It seems a no-brainer.
But what if we’re blaming the wrong thing?
What if the position itself is fine and something else is at play?
Anatomically, our neck is designed to rotate. Clinically, a “normal” amount of neck rotation is around 90 degrees either side. Anything less than that indicates restricted tissue, whether it’s painful or not.
And this is why we’d like to challenge a long-held industry belief.
Is your neck sore because it’s in perfect working order and you’ve just forced it into a relatively NORMAL end-range position all night?
Is your neck sore because it was already overloaded BEFORE going to bed and you’ve challenged it further by forcing into an already compromised end-range position?
With what we are finding here clinically, it might actually be the latter.
You’re neck postural habits and shapes BEFORE going to bed might just be more important than the position it’s in when sleeping.
The idea behind this is relatively simple. Thanks to the modern world and our reliance on iPhones, computers, recliners, sitting up in bed etc, it’s easy to default into consistently poor neck postures. Considering we devote so much time to these activities, it’s likely that our necks are already compromised in some way before our heads ever hit the pillow.
Risk of SIDS with babies aside, how common is it to find toddlers and children lying on their bellies at night? Most of us are born with excellent neck tissue quality and all the flexibility in the world. It’s not until we reach an age of high sitting/slouching demands like school, computer use etc. where we can be given the chance to deteriorate.
Unfortunately, as the modern world is not going away, this idea may actually be entirely redundant anyway…
Sleeping on your tummy may be bad for our necks not because the position itself is volatile, but because the modern world encourages neck dysfunction.
Either way, it’s an interesting discussion point.
Clinically we find that by freeing up that restricted neck range and encouraging consistent improvements in postures and positions, those that naturally tend to sleep on their stomachs seem to report less discomfort.
It seems to improve.
This doesn’t equate to empirical research, but it does seem reliably repeatable.
With this in mind, we ask that you consider which positions you put your neck into DURING THE DAY, not just in bed. We’re talking looking down at work or at home, laptop use, reclining and watching TV through your feet etc.
If you can, and you can successful improve your segmental neck mobility you may find sleeping on your stomach increasingly more comfortable.