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Laying face down with lower back injury?

AnonymousUserAAnonymousUser Posts: 49,578
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:36 AM in Lower Back Pain
I have posted a topic about my "crooked torso" 3 days ago.. http://www.spine-health.com/forum/lower-back-pain/crooked-torso and I have read many times here to NOT lay on the stomach, as that stretches the spine in the opposite of its natural shape. I have just started laying on my stomach, because I was tired of laying on my back for 3 days, and need to use my laptop this way. This is the most comfortable for me, and gives me the most relief, and even enables me to walk around do things for 20 or so mins, before it flares back up. Usually I only get about 5-7 mins before flare ups. Now I see these people all agreeing that one shouldn't lay on ones back (not w/o a pillow under the waist) but it helps me to lay flat. Which way should I lay?


  • Sorry, for the second to last sentence I meant to say "people say not to lay on ones stomach"
  • I would say whatever makes you most comfortable and in less pain during and after laying down. I'm not a doctor so I don't know if laying on your stomach will cause any problems that you aren't aware of at the time. I do know that with my low back condition, I can not lay flat on my stomach unless I have a couple pillows under my stomach and my ankles and then at times I still can't unless I have one leg bent outward. I beleive this also has to do with the issues with my facet joints too though.
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  • I like both for variety. The lady who told you not to was due to her spondolysiosis or something like that. You sound like you have similar issues as me and my PHysical therapist have always had me lie on my stomach and do gradual McKenzie stretch/ extension up onto my forearms. That is what you are doing when you use the computer. At this point do what feels good-your body will tell u if it's not happy. I also like side fetal with pillow between knees. I will send u a private message and tell u more history.
  • I think that it varies by person and you should listen to your body (I never appreciated what that meant until I started having back issues). Over the years I became a stomach sleeper because being on my back would cause too much pain. After taking an Ambien and sleeping on my back for 8 hours, I woke up unable to walk and in the most unbearable pain I've ever felt. Apparently with my spondylolithesis (that I have since had fused) at L5-S1, sleeping on my back was putting too much pressure on the disk, in essense it was pinching it. People would tsk at me and tell me to sleep on my back if my back was hurting, little did they know... There are some great knee pillows/supports that are out there. I don't know what I'd do without them.

    In my experience with backs, if it's bad for you, your back will let you know with pain. If you can comfortably lie on your stomach then go for it. If you are still concerned then perhaps you should limit it to an hour or so at a time.
  • I have had a Neuro, Ortho, PM, and GP doc all tell me to sleep on the side that let's me sleep. I do the McKenzie press-ups and they help but not for very long. When I sleep on my side I use a knee pillow that has an hour glass shape. It works for me.

    I was told that you should have a firm bed if you want to sleep on your stomach. Too soft and it helps the discs but not the facets. You need a balance.
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  • Let's backtrack a second -- while it makes sense to lie in a position that is most comfortable for you, this may not be a position that is ultimately beneficial to your spine.Even though a position may feel comfortable, it may be causing problems physiologically. Anyone who has spinal issues needs to retrain so they are sleeping in a position that does the least amount of damage to the spine's anatomy.

    The reason all the specialists say what they do about the optimal positions for sleeping, sitting, etc. is because they are positions that preserve the anatomical curves of the spine. This is especially important if one already has "issues" that strain a particular area of the spine.(things like DDD, stenosis, bulging discs, etc.)

    Keeping the body and spine "in plumb" is important. When standing the positioning of the head, shoulder, hips, knees and ankles are designed to operate on the same plane. (line up). When standing or sitting, muscles and bones have to fight gravity. The S curve gets pushed, pulled and compressed and it begins to loose its shape. This can lead to musculoskeletal problems, misalignments, deterioration of the discs, development of spinal arthritis, and a host of other problems.

    One simple thing we all can do is give our spines a break while we are in bed for eight hours per day. The positions that have been mentioned protect the S curve. When lying on your stomach, you need a small pillow under the area where you'd wear a belt...key is SMALL...the spinal curves are subtle. When lying on the back FOR SLEEPING you should have a pillow under your knees or something to prop them, again to preserve the S curve. Optimally you'll be on your side with pillows arranged so that your body is in alignment. The pillow between the knees is to bring the top hip up so it is in alignment with the shoulder and head. Within these positions, with sufficient pillows padding you in various ways, you should be able to find a position that is "comfortable."

    Even when you lie flat on the floor, your knees should be bent. Lying perfectly flat on the floor puts undue stress on the various ligaments, muscles, etc. Or lie with your lower legs and feet on the sofa cushion, as we talked about in another post. Otherwise the discs are in a position that pinches off the spinal nerves...lying flat decreases the space rather than increasing it.

    If you do not have any slippage in your vertebrae, it is OK to lie on your stomach in extension. Otherwise, it should be avoided except during brief exercises...again, because it narrows the space rather than enhancing it. But you should train yourself not to sleep on your stomach because it is also very hard on the cervical discs and neck, in general.

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