Updated: Jan 15
After sleeping, many people wake up with back pain. In some cases, performing stretches or specific exercises will alleviate the problem. However, in other instances, the pain caused by back strain can lead to more severe complications requiring medical attention to avoid additional injury or long-term problems. It’s essential to understand why your back hurts after sleeping before taking action. Working with a chiropractor at a back clinic may shed some light on the reason for back pain.
Here are common reasons why someone may experience back pain upon waking up.
Unsupportive Sleep Position - Sleeping on your stomach doesn’t allow your spine to maintain its natural curvature. If you sleep on your back with a pillow under your lower back or between your legs, it can compress or strain critical nerves and discs in your back. If you sleep on one side with pillows behind you, there is little support for any part of your spine. A good night’s rest requires healthy alignment from head to toe. Improper alignment during sleep disturbs spinal function and contributes to chronic conditions such as lower back pain, neck pain, headaches, and more.
Bad Mattress - If you suffer back pain after sleeping, your mattress could be to blame. If your bed is an old box spring and you have a lumpy mattress, it might be time for a new one with a soft, supportive surface and proper support under your hips and shoulders. Pillows and blankets may also contribute to back pain after sleeping, so consider getting rid of them or storing them in another room when you hit the hay.
Degenerative Disc Disease - When people over 50 complain of back pain after sleeping, degenerative disc disease is often to blame. Degenerative disc disease occurs when an intervertebral disc loses water content over time, causing it to shrink and begin to break down. Stress on nearby spinal structures can cause additional damage when an intervertebral disc degenerates. This extra strain on your spine causes sharp pain in your lower back after sleep—even though you haven’t done anything strenuous!
Fibromyalgia - There’s no single known cause of fibromyalgia. A combination of genetic, environmental, and psychological factors may cause it. The pain is widespread throughout your entire body, often in your back, shoulders, arms, hips, and legs. Since there appears to be no cure for fibromyalgia, the treatment is focused on symptom management to allow you to work with as little pain as possible.
Treatment for Morning Back Pain Relief - Many treatments for the relief of acute morning back pain are available. Stretching exercises and massage therapy are particularly effective in relieving minor back pain after sleeping. Lying down on a firm mattress that supports your spine is also helpful. However, if you are still experiencing severe back pain, it may be time to consult a physician about diagnosis and treatment options for your acute morning back pain.
Change the mattress and sleeping position - If you wake up with a sore back, you may have an old mattress that no longer supports your body. Consider buying a new bed, or at least get a mattress topper for added support. For example, your mattress may be too firm. Consider buying a new bed or getting a mattress topper for added support. You may need a pillow between your knees when sleeping on your side, which can provide more lower-back support.
Do some morning stretches on the bed - It’s not just how you sleep that can cause your back to hurt; it’s also how you wake up. Starting stretching in bed can get your body moving and more active, help you feel less stiff and give your muscles a chance to warm up and loosen up before rising from bed for that first cup of coffee.
Exercise every day - It’s critical to exercise every day. No, you don’t have to be hardcore—but any amount of exercise is better than none. If you keep your muscles active, they won’t weaken and eventually become injured. Plus, regular workouts will help you stay fit, relieve stress, and help improve your mood. Want to sleep pain-free at night? A routine of exercises—like walking or running—will strengthen your lower back muscles and reduce tightness in that area.
A consult with Parkway Back and Foot Clinic to discuss why your back pains after sleeping may offer more insight into more ways to heal any pain after sleeping.