How Your Sleeping Position Can Be The Cause Of Your Lower Back Pain And Stiffness!

We don’t often think that our sleeping position could be the cause of our back pain and stiffness. I get asked regularly, should I change my mattress? Which is the best position to sleep?

Before you go out and spend thousands on a brand new mattress, have a read of the tips below to align your pelvis correctly and reduce your lower back pain.

1.       Avoid stomach sleeping

Although it may be comfortable, stomach sleeping places large amounts of stress on your neck and lower back joints and soft tissues. It is the quickest way to develop headaches, lower back stiffness and muscle tightness so avoid it at all costs. Essentially it is placing your spine in the exact opposite position to it’s normal resting position.

2.       Use a pillow between your knees if you’re a side-sleeper

If you are a side sleeper, then placing the pillow between your knees will keep your pelvis in a neutral position and reduce morning symptoms. Make sure the pillow is orientated perpendicular to your legs and this will stop the pillow from escaping during the night!

3.       Use a pillow underneath your knees if you sleep on your back.

Sleeping on your back is the best position, it spreads out your body weight evenly and places your spine in a neutral position. However, for many of us, we have what is known as a ‘sway-back’ or increased lower back curve. Therefore, if you are waking up with morning stiffness, place a pillow under your knees so that your knee bends slightly, this will significantly reduce your morning lower back pain.


4.       Bonus tip – perform morning mobility exercises

As mentioned in previous blogs, the two best exercises to minimize lower back stiffness are knees to chest and knees side-to-side (rotation). These two exercises, if done correctly, and regularly, will allow you to reduce your morning stiffness and get off to a much better start to the day.


If you have any issues with sleeping at night, then implementing these tips will help alleviate your symptoms. Remember however, that night pain is often an indicator that your lower back is being overloaded during the day.

Yours in health

Nick Young


Nicholas Young
About The Author

Nicholas Young

Nick Young is a well-known Physiotherapist in the Southern Sydney region and is the practice principal of Revesby Physiotherapy and Sports Injury Centre. Revesby Physiotherapy is part of Benchmark Physiotherapy, a group of practices for people in their 30’s, 40’s, 50’s and beyond who want to keep active and live healthy lives. You may know Nick from the various columns that he writes for, or from the hundreds of seminars he has given on various musculoskeletal issues. Nick has been involved with dozens of different gyms, clubs and community groups and regularly offers expert advice on injury management and health and wellness. Nick’s background included working with National Rugby League Clubs as well as State Soccer teams, however since transitioning into private practice, Benchmark Physiotherapy has become one of the fastest growing group of practices within NSW. Benchmark Physiotherapy has 6 locations across the Southern Sydney Region.