Myth: Lying in bed is good for back pain


One of the more common responses I get when I ask patients to describe their back pain, is that they are stiff and sore when they get up in the morning but it gets better as the day goes on.

Some people are told or believe that lying down is always the best thing to do with back pain.

Here is my take on this subject.

First off let me say that if you have a normal functioning spine with no amount of disc degeneration or arthritis you should not experience this problem.

Those who do have these problems are susceptible to many things and one of these is that lying in bed for excessive periods actually  causes back pain. Let’s examine this more closely. A little known fact is that we are all actually taller first thing in the morning than we are before we go to bed at night. This comes down to our spinal disks. The disks in between each of our vertebrae are packed with very concentrated protein chains that love water. When we lie horizontally, the discs fill with fluid and gently push the vertebrae away from one another, lengthening the spine. The reason, our backs are often stiff in the morning is that weak or damaged discs are so full of fluid, like water balloons ready to burst. When we get up in the morning, and our spines are once again vertical, the excess of fluid in each disc begins to seep out and an hour or two after rising from bed we have returned to our normal heights.

This natural ebb and flow of water in and out of the discs is what allows the discs to obtain nutrition. Problems arise, however, when the spine remains in a horizontal position for too long.