Posture: how to make to make the most of your sleep
Can sleep make you run faster? We spoke to Rajiv Bajekal, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon at Total Orthopaedics to find out. Read on as we discover how we can recover more efficiently and run faster.
Running and sleep
"It’s all down to our sleep posture," says Rajiv. "We spend a third of our life sleeping and it is important to get good restorative sleep for the body to repair itself. If the back hurts for longer than 5 minutes on waking up, one needs to think about the way they are sleeping. It is important to get a suitable mattress and pillow, and these are a good investment. A memory foam mattress and pillow generally work well for most people. During sleep, there is inevitably a change in posture, but it is important to get a good comfortable starting position."
It is clear that our sleep posture directly impacts our body’s ability to recover. Investing in a quality mattress and pillow is a great running recovery tip.
- A mattress should not be too hard or too soft and a single supportive pillow is probably best.
- When lying down on the back, one should be able to pass the palm of the hand under the lumbar spine although not too easily. One should not feel any pressure on the bony prominences.
- If lying on the side, it is best if the hip areas do not feel the bottom of the bed (mattress is too soft) and there should not be any pressure on the shoulders or the hips (mattress is too firm).
- A pillow should allow the chin to be in the neutral position when one lies on the back and if lying on their side, it should bring the top of the shoulder in line with the head.
It is important to be comfortable while going to sleep in your preferred position on your back, stomach, or side. It is crucial to get a comfortable mattress and pillow as outlined above in the sleep posture basics.
The spine is a structure that allows our centre of gravity to fall between our feet in the upright position and this is by virtue of curves that balance each other. Where a forward bend in the thoracic spine and sacrum, there is a reverse bend in the neck and the lower back.
Because a lot of our activities involve putting the spine into a C shape, it is easy for structural changes to occur causing muscle and ligament tightness. Attention to posture is important to prevent structural changes and long-term disability. Daily stretching and simple back exercises are useful to maintain flexibility.
Sleeping in the correct posture is one of the best ways to recover after running. View our tips and advice page to access more information on running guidance.