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Shoulder Pain? NEVER Sleep in These 3 Positions. Do THIS Instead!

This article is a transcribed edited summary of a video Bob and Brad recorded in October of 2019. For the original video go to

Bob: Shoulder pain? Never sleep in these three positions. Do this instead.

Brad: Right, we’re going to show the appropriate way to do it, make yourself happy and more sleep.

Bob: More sleep?

Brad: More sleep if you do it the we say.

Bob: More sleepy?

Brad: Alright, now the shoulder joint is a shallow socket, and it’s sensitive when it does not stay in the joint and it’s pushed off to the side, so pressure on the joint, especially when it’s irritated, is really going to flare it up.

Bob: You can also get impingement at night if you sleep wrong.

Brad: Exactly right. One of the most common things that people do, and they don’t do it on purpose, including myself, is they’ll roll over on the sore shoulder. When that happens, the pressure goes on. Often times it puts it slightly out of position, pinches or cuts the circulation off. There’s a number of things that can happen to cause pain.

Bob: You’re right, Brad, I am amazed how prevalent it is. People with sore shoulders, I’ll ask them if they sleep on that shoulder. They say, “yes,”

Brad: “Does it hurt?”

Bob: “Yeah, I wake up and it hurts.” It’s not healing then.

Brad: Right.

Bob: It needs time to heal.

Brad: So, what is the option? There is an option so you can sleep on that side that you’ve been sleeping on your whole life and you can’t break your habit.

Bob: Ok, here come the pillows: number one, two, three, four pillows. Thank you, Loni.

Brad: Invest in some pillows. Actually, for sleeping on your side, you don’t need this many pillows.

Bob: You do need a nice little throw pillow.

Brad: Then use the pillow that you already have.

Bob: You might use two because you’re on your side. I do, I sleep like this every night, on my side. I eat my own cooking, as they say. I create a canal here, and by creating a canal, now I’m taking the pressure more on my head on my thoracic area rather than the shoulder.

Brad: Or kind of the ribcage.

Bob: If you want to, you can even roll back a little bit, so you’re a little more onto your back. That’ll even take more pressure off the shoulder. This really makes a big difference. So, if you feel like you just cannot get off that side.

Brad: This is what I tell my patients. It makes more sense to me. You can either roll back or think about pulling that shoulder forward, the one under you. It really does the same thing. That’s just two ways of looking at it. Good, so we got the pillow canal if you’re going to sleep on the sore side. Let’s lay down again, Bob, on same side. Let’s say that now the opposite shoulder is sore. So, this upper shoulder is sore, and what we’re going to do is say, this is not so good either, having it on top rested on my side. This is not so good either because, what happens?

Bob: You don’t want to sleep like this, with your arm hanging down your body, because you’re starting to internally rotate your shoulder. This is how we actually test for impingement. You’re actually impinging the shoulder when it’s like this. A lot of people, when they have the shoulder that is sore, they actually rest their arm on their leg for support. A good alternative, Brad, would be what?

Brad: Pillows!

Bob: Right.

Brad: You can use one, but two works better.

Bob: Two works a lot better, yes. You can put one in front of you and the other one under the armpit and the arm itself. This is just a really comfortable thing. If you have one pillow, you are still getting the internal rotation, or you're kind of turned in yet, so you really need two.

Brad: Because that puts the arm in a neutral position, and it makes a big difference on the stress. We are talking about you might not notice it when you first lay down with that sore shoulder up, but after an hour, when you’re sleeping, and you have that stress on there, you wake up, ohhhh!

Bob: By the way, Brad and I invested in pillow companies right before the start of this program.

Brad: LOL

Bob: We wanted to spike it up. Alright, what’s next Brad?

Brad: Oh, this is a big one, we don’t want you laying on your stomach and we’re not a big promoter of stomach sleeping, but if you do, then you put your arms overhead. This is probably pretty obvious for most people. This is really going to bother your shoulders. Or lay on your back and lay with your arms over your head.

Bob: Surprisingly, a lot of people do this. They fall asleep with their hands underneath their head. Or with arms hanging overhead.

Brad: Maybe one arm. I had one patient; she couldn’t get out of that habit. Always slept with her arms up like that. She didn’t have shoulder pain for quite a while, and it was only one shoulder.

Bob: Reminds me of little babies. Little babies sleep that way.

Brad: Yeah, they’re flexible as can be, aren’t they?

Bob: Yeah.

Brad: So, how do you correct this? We are saying no sleeping on your stomach. Sleep on your back but even when you’re sleeping on your back, once again, you’re going to have your pillows, if your right shoulder is the one that hurts, put a pillow under that arm.

Bob: Generally, I only think one is needed for when you sleep on your back. You could do two, but you can experiment. If you get one under the arm, you’re fairly comfortable already.

Brad: It kind of depends on your pillow, if it’s bigger or smaller. You’re going to know what’s right because it immediately going to feel very comfortable on that sore shoulder.

Bob: Yes, this is not something that you’re going to be guessing at.

Brad: Yes, you’ll know. It’s very clear whether it’s comfortable or not.

Bob: The things is, when you’re trying to heal an area, sleep is so important. If you’re not getting your sleep, it’s not healing. So, let’s stop putting the pressure on that shoulder.

Brad: Exactly.

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