How important is the right pillow in avoiding neck pain and headaches?

Over the years, it is likely that you have woken up at times with a stiff and painful neck, and/or a headache just to top it off.

This neck pain can involve many of the tissues in our body, including muscles, ligaments, tendons and joints in and around the cervical spine (the neck).

There are also some conditions that increase your likeliness of getting neck pain, this includes arthritis, disc degenerations or whiplash type injuries from the past.

However an appropriate pillow may minimise the likeliness of developing neck pain, yet finding your next pillow isn’t always an easy task. Here are some simple tips to get you started in choosing the right pillow to avoid neck pain and headaches.

Ensure you have a pillow that allows you cervical spine to remain in neutral, in other words, ensuring you neck remain relatively straight and not dropped too far off to the side, front or back into hyper extension. This ensures the natural curve of your neck is supported and maintained.

However your sleeping position may determine what type of pillow you need.

For example if you are a:

Back sleeper – a flatter pillow would be more appropriate to ensure you neck isn’t bent forward too much or that your chin isn’t too tucked up.

Side sleeper – a higher pillow than the back sleeper, to support your head due to the gap between your head and the bed between your shoulders. If you feel as though you want to tuck your arm under you pillow, this is usually a sign that your pillow is too flat and you want increase its height with your arm; your arm should feel comfortable down by your side with a well supported pillow.

However, every body shape is different. A person with big shoulders may need a higher or firmer pillow, yet a petite body with small shoulders may need a soft or smaller pillow.

These tips are a handy guide, but if you would like more advice or help choosing your next pillow to best suit you, your osteopath is happy to discuss this during your next visit.

Happy sleeping.


EGOC stocks Therapeutic pillows. Made in Australia, these pillows have been designed in consultation with health professionals. Talk to our team about this range at any time.


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