Many back pain sufferers know that catching 40 winks can be tough for your back.
“But why can rest make me sore?”
Between your vertebrae, there are discs made up of fluid and strong fibres helping to distribute pressures on the spine, for example during sitting, bending or running.
During sleep, the load on our spine is relieved, giving our discs a window in which to heal and hydrate. In the morning a typical spine is 1-2cm longer* (this can be up to 5cm in space!*) as hydration causes them to expand.
These lofty heights are lovely, however more fluid in the disc creates a pressure increase. Bending in the morning produces approximately four times more strain than during the day**, putting you at a greater risk of injury.
Discs have a poor blood supply, so rely upon rehydration and protein replenishment to stay healthy. Of all cartilage in the body, they wear down the fastest*, so ignore them at your peril!
We are largely immobile when asleep, so the facet joints, which are designed to move, can also feel stiff on waking. (Problems aren’t usually caused, but accentuated by sleep).
“So what do I do?”
Mornings are quite a delicate time. Your discs need to depressurise without being subjected to heavy strain or big stretches, but, at the same time, your facet joints like to be stretched out.
The best advice is to slowly expose your back to you body’s weight before subjecting yourself to any stressors.
A good way to do this is to stand and to walk. Try to avoid weak positions like bending and sitting. Common morning mistakes include toe touches, picking up the shower gel and sitting on the Northern line!
It may be difficult to establish when it is safer to stretch out or to start exercising, but just try to avoid it immediately after rolling out of bed (in my opinion, for at least 30 minutes). Also make sure you warm up with some functional bodyweight drills if you plan on exercising.
So don’t sit on the tube. Make a stand and your back will keep you standing!
For more information about your spinal health or to consult a chiropractor email South Quay Clinic.