress types offer varying levels of support and comfort for shoulder pain relief. Memory foam mattresses are known for their pressure-relieving properties, while hybrid mattresses combine the benefits of innerspring and foam. Latex mattresses offer a responsive and supportive surface. Consider your specific needs and preferences when choosing a mattress type.

Personal Comfort Preferences

Ultimately, personal comfort is crucial when selecting a mattress for shoulder pain relief. It’s essential to try out different mattresses and determine which one provides optimal support and comfort for your shoulders. Consider factors such as mattress materials, firmness level, and overall feel to find the perfect fit for your individual needs.

By understanding the causes of shoulder pain after sleeping on your side, taking preventive measures, and implementing home remedies or alternative therapies, you can effectively manage and relieve shoulder discomfort. Remember to seek medical help when necessary, incorporate strengthening exercises, adopt proper sleeping strategies, and make lifestyle changes to prevent future shoulder pain. Choosing the right pillow and mattress that suit your needs and preferences can also contribute to a restful night’s sleep and improved shoulder health. Take care of your shoulders, and you’ll wake up feeling refreshed and pain-free every morning.

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