Poor posture usually results in back pain, a condition that can cause great discomfort. Some pillows are designed specifically to help improve your posture. They might force you to sit or lie down in a way that benefits your spine or shoulders. Even normal pillows used in the right ways can help your posture. Specialist orthopedic pillows usually cost more to buy than standard pillows but may offer additional support.
Ideal bed pillows for posture depend on your body shape and any current back problems. However, in general good bed pillows for posture are firm enough to retain their shape but soft enough for comfort when sleeping, according to "8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back." The authors also suggest using a harder pillow underneath a soft goose-down pillow. Stacking the pillows in this way offers support for your head and spine, which can help your general posture, and also allows you to get a good night's sleep.
Your favored sleeping position will determine how best to use pillows to support your spine. For example, if you tend to sleep on your back, then you should use pillows behind your head and underneath the back of your knees, according to the UCLA Ergonomics Department. However, if you sleep on your side, you should use a pillow beneath your ear and in between your legs. The aim is to keep your spine as straightly aligned as possible.
Many people have a tendency to slump or slouch when sitting at their desk for long periods of time. This type of position puts pressure on the lumbar region of the spine, which is the section toward the lower back, where the spine curves inward. Over time, slouching in your seat can affect your posture. Lumbar rolls or stiff lower back pillows are designed to sit in the curve of your lower back while you're seated. The McKinley Health Center recommends moving closer to your desk and sitting up straight with the pillow tucked into the hollow of your lumbar region.
Many pillows designed to help posture are known as orthopedic pillows. Often, these pillows use substances such as "memory foam" -- a type of foam that returns to its basic shape after use and helps support your body. The cervical orthopedic pillow has one curved side to support the neck. The wedge orthopedic pillow on the other hand is designed to improve posture while sitting down. The wedge goes under your buttocks, pushing your body forward and aligning your spine.
- "8 Steps to a Pain-Free Back: Natural Posture Solutions for Pain in the Back"; Esther Gokhale and Susan Adams; 2008
- UCLA Ergonomics: Sleeping Posture
- McKinley Health Center: Managing Acute Back Pain
- "The Chiropractor's Self-Help Back and Body Book: Your Complete Guide to Relieving Aches and Pains at Home and on the Job"; Samuel Homola; 2002