Best Pillows for Shoulder Pain

Pillows for Shoulder Pain
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After obtaining input from experts including orthopedists and physical therapists, we developed review criteria for individuals experiencing shoulder pain who want to reduce or eliminate the pain. It is not uncommon for an improperly supported sleep position to cause shoulder pain and injuries. Our article digs into what it takes to remove pressure from the shoulder without aggravating other areas of the body to help you sleep well, heal, and enjoy life more.

Sleep has been the redheaded stepchild of wellness for decades. Despite the fact that we spend about 1/3 of our lives sleeping and that quality sleep is essential for health and well-being, researchers have spent very little time studying how to achieve a good night’s sleep. Even basic aspects such as how to choose a pillow and mattress have limited research. The research that does exist shows a strong need for more information.

One thing that has been reported by researchers is that study participants personal pillows are often poor choices because they result in:

  • Poor sleep quality
  • Low pillow comfort
  • Waking symptoms (pain) from lack of support

In this article, we will provide information to help you choose a pillow that relieves shoulder pain and review a variety of pillows against the criteria experts provided. We include an educational section that describes positions researchers suggest sleepers use to reduce shoulder pain for back and side sleepers.

How to Sleep with Shoulder Pain

In most of our articles, we include an early “best roundup” of the winners in each category. However, understanding how to sleep so that your shoulder can heal is so important and not as simple as changing the pillow you rest your head on so we’re going to ask that you spend more time to understand the recommendations from experts. After that, we provide recommendations for each category.

If you don’t do anything else, watch this video. Although researchers haven’t studied sleep posture much, physical therapists work with patients who experience pain every day. Physical therapists have learned through experience how to help relieve pain by adjusting sleeping posture. I’d read all the research that’s been published about how to position yourself in bed to ease shoulder pain when I began looking at videos to try to find one that showed the recommended positions and use of pillows to provide support and ease pain.

This video is completely in line with the recommendations from researchers. It shows you how to position yourself on your side or back and where to use pillows and why they are important.

The ability to sleep well long enough for your body to heal is important for your overall health. Plus, research repeatedly shows that sleep deprived individuals experience more pain than the same people experience when they are well rested. The increase in experienced pain when someone is sleep deprived can affect their quality of life and ability to function. Additionally, chronic sleep deprivation often contributes to chronic musculoskeletal pain. Put simply, it is a vicious circle:

Lack of sleep increases pain.

Pain interferes with the ability to sleep well.

The right support for your muscles helps you sleep deeper and wake up pain free. Since our bodies vary considerably in size, dimensions, and what each of us finds comfortable, there isn’t one pillow that is best for everyone. The best way to know if a pillow works well for you is the same way you know if a mattress works well for you – track how well you sleep with it. There are two easy ways to track the quality of your sleep.

One is a sleep journal. You should track your sleep for two weeks with a new pillow or mattress to have a good idea how well you sleep on it. We created a free sleep journal you can use to track the quality of your sleep. Of course, if the pillow is causing pain or making it impossible to sleep, stop using it. Several days of sleep deprivation puts you at risk of a serious accident.

The other way to track your sleep is to use actigraphy which means using a sleep tracker. Many watches including the Apple Watch and FitBit as well as less expensive models have built-in sleep trackers that can let you know how much REM sleep you obtained, how often you woke up, and how much overall sleep you achieved. In research studies, actigraphy and a sleep journal were equally accurate ways to measure the quality of sleep.

Since testing a bunch of pillows can be an expensive proposition, we highly recommend only trying pillows that are returnable, especially for the pillow(s) you use for your head and neck. Trying them in the store won’t work because support depends on the combination of your mattress and the pillow; not just the pillow.

In both the back and side sleeping positions in the video, the sleeper with shoulder pain has six pillows supporting his muscles and skeleton to provide the support required for him to sleep well enough for his body to heal and not further aggravate the painful shoulder. Watch the video to see the physical therapist explain the positioning of each pillow and why it is needed to provide the necessary support.

Don’t sleep with your head laying on your arm or with your arm under the pillow where your head is resting as both positions can aggravate your injury.

Pillow Research

Many individuals experience sleep disturbances that interfere with their ability to get the sleep they need to maintain their health and well-being. Researchers who had test subjects sleep with five different types of pillows with one week breaks in between during which they used their own pillows found that sleep disruptions due to a poor pillow match to the sleeper’s needs were common as was disturbed sleep from other causes.

A pillow should support the neck and spine in a neutral position which means the muscles are able to fully relax. In this study:

  • The feather pillow performed the worse
  • Contoured foam didn’t perform better than shredded foam pillows
  • Latex pillows performed the best

The test subjects were able to drop out of any of the pillow trials where the pillow wasn’t comfortable. The number of dropouts with each trial was

  • Polyester pillow – 5%
  • Contour foam pillow – 11%
  • Latex pillow – 3%
  • Regular foam pillow – 5.5%
  • Feather pillow – 31%

The percentage reporting no shoulder or arm pain:

  • With their own pillow – 82.1%
  • Polyester pillow – 76.1%
  • Shredded foam pillow – 81.6%
  • Contoured foam pillow – 77.2%
  • Feather – 63.6%
  • Latex – 88.3%

Researchers who evaluated the support provided by various types of pillows concluded that the spinal support alters significantly when people change between a foam, latex or polyester pillow to a feather pillow and vice versa. However, the shape of a foam pillow (contoured vs. shredded foam) does not alter the spinal position significantly.

Importance of Sleep

Sleep is critical to your health. Inadequate sleep increases the risk of developing debilitating and life-threatening illnesses including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, decreased immune function, mental illnesses, dementia, and significantly increases the risk of accidents and relationship difficulties. If you are unable to get a good night’s sleep consistently and adjusting your bedding and mattress doesn’t bring relief, consult a physician for help. You may want to consult a doctor before you change your mattress or pillow, depending on how severe the sleep loss you’re experiencing is. If you are sleep deprived, have someone drive you to the doctor. Driving while sleep deprived is as dangerous as driving while intoxicated.

Best Pillows to Consider for Shoulder Pain

The advice we received from experts strongly suggests that simply changing your pillow won’t do enough to heal an existing injury.

Changing your pillow isn’t enough to heal an existing injury.

You must sleep in a way that supports your body.

The body must be fully supported while you sleep so it can heal properly. That means the proper pillow for your head and neck but also support for your arms, lumbar area, torso, shoulder, and knees. The support you need depends on your sleeping position. If you haven’t already taken the 8 minutes to watch the video earlier in this article, do so now. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a moving picture is worth a million. The video helps you understand how your body needs to be supported while you sleep.

We’ve spent dozens of hours reading reviews, evaluating manufacturer’s claims, and reaching out to manufacturers to learn more about their pillows to identify pillows that work well for different types of sleepers and for different needs. In our round up of recommendations, we separate the pillows by the type of sleeper they are suitable for and by where they would work (under the head, under the shoulder, under the torso, between the knees, and as arm support).

Choose pillows that are returnable or low cost and adjustable. Let’s run through our selections for pillows to support each area of your body.

Side Sleepers: Use this Under Your Head

Remember what a side sleeper looks like when properly supported for shoulder pain.

After you’re in this position, have someone slide their hand under your shoulder. Their hand will slide in easily if you are positioned correctly. This tests how much pressure is on the shoulder on the side you’re lying on. Don’t lay on the arm that’s on the lower side as it can cut off circulation.

Loft is how high a pillow is. Side sleepers should have a high loft (5 inches or more). In this example there’s a firm high loft pillow against his stomach and a low loft pillow under his arm with his arm resting on it to ensure the top shoulder isn’t strained. Allowing your arm to hang down to the bed strains the shoulder muscles.

From the video, you’ll also recall that there is a pillow beneath his side that raises his torso to keep the weight off his shoulder. Your pillow should consider the width of your shoulders (middle of the back of your neck to your shoulder’s edge). If you have broad shoulders, you’ll need more loft than someone with narrower shoulders.

Now, let’s look at some good pillows for side sleepers.

Birch Latex and Wool Pillow

birchliving pillow

If you want the assurance of a 100-night sleep trial and a 3-year warranty on a latex and wool pillow that is handmade in the USA, Birch will deliver. Wool is naturally temperature regulating and they only use wool certified by Wool Integrity NZ. Wool is also naturally flame retardant so there aren’t any chemical flame retardants. The 100% Talalay latex is sustainably tapped and the GREENGUARD and OEKO-TEX® certifications ensure quality and socially responsible working conditions.

With a 4 – 6-inch loft, depending on how much you fluff it up, this pillow can provide the perfect support while still feeling lovely when you lay your head down. Their customer service is top notch, too. For $100, it’s well worth giving it a try and the sleep trial means there’s no risk. The Birch mattress is one of my favorites and I wouldn’t hesitate to try this pillow.

ZOMA Pillow

zoma pillow

ZOMA Pillow comes with a 10-year warranty! At just $75, that works out to be $7.50 a year. There’s a 100-night sleep trial and free shipping, even on returns. The loft is 7-inches so it might be a bit high for some petite sleepers. I love the ZOMA mattress and if their pillow lives up to the same standards, this one is a winner. The foams are CertiPUR-US certified and the cover is breathable.

The Scrumptious Side Sleeper Pillow

The Scrumptious Side Sleeper Pillow  

The design of the Scrumptious side sleeper pillow makes it ideal for the pillow you place under your head because the curve keeps your shoulder off the pillow and allows your neck to remain aligned with your spine. At almost $100, it’s not an inexpensive pillow but there is a 60-day free return policy so if it doesn’t work well for you, you can return it for a full refund. Return shipping is even free.

The height is adjustable. As it comes, it is about 5-inches high, but you can unzip it and remove some of the stuffing to reduce the height if that’s too high for your body. The pillow retains its thickness but feels soft against your face. It doesn’t heat up. 100% CertiPUR-US certified and copper infused foam is naturally antibacterial and antimicrobial. The cover is washable. Scrumptious pillows are handcrafted at a family owned business in California. Some reviewers reported off-gassing that dissipated in 1 – 3 days.

Bamboo Pillowcases are available.

Sleep Artisan Luxury Side Sleeper Pillow

Sleep Artisan Luxury Side Sleeper Pillow

The Sleep Artisan is the same concept as the Scrumptious but with adjustable latex and microfiber poly silk stuffing instead of foams. Latex makes it antimicrobial and hypoallergenic.

The curve allows room for your shoulders below the pillow and supports your neck when you sleep on your side. The cover is organic cotton, hemp, and polyester. Spending $100 on a pillow seems pricey to some people but a good night’s sleep is priceless. When you consider that you spend 1/3 of your life sleeping and the quality of your sleep affects your health and the quality of the other 2/3 of your life, it makes sense to invest in bedding that will help you sleep well.

Sleep Artisan comes with a money back guarantee so you can try it and if you don’t like it, return it for a full refund. There are no chemicals or fire retardants in the pillow. After you receive it, fluff it in the dryer for about 20 minutes to redistribute the filling. Made in a family owned company in California that stands behind their products.

Extra Pillowcases can be ordered or you can use your regular pillowcases.

PlushBeds Solid Natural Latex

PlushBeds Solid Natural Latex

If you read the pillow research section, you’ll recall that latex had the lowest dropout rate by test subjects and the highest success at eliminating arm and shoulder pain with 88.3% of the subjects not experiencing pain when they slept on the latex pillow. Now, the researchers didn’t disclose the brand of pillow used in the research so we’re not saying it was this specific pillow. This latex pillow has a 5-inch loft that will maintain its height (much like buckwheat without the noise) which will be ideal for many sleepers. Be sure to order the Queen or King size if you need a 5-inch loft as the standard size is only 4-inches.

The Talalay latex sleeps cool and is Global Organic Latex Standard (GOLS) certified. The ventilated latex provides airflow. Latex is highly durable and will retain its shape for a long time. It is also naturally hypoallergenic, dust mite, and moisture resistant. It normally retails for $100 but when we reviewed it, it was 20% off.

PharMeDoc Memory Foam Pillow with Cooling Gel Reversible

PharMeDoc Memory Foam Pillow with Cooling Gel Reversible

Many people experience multiple sleep challenges. Getting too hot while they sleep is a common problem. If being too hot is an issue for you, choose a pillow with cooling gel. This pillow has two sides, one with a cooling gel and the other side doesn’t cool so you can use it when you want to stay warm on cooler nights.

The gel absorbs your body heat and dissipates it into the air, helping you regulate your body temperature. The pillow’s support comes from soft memory foam. The cover is removable, so it is easy to keep clean. There is a lifetime warranty and a 100% satisfaction guarantee. At less than $30, hot side sleepers should love this pillow.

Gel Memory Foam L-Shape

Gel Memory Foam L-Shape

If you sleep hot and have shoulder pain, this is a good pillow to try if you prefer a non-traditional pillow shape. The Gel Dough memory foam made from polyurethane foam will sleep cooler because of the gel. It comes with a 5-year warranty – something you’d expect for a pillow that will drain more than $100 from your wallet. The cover is made from Tencel which helps wick away moisture. There will be some initial off-gassing although it is CertiPUR-US® certified. Made in China.

Boomerang

The Boomerang is shaped more like a U with a short side than a Boomerang. I love the idea of this shape which is designed to give side sleepers something to hug while they sleep that also supports their head and neck, some people with shoulder pain have experienced improvements with this pillow. It’s not my favorite but at under $20 and with Amazon Prime return protection, it’s worth a shot if the design appeals to you. It comes with a pillowcase that is washable. The pillow itself is hypoallergenic. Based on the seller’s images and comments, this pillow is large and would probably be too high for smaller people.

Cheer Collection Down Alternative Extreme Comfort Pregnancy U Pillow

Cheer Collection Down Alternative Extreme Comfort Pregnancy U Pillow

You don’t have to be pregnant to love this pillow; it won’t cause pregnancy. Some husbands report buying one for themselves after trying out their wife’s pillow. If you were overwhelmed by the number of pillows in the video, this pillow may help. It provides the pillows that support your neck, provide a place to rest your arm, and support between your knees. Because it rests along both your sides, you don’t need to wake up and reposition several pillows when you roll over – they’re all there just waiting for you. This pillow is also great for someone who is recovering from surgery.

Stomach sleeping is the least healthy sleeping position. We often recommend using a pillow you can hug to wean yourself off the stomach sleeping position. Numerous people reported that this pillow made it easy to stop sleeping on their stomach. If the area where your head rests isn’t comfortable, you can put that part at your feet and use a different pillow for your head without losing the huggable pillow or the knee support.

The downside is that this pillow will take up more than your share of a Queen bed and it isn’t conducive to cuddling. But if you want to be well supported while you sleep, this pillow will help. The pillowcase zips off so you can wash it up. Made of microfiber. This pillow is a bargain at just above $50.

Extra Pillowcases are available.

PlushBeds Cotton-Encased Down Blend Pillow

PlushBeds Cotton-Encased Down Blend Pillow

Side sleepers who want the feel of down have two options, use a second, supportive pillow under the cozy down pillow next to their face or buy a very high loft down pillow. This down pillow is special. It is made with cruelty free down that is encased in a pillow that is lined with cotton, so you don’t get poked by feathers and it has a 7-inch loft. I’d fluff it regularly to maintain the loft and use a supportive pillow underneath if it begins allowing your head to tilt down too much. It comes with a 3-year warranty but no sleep trial. Personally, I’d be willing to risk the $59 without a trial based on the company’s reputation.

Back Sleepers: Use this Under Your Head

Remember what a properly supported back sleeper looked like in the video:

Your shoulders are able to relax more if your arms are supported by the pillow instead of resting flat on the bed. They shouldn’t be raised too much. The position should feel relaxing. This is a good place to use a low or medium loft pillow. Your neck should be supported at a slightly higher level than your head.

When you’re in a good position your body will feel relaxed. Back sleepers should have a medium loft pillow (3 – 5 inches) under their head. Let’s look at some suitable pillows for under a back sleeper’s head.

EPABO Contour Memory Foam Pillow Orthopedic Sleeping Pillows

EPABO Contour Memory Foam Pillow Orthopedic Sleeping Pillows

In the video, you saw the recommendation that back sleepers have a firm, low pillow under a softer comforting pillow for their head. This pillow is good for the base pillow because it is firm and the height can be adjusted, making it suitable for a wider range of body sizes.

The memory foam is breathable and sleeps cool. The cover is hypoallergenic and removable for easy washing. Like other memory foams, you may experience some off gassing when the pillow first arrives.

You can try this pillow without worry because they provide a 30-day satisfaction guarantee that allows you to return it for any reason and receive a full refund. Available with adjustable firmness in 3 sizes that are all under $50.

Ghostbed Pillow

Ghostbed Pillow

The Ghostbed pillow uses GhostIce fabric to keep you cool while you sleep. With great air flow and moisture wicking fabric, you won’t wake up with a sweaty head when you sleep on this pillow. Its ergonomic design has helped thousands of people sleep better. The cover is removable and washable. They provide a 100-night trial so you can see for yourself if this pillow is worth the almost $100 you’ll pay to own it. It comes with a 5-year warranty. As we’ve said before, a good night’s sleep is priceless. If you’re a hot back sleeper, you can try this pillow without risk.

MARNUR Cervical Pillow Contour Memory Foam Orthopedic Pillow

MARNUR Cervical Pillow Contour Memory Foam Orthopedic Pillow

There’s a back-sleeping position that is nicknamed “The Starfish” because sleepers keep their arms up around their head. It’s not the healthiest sleep position and it can lead to shoulder pain so we recommend changing your sleep position if you can. If you can’t, this pillow may help by providing support for your arms. It is ergonomically designed to support the proper alignment and curve of your neck and support your head while you sleep. The cover is removable and washable.

Designed to reduce pressure on your joints and facilitate blood circulation, you can try this pillow for under $50 and it comes with a moneyback guarantee so there’s no risk.

Stomach Sleepers: Use this Under your Head

Stomach sleeping is the least healthy sleeping position for your musculoskeletal health and can aggravate snoring and sleep apnea. We recommend that you wean yourself off stomach sleeping in favor of side or back sleeping unless you have a unique medical reason why you should sleep on your stomach. Stomach sleepers are more likely to experience neck and lower back pain.

Belly Sleep Gel Infused Memory Foam Pillow

Belly Sleep Gel Infused Memory Foam Pillow

This pillow will help you when you’re sleeping on your stomach because it isn’t too high and although it is soft, it won’t fluff up and block your airway. As you transition to your side or back, you can add another pillow on top of this to get the height you need in the other positions. The cover is moisture wicking, odor resistant, contains antibacterial properties and can be washed in the washing machine. The loft is only 2.5 inches. It’s infused with cooling gel to help you keep cool while you sleep.

We’d be tempted to try this pillow for the under the torso support side sleepers need to keep their weight off their shoulders and the under the shoulder support back sleepers benefit from. It also works well for the hip support belly sleepers need. At a little over $50, you get a soft but firm cooling pillow that can be used in a number of different ways.

Under Head Support – Multiple Positions

Coop Home Goods

Coop Home Goods

The Coop Home Goods pillow provides a 100-night sleep trial to see if it is the right pillow for you. It’s adjustable filling can be adjusted to change the loft to the one that is just right for you.

The cover is breathable and soft, hypoallergenic and dust mite resistant. It’s made in the USA, CertiPUR-us and Greenguard Gold certified. The pillow has a 5-year warranty which makes spending a bit over $50 a no-risk proposition.

Nectar

Nectar Pillow

Nectar understands comfort and how the body needs to be supported during sleep. Their expertly designed pillow can be adjusted to the optimal height. It includes Tencel cooling fabric and active ventilation on both sides, so you don’t have to choose between softness and coolness next to your skin. There’s a 50-night no-risk in-home sleep trial. Unfortunately, Nectar doesn’t warranty the $75 pillow after the sleep trial. They are a good company and I’m not sure why they don’t provide a pillow warranty when their mattress warranty is superior. Based on their reputation, I’d be willing to give their pillow a go.

Leesa

Leesa hybrid pillow

Leesa has thoughtfully designed a pillow that addresses many of the issues people experience with traditional pillows. The down alternative is held in place by creating pockets of fill, so the support doesn’t move away from your head. The other side has gel to help you sleep cool. Inside, you can remove one layer of the support to decrease the loft. They provide a 30-night trial period and a 3-year warranty. If this appeals to you, you’re not risking the $100 price if you don’t like it (as long as you return it on time).

PlushBeds Wool Pillow

Instead of you adjusting the pillow’s loft, PlushBeds allows you to custom order the height you want in this high-quality wool pillow. Wool is a natural temperature regulator that will sleep comfortably year-round. PlushBeds uses only responsibly sourced wool from sheep that are treated humanely.  When we reviewed this pillow, it was on sale for $99, down from its regular price of $125. Unfortunately, Plushbeds doesn’t provide a sleep trial or a warranty on this pillow. Like Nectar, Plushbeds has a good reputation, so I’m not sure why they don’t offer a warranty.

Lunvon Queen Adjustable Shredded Gel Memory Foam Pillow

If you want a budget priced pillow with adjustable loft and gel to keep you cool, this is it. You can add or remove filling to change the height. At this price, a side sleeper could buy two for arm support and move stuffing from one to the other to end up with a low loft pillow under the arm supported by a high loft pillow with most of the stuffing keeping their arm from hanging down. With the cooling gel foam and bamboo cover, it will also help ensure that being surrounded by pillows doesn’t leave them too hot.

The memory foam is CertiPUR-us Certified. The pillow has a no-risk, 100% money back guarantee so you can see if this works and if it doesn’t, simply return it and get your money back.

Arm Support

When you watched the video, you saw how using a pillow or pillows to support your arm instead of letting them just hang down eases tension on the shoulders. Pillows in this section are made to support your arms. We’ve already mentioned how you could use two of the Lunvon Queen Adjustable Shredded Gel Memory Foam pillows to support your arm. These are some other arm support options.

LANGRIA Luxury Hotel Collection Bed Pillows Plush Down Alternative

The Langria is fluffy and would work well for the pillow that supports the pillow your arm is resting on. Reasonably priced at just over $30 for two, it won’t set you back too much. The fill is polyester fiberfill. It’s not memory foam so there’s no odor when you open it up. The cover is breathable and hypoallergenic but not dust mite resistant. There’s also no gel to help you keep cool, so we don’t recommend this one for hot sleepers.

LUNAVY Adjustable Fit Shredded Memory Foam Pillow

LUNAVY Adjustable Fit Shredded Memory Foam Pillow

Lunavy is another adjustable fill memory foam pillow. It is CertiPUR-us certified for less than $25. The cover is washable. It doesn’t have gel to keep you cool but the memory foam is breathable which will help with heat buildup. The ability to adjust the fill makes this pillow flexible enough to be either of the arm support pillows a side sleeper needs. With three of them, a back sleeper could create two low loft arm support pillows and a fluffy supportive pillow for under their thighs.

Lumbar Support

Lumbar support is for the small of your back.

ComfiLife Lumbar Support Pillow

ComfiLife Lumbar Support Pillow

Adding lumbar support for just one night often improves painful mornings. For less than $20, you could wake up feeling years younger. This pillow is designed to rest under the lower back of a back sleeper. It can also be used in the curve of the waist for side sleepers. The high-density memory foam won’t flatten so it will continue providing the support your body needs to relax all night long. The cover is breathable and easy to clean as well as machine washable. With a lifetime warranty and a money back guarantee, you can try it risk-free.

Pandaspillow Cooling Lumbar Support Pillow

Pandaspillow Cooling Lumbar Support Pillow

If you sleep hot, this lumbar support is made from cooling gel foam to help you sleep cool. The size is also adjustable so a wider range of people will be comfortable using this pillow. The cover is removable and washable, hypoallergenic, and soft. When we reviewed this product, it was on sale for under $30 and came with a complimentary ebook with techniques to improve your sleep. Pandaspillow is a bit more expensive than ComfiLife but if you’re a hot sleeper, its worth the price to have the cooling foam against your lower back.

Torso Support

Torso support raises the torso of the side sleeper which helps keep weight off their shoulder while they sleep. In the video you saw the physical therapist place a buckwheat pillow under the torso to raise the body and ease pressure on the shoulders. Pillows in this section are suitable for the pillow in that position.

Cradling Sleeper

Cradling Sleeper

The Cradling sleeper is specifically designed to provide torso support side sleepers need to keep weight off their shoulders. It is thoughtfully designed so that it even contours to provide unrestricted space for a lady’s breast. Test subjects slept 20% better when they used the Cradling Sleeper and reported less need to visit their chiropractor as often.

This torso support helps your spine stay in alignment and removes pressure from your lower shoulder while you sleep. It’s not washable but you can place it under your fitted sheet which will protect it from most dirt. For under $50, it provides a lot of support. There is a 30-day money back guarantee and a 50% refund if you wait for 31 – 90 days.

Buckwheat

In the video, Rebecca Kern Steiner, PT recommended using a buckwheat pillow under the body in the side position because it is adjustable. For a physical therapist who works with different clients, adjustability is important. However, the ratio between your shoulders and waist aren’t going to fluctuate. There’s nothing wrong with a buckwheat pillow if you want to use one. However, be aware that many people find them noisy. If the noise from the pillow wakes you up when you shift positions, buckwheat isn’t a good choice. Instead, find a pillow that is the right size for your body with a firm feel so it won’t collapse under the weight of your body when it supports you.

Beans72 Organic Buckwheat Pillow

Beans72 Organic Buckwheat Pillow

Many people love buckwheat pillows despite the noise. If you want to try one, this 100% Cotton version is made in the USA with organic buckwheat hulls grown in the US and encased by 100% natural, unbleached cotton. Buckwheat won’t collapse and you can shift the support to exactly where it is needed. Air circulates among the shells, so it doesn’t sleep hot. The zipper allows you to increase or decrease the amount of buckwheat in the pillow to customize it to exactly what you need.

Knee Support

Providing support that raises the upper leg of a side sleeper eases stress on the skeleton and muscles which can reduce or eliminate pain. Many people use a pillow for this purpose, the long U shape pillow provides this support, and there are smaller solutions you can strap to one leg to keep them in place. I use a pillow, but I am considering trying a strap on model because I do wake up and reposition the pillow when I roll over and the strap on models might allow me to sleep through rolling over.

Back sleepers need under the knee support to ease stress on the back. In the video, a pillow was used but a bolster pillow like the one a massage therapist uses would also work.

ComfiLife Bolster Pillow

ComfiLife Bolster Pillow

The ComfiLife Bolster is a half-moon shaped memory foam pillow that will raise your knees when you’re sleeping on your back. It’s soft against your skin and comes with a lifetime warranty. The cover is easy to clean and breathable. You can try ComfiLife with no risk because they offer a money back satisfaction guarantee. The height is 4-inches at the highest point. For less than $20, you can reduce strain on your lower back.

Half Moon Bolster Pillow

Half Moon Bolster Pillow

If you have longer legs, the Half Moon Bolster pillow is a bit taller and might work better for you. It’s 3 inches longer and a little higher than the ComfiLife. It will cost you a little more, about as much as a Chocolate Mocha Frappuccino at Starbuck’s. The cover is organic cotton that is removable and washable. Made from 100% visco-elastic memory foam, it has a no questions asked 100% money back guarantee.

Rubark Orthopedic Knee Pillow for Side Sleepers

Rubark Orthopedic Knee Pillow for Side Sleepers

Side sleepers can use this strap on knee pillow to keep their spine aligned while they sleep. If you’re a side sleeper who hasn’t used knee support, you’re going to be surprised by how much younger you feel when you wake up after you use knee support. The strain of your leg laying on your other leg is hard on your muscles. For under $25, see what a difference the right support makes. The strap is soft and adjustable, so you won’t notice it after its in place. Memory foam ensures the support won’t go flat.

The ergonomic design eases muscle tension. With a lifetime and satisfaction guarantee, there’s no risk when you try the Rubark Orthopedic knee pillow.

If you’re a back and side combo sleeper, the half moon bolsters can be moved to provide between the knees support when you’re on your side.

Your Mattress

We’ve talked a lot about how to arrange pillows to support your body, but your mattress must also do its job. If your mattress is sagging, it can make it nearly impossible to get your spine properly aligned while you sleep. People often blame age for their morning aches and pains until they buy a new mattress and realize it was their mattress that was old.

The right mattress for you depends on how you sleep (back, side, stomach, or combo). We’ve written a number of articles that provide information you can use to choose the right mattress:

What Causes Shoulder Pain?

Do you check your email, Facebook, or Instagram in this position? Your shoulder is bearing weight it isn’t designed to bear if you do this and you’ll eventually end up with shoulder pain. Support your body properly and you can avoid the pain.

Source: David Ingram, Fitness Coach (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W3Td3bIbRLA)

  • Arthritis
  • Bursitis
  • Diabetes
  • Dislocation
  • Broken collarbone
  • Frozen shoulder
  • Hunching over your computer
  • Inflammation in the muscles, tendons, or joints
  • Injuries
  • Ligament or soft tissue issues injuries and inflammation
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Poor circulation
  • Pressure from sleeping on your shoulder
  • Shoulder blade issues
  • Sleep deprivation increases pain
  • Strain from your arms not being supported while you sleep
  • Stress increases pain
  • Tendonitis
  • Torn rotator cuff

Pain is how the body tells you that something is wrong, so be sure to see your physician about your shoulder pain. No one ever says they went to the doctor too soon, but a lot of people live in pain longer than they have to and say they wish they’d gone sooner.

7 Ways to Cope with Chronic Shoulder Pain

  1. When you get in bed, pay attention to how your body feels. When your muscles relax easily, you’re supported.
  2. I use this heated neck and shoulder wrap to soothe the pain when my shoulder hurts.
  3. If I haven’t been in pain for a while and pain returns, I ice it.
  4. My chiropractor also helps. My doctor just wanted to give me pain pills but as long as I see my chiropractor, I can get rid of the pain and don’t need the pills. My physician didn’t recommend chiropractic help. I had another issue and learned that he could help my shoulder pain.
  5. In some cases, sleeping on your back and placing a pillow under the painful shoulder provides relief. Talk to your doctor or try it and see if it helps your shoulder pain. If it makes things worse, discontinue the position immediately.

  1. Both my chiropractor and massage therapist recommended exercises that help. Yoga shoulder exercises can help you loosen tight muscles so that you can work on strengthening them.

  1. Learn how to manage stress. Stress is the number one cause of insomnia. Pain increases when we don’t get enough sleep. When you learn how to manage stress in healthy ways, you sleep better and experience less pain.

Conclusion

We hope the information we’ve provided helps you reduce or eliminate shoulder pain and prevent reinjuries in the future. You can use these quick links to return to the specific sections where pillows you are interested in were described.

Once you get your pillow(s), use our free sleep journal to track the quality of your sleep.

If you have any questions, we’ll try to answer them right away. Comments are always welcome, too.

Sleep Well.

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