Why Do I Get Back Pain When I Wake Up?

Do You Get Back Pain When You Wake Up?

Watch the video below to learn how to prevent back pain when you wake up in the morning.

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"Why Do I Have Back Pain When I Wake Up?"

This is a pretty common question that I hear from clients who suffer from back pain.

After all, you'd think the morning time would be when your back feels best after sleeping all night.

But in fact, back pain when waking up is a fairly common problem.

The question "Why do I get back pain when I wake up?" usually falls into one of 3 categories:

  1. Back pain that keeps you from sleeping at night or wakes you up too early in the morning.
  2. Back pain that hurts when rolling over in bed and/or sitting up to get out of bed in the morning
  3. Back pain and stiffness when you stand up from bed in the morning and it feels like you have to take a few steps before you can stand up all the way straight.

In the video above, I'll explain:

  1. How to prevent back pain from waking you up at night
  2. What to do if back pain does wake you up at night so that you can get back to sleep.
  3. How to roll over and sit up in bed in the morning when you wake up.
  4. How to prevent back pain and stiffness during those first few steps in the morning.

How To Prevent Back Pain At Night So It Doesn't Wake You Up

If you have back pain when lying down, often some simple positioning tips can help:

  1. If lying on your back put a pillow (or maybe even 2, 3, or 4 pillows under your knees) in order to put your hip flexor muscles on slack and allow your lower back to flatten into the bed.
  2. Put a pillow between your knees and curl up more in a fetal position
  3. If you have a bed that allows you to raise the head, incline the head slightly so that it allows your back to stay flat on the bed.

What To Do If You Get Back Pain That Wakes You Up At Night

If you Google "back pain at night" you're likely to find some scary things.

Yes, it's true that having back pain that wakes you up at night can be a sign of a spinal tumor, ankylosing spondylitis, or other serious pathology.

But, not all back pain at night is serious.  In fact, most of the time, it's not serious.

If you have back pain that wakes you up at night, and you can't get back to sleep by changing positions, moving around, or even taking medications, then it's worth calling your doctor to get some tests done, especially if you're over the age of 50 and/or have a prior history of cancer.

However, often times, changing positions like rolling from your back to your side, from your side to your back, or using the positioning tips above can help.

However, if changing positions alone doesn't help when back pain wakes you up at night, try getting out of bed.

If you stay awake in bed tossing and turning, not only do you get frustrated that you can't sleep (which makes it harder to sleep), but it can actually make it harder to get to sleep and stay asleep in the future.

Ideally, you want to condition your brain to see the stimulus of "bed" with the response of "sleep".  (Kind of like a Pavlov's dog response).

If you spend too much time awake in bed, your brain starts to lose this association.

So, if you wake up at night due to back pain, get out of bed, use the bathroom, move around or stretch a little bit, then go back to bed and see if you can get back to sleep.

This Stretch Can Help If You Have Back Pain When You Wake Up At Night

I actually used this stretch myself when I woke up with back pain one night shortly before writing this blog post.  I used this stretch to get back to sleep, and I haven't had back pain at night or during the day since.

Stretch To Relieve Back Pain If You Wake Up In Bed At Night.

  1. Lie on the side that you have back pain.
  2. Bend that knee backward and grab your foot with your hand if you can.
  3. Straighten your top leg and grab your toes (ideally) or ankle.

This position stretches out your hip flexors (iliopsoas), and it can help you relieve pain and get back to sleep if back pain wakes you up at night.  Watch the video above at 9:15 for more details.

Getting Up From Bed Without Back Pain When You Wake Up

Scooting Over In Bed Without Back Pain

  1. Do a pelvic tilt to flatten your lower back into the bed.
  2. VERY SLIGHTLY lift your pelvis, just enough to unload the weight off of your hips.
  3. Scoot your hips over slightly, then move your shoulders.
  4. You may have to repeat this process a few times in order to scoot in bed without back pain.

Roll Over In Bed Without Back Pain

  1. Roll over in bed by rolling your whole body as one unit (like rolling a log).
  2. If you move your hips and shoulders at the same time, you'll prevent twisting in your lower back, which can cause back pain.
  3. Roll over to the side of the bed so that your feet and knees are at the edge of the bed

Sitting Up From Bed Without Back Pain When You Wake Up

  1. Once you're at the side of the bed, hang your feet over the edge of the bed and allow them to drop toward the floor.
  2. Use your hands to push your body up to a sitting position.
  3. Allow the weight of your legs and your arms to lift you up like a lever.  Doing this will prevent you from having to use your back muscles to sit up, which can help prevent back pain when sitting up from bed after you wake up.

Stand Up From Bed Without Back Pain When You Wake Up

After you're sitting at the side of the bed, it sometimes helps to bend forward and allow your lower back muscles to stretch for a few minutes when you first wake up

Then use these tips to stand up from bed without back pain when you wake up:

  1. Make sure you're on the edge of the bed with your feet on the floor.
  2. Lean your trunk forward slightly.  When your head goes down, your hips will come up.
  3. Once you've got your weight on your feet and your knees are straight, roll your hips and pelvis underneath of you to bring you up to an upright standing position.

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