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Why shouldn't I sleep on my stomach?

Neck pain syndromes are very common and are likely the 4th most common cause of pain. It is estimated that 9% of men and 12% of women experience some cervical discomfort, with or without pain radiating to the arm and hand. Additionally, 35% of the population can recall experiencing some form of neck pain in their lives. The cervical spine is the source of a significant proportion of disorders referred to the shoulder, elbow, wrist, and hand. It is the chiropractor's responsibility to determine whether the cause lies in the neck or the region affected by the pain.


The human neck has a limited range of motion, which varies from person to person and tends to decrease with age, but it typically ranges around 160º or 80º to each side from a neutral posture, with the eyes focused forward. When sleeping on your stomach, you end up forcing the vertebrae to rotate beyond their normal range of motion (much of this movement is carried out by the first two cervical vertebrae, just below the base of the skull), and this rotation causes stretching of the neck's rotating muscles, leaving them tense, painful, and with limited movement. It's not uncommon for people to wake up with stiff necks and/or headaches that can last for days.

Chiropractic care can assist in these conditions by realigning the vertebrae and releasing these muscles with specific techniques. However, the ideal approach is to change habits. Since it's not easy to modify your sleeping position (stomach sleeping), mainly because we are not conscious of this posture, it is advisable to make this change gradually and without tension. You can try falling asleep on your side or on your back because, in this way, your body gradually gets accustomed to this position. Even if you end up returning to the inappropriate posture after falling asleep, you will have gained some hours of restful sleep without straining your neck with rotations that can cause tension and pain that you may only feel when you wake up.CIPRIANO, Joseph J. Manual fotográfico de testes ortopédicos e neurológicos. Artmed Editora, 2016

EVANS, Ronald C. Exame Físico Ortopédico Ilustrado. Manole Editora, 2.ed. 2003.

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