A properly fitted mattress is essential for quality sleep and proper alignment, but spinal health can suffer without the right pillow to match. An ill-fitting pillow can cause misalignment of your neck relative to the rest of your spine, which may cause health problems down the road. If you’re willing to invest in a high-quality mattress for the sake of your health, don’t underestimate the importance of your pillow.
Have you ever heard of a wry neck or torticollis? This painful condition is a result of your neck muscles going into spasm from too much tension and strain. It causes pain, stiffness, and a limited range of motion. If your pillow has not been properly fitted to your body type and sleeping style, you there is a good chance that you will experience this type of pain!
Imagine sections of your body stacked like building blocks, one on top of the other. For everything inside to work the way it should, the blocks need to properly align with one another. In other words, poor posture may lead to a poorly functioning spine which may then negatively impact the functioning of your nervous system. Your nerves supply our organs and tissues, so these may also be affected. Maintaining a strong core is critical for balancing your body, as is sleeping on a surface that relieves undue pressure from your spine. Remember, your postural muscles are at work 24/7, and your mattress is key for facilitating their well-being.
Think of your pillow as an extension of your mattress. Sleeping on multiple pillows, or on a pillow that’s too thick, can cause the head to flex forward. The result is forward-head posture (FHP), a muscular imbalance between the head and the neck. Sometimes referred to as “Scholar’s Neck,” or military neck. FHP is particularly common for those who work desk jobs.
Like all postural problems, FHP may cause a chain of negative health effects. Your head weighs about as much as a bowling ball, and it’s up to your neck to support all that weight. Take that bowling ball a small degree out of alignment, and your neck muscles have to work much harder to compensate. Depending on the severity of FHP, the head may move significantly out of alignment! Over time, the resulting strain can lead to chronic back and neck pain, headaches, jaw problems, and even numbness in the arms and hands.
What’s the best way to find your perfect mattress and pillow? For one thing, if you walk into a store and a salesperson assures you that their mattress is a universal perfect fit, you can safely walk out the way you came. Fitting a mattress and pillow properly requires a thorough understanding of your body type, sleeping style, and any special health concerns.
You spend one-third of your life on your feet, so naturally your footwear, including orthotics, is important to you. You spend another third of your life at your workplace. Ideally, your workplace provides you with the support and comfort you need to perform optimally. You also spend a third of your life asleep, so it makes good sense to make sure your mattress and pillow afford restful, quality sleep that supports the health of your spine!
About the Author:
Dr. Andrew Arnold is a Chiropractor and the Million Dollar Wellness Mentor.
Founder: The Practice Leverage Revolution, Cranbourne Family Chiropractic and Wellness Centre and the Million Dollar Wellness Practice.
Andrew is married to Dr. Linda Wilson, the Stress Specialist and has two children, Isaac and Bella. He lives in Melbourne, Australia.