All About Pillows Frequently Asked Questions

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I am 6 months pregnant and my back is sore under my shoulder blades, unlike the usual lower back pain. I work at a computer all day and it is very painful. I plan to start having massages but am unsure if that will help or not.
It is very common for pregnant women to have upper back pain as well as lower back pain.  As your tummy is starting to grow now, the center of gravity of your body is shifting and your posture is changing accordingly.  These changes in posture create new stresses on your spine, ribs and muscles that can result in discomfort.
Good postural support can help to ease this discomfort.  I would suggest using a Lowback Backrest Support, or depending on your body size, you may want to use a Wideback, which is simply wider.  By supporting the lumbar (low back) curvature you actually help to correct the posture of your entire spine, including your upper back and neck. You mentioned that you might go for massage, which is often helpful.  I would also consider seeing a chiropractor who can address alignment issues related to your changing posture.

I find that my shoulders are always slouching forward.  Is there a product that can help me get proper alignment, so that my shoulders are back?
Yes, there is a product that can help to bring your shoulders back.  A Lower Backrest can help you with your shoulder posture. The reason that these can help is that the posture of your upper body follows that of your lower back.  When you sit upright with your lower back supported you should find that your upper back is more upright with your shoulders back and your head in line with your shoulders.  In other words, getting your shoulders to shift back likely involves a correction of your overall posture.  This can be facilitated with a Backrest Support, which supports the lumbar curvature of your lower back.  Correcting posture requires knowledge, self-awareness and conditioning.  In addition to your Backrest Support and awareness of good posture, it may be helpful to do some specific exercise that will help to strengthen weak muscles and stretch tight ones to bring your posture back into balance.   

What is the proper sitting position for driving a car?
The proper position for driving is the position that puts the least stress on your body.  This varies slightly from person to person but there are some general rules to follow.  Adjust your seat so that your thighs are horizontal or slightly higher than your hips. If driving standard, position your seat so that you can comfortably depress the clutch without over stretching. If driving automatic, use the accelerator to determine your seating position.Your lower back should sit against the back of your seat and may be aided by the support of a backrest such as a Lower Backrest Support. Tilting the back of your seat just slightly back of vertical helps to reduce compression on the lower spine. Your head should be balanced over your shoulders, not bent forward, chin tucked in. Your shoulders should be square and relaxed. Elbows should be relaxed with both hands comfortably reaching the steering wheel. Sitting can be the most stressful posture for the lower spine. Prolonged sitting places a lot of stress on the body and reduces important circulation that muscles and other tissues require. Altering the position of your seat by an inch or two on long drives from time to time will adjust your posture and relieve the strain on muscles that are being overworked.  More importantly, remember to stop, walk around and do some stretching at least once an hour.  

Is it better to use heat or cold for my back pain?
Whether you use heat or cold therapy depends on your individual circumstance.   Generally speaking, it is always prudent to use cold therapy on an acute injury such as a pulled muscle.  This is because cold will reduce the inflammation associated with such an injury whereas heat can actually make it worse.  Cold therapy tends to reduce pain, inflammation and muscle spasm.  Cold should be used for the first two or three days until the inflammatory cycle resolves, and anytime the injury is re-aggravated thereafter.  Always apply ice or a frozen gel pack over a thin cloth or T-shirt to prevent your skin from getting frostbitten.  Ten minutes is usually adequate, not more than 15 minutes.  This may be repeated twice an hour initially, and several times throughout the day.   Heat can be used to relieve tired, achy muscles.  It encourages circulation, clearing away muscle toxins and bringing fresh oxygen and nutrients to healing tissues.  Again, 10 to 15 minutes is adequate.  Rest and relax, give your injury adequate time to heal. 

What does the term “temperature sensitive foam” mean?
The visco-elastic foam or “memory foam” used in some pillows is dense foam that cushions your body and actually moulds to your body to greatly reduce pressure points such as those on your hips, shoulders and head.  While it was originally developed for NASA, visco-elastic foam has been used in the medical industry for years to help alleviate pressure points and increase patient comfort.  This type of foam is temperature sensitive, meaning that it softens under warmer temperatures.  This is how it acts to alleviate pressure where it contacts the skin’s surface, providing greater comfort. 

What kind of pillow should I purchase if I have re-occurring headaches when I wake up in the morning?
It is important in dealing with an ongoing problem to consult a qualified health care practitioner.   Though I cannot prescribe the exact pillow over the internet, I would say that you should look at a pillow that is different than what you are using, quite possibly a foam pillow with a cervical contour for your neck.  Waking up with neck pain or headaches is often a result of poor sleep posture, so this may help.  Generally speaking, a pillow should act to support the spine in its natural position.  When lying on your back, the pillow should support the C-shaped curvature of your neck without over-elevating your head, which causes your neck to become straightened.   When lying on your side, the pillow should keep your neck in straight alignment with the rest of your spine.  This allows the muscles of your neck to remain in a balanced and relaxed posture.   It is not recommended to sleep on your stomach as it forces your neck to bend backwards and turn to one side.  This puts a lot of stress on the joints and muscles of the neck and spine.   Depending on your body size and type, a pillow of ideal shape and density can be selected to help make your sleep more comfortable.  In any case, it may take two or three weeks to get used to your new pillow.  

Which Backrest is best for lower back pain?
All Backrest Supports are ideal for lower back pain.  There are different models to suit different body types and needs. 
The right backrest is the one that provides you with the best support and comfort.  Lower Backrest Support will suit most people.  A Higher Backrest Support has an additional extension for you head and neck and is ideal for driving, especially if your car does not have adequate headrest support that extends to the top of your head.  If you are a broader person, the Wide back Backrest Support may be necessary for wider support.  Another option is an AIR pillow, which allows you to pump up the lumbar pad to provide custom support.  This may allow you to find just the right amount of postural correction for you back.   

What is the correct way to sit when using a Backrest? 
Good posture varies slightly from person to person, as our bodies are as individual as our fingerprints. Proper sitting posture requires that you maintain the natural curvatures of your spine.  Support the natural curvatures of the spine, minimizing stress on the muscles and joints of your body.   A few simple guidelines can help to complement the effectiveness of your backrest:   Keep your thighs horizontal, or knees slightly elevated, feet flat on the floor or on a footrest.  Your lower back should be supported by the lumbar curve or the backrest.  Your head should be balanced over your shoulders, not bent forward.  Your shoulders should be square and relaxed back.
 Armrests can help to support the weight of your arms and keep your forearms parallel to your work surface or keyboard. Stagnant posture puts undue stress and strain on the body and minimizes circulation – remember to get up regularly, move around and stretch.  

Every night I wake up due to lower back pain, what can I do?
If you haven’t already, I would first suggest that you consult a medical doctor or chiropractor. Back pain felt at night has many origins, some serious, some not. They can take a proper history, and examine you to determine the nature of your back pain. They may also want to take x-rays for diagnostic purposes.   Another factor to consider when dealing with back pain at night is your bed. The quality of your bed or mattress and the degree of support it offers you may be an issue that needs to be addressed.   In any case, I stress the importance of consulting with a medical doctor or chiropractor. More serious problems need to be ruled out when dealing with night pain that wakes you up. 

My back cracks all the time and it doesn’t hurt or feel uncomfortable in any way, in fact I feel better afterwards but I’m worried I might be overdoing it. Is this a good or a bad thing to do?   I’m healthy and have had no prior back problems!
Your spine is an amazing motion machine! It supports you while allowing you a great amount of mobility and flexibility. The 24 vertebrae in the spine and the many joints between them each contribute a degree of mobility to the whole spine in a delicately balanced arrangement. Cracking your own back too much could cause too much mobility in specific areas of your spine and create problems in the future by putting the amazing motion machine out of balance. This also affects the muscles whose job it is to move and balance the spine.   I wouldn’t worry about your spine making some cracking noises on its own, but I would not make it a habit to “crack” your own spine. Leave that to a qualified chiropractor, they know precisely which joints need to be adjusted to put the spine into good balance! 

I have severe sciatica. Can you suggest something for driving a car?
There are many causes for “sciatica”, and it is important to properly diagnose the cause in your case to allow for the most effective treatment approach.   I have found that many of my patients obtain significant relief by using a Backrest support. This is because the back support helps to maintain the proper curvatures of the spine, reducing compressive forces on the discs and allowing the back muscles to sit in a more relaxed and comfortable position.    It is important that the back support provides sufficient support in the lumbar (lower) area of your spine. You may need to use a lumbar pad that comes with your backrest to provide additional support. 

I have muscle pain in my upper back and low back pain.  How do I know which product to purchase?  
If you are dealing with ongoing pain it is advisable that you consult a health care physician.  This may help you to understand the cause and source of your pain, if you have not already done so.   Good posture can often alleviate pain by easing the burden on the muscles and other supporting tissues of the back.  Good posture starts by supporting and maintaining the curvature of the lower back.  By supporting the lower back (lumbar area), your posture is corrected to a more upright position, relieving strain on the muscles of the lower back, upper back and neck.  All Backrest Supportswork by providing lower back support and cradling the entire back.  Because Backrest Supports offer this correction, you may find any of them helpful in relieving your upper back pain as well as your lower back pain.

I have been having a lot of problems with my sciatic nerve.  I have a lot of discomfort in sitting, especially while driving.  I am looking for relief, but was wondering what I should actually be looking for, can you help?  
Firstly, if you have not already consulted a health care professional about your sciatic nerve problem, I would advise you to get it checked out.  You need to have a good idea of what you are dealing with before you can properly address it.   You may get significant relief by using a Backrest Support.  By supporting the curvature of your lower back and the alignment of your pelvis, a Backrest Support can often alleviate pain from any number of back problems. It is also important for the alignment of your pelvis and lower back that you have a firm surface to sit on.

How do I clean/wash my pillows?

We recommend that you only air your pillow. Foam pillows: if submerged in light-detergent warm water, can be squeezed dry but as foam contains thousands of isolated cells it may take days or even weeks to completely dry out … so a full hand wash in water is a last resort. Do not spin dry! We recommend that you dab clean a soiled area and dry in a breezy spot away from direct sunlight. Polyfill and feather pillows: if you need to clean the cover, then remove the contents away from any breeze, and dry/air separately. Feathers can be hand washed, but the drying process in an airy environment is a delicate process. Polyfill can be hand washed, but you will lose some loft after natural drying, but this can always be supplanted with some replacement fiber available from your local haberdashery.

 

My old pillow seems OK. Why should I buy a new one?

It is a fact of life that with use your pillow, no matter the quality, will gradually soften over time. This results in insufficient or uneven support under the neck and head, possibly resulting in spinal distortion during sleep. It may be time to upgrade!

How long does is take to become adjusted to sleeping on an contoured pillow?

Your contoured pillow is designed to offer the most comfortable, anatomically correct sleep available. In most cases people are very comfortable the very first night. In some cases, however, the sleeper has gotten used to sleeping in an incorrect position for so long that the correct position may feel a bit strange at first. This should correct itself within a week or two, allowing your body to rest properly.

How do I care for my pillows?

If it is foam then keep it away from direct sunlight and air it at least once or twice a month to ensure that it maintains its ‘freshness’. Also, with foam pillows avoid sleeping in exactly the same position on the pillow when you prepare for sleep. This will ensure that the pillow softens over a greater area and over a longer period, and thus extends the life of the pillow. With polyfill or feather pillows, direct sunlight is recommended once or twice a month. Direct sunlight will not affect the composition of these two varieties of pillows.

 What are the healthiest sleeping positions?
Side sleeping or back sleeping. To give your body the proper rest it needs, and to ensure the correct maintenance of your cervical spine (neck), most health specialists prefer side sleeping so long as the spine is evenly supported; or on your back, maintaining the natural curvature of the spineBoth of these positions will help prevent “subluxation”, or misalignment of the neck, but of course both positions are only as good as the mattress and pillow that you are sleeping on. Spinal distortion can result in any sleeping position if the load is not evenly distributed and the natural curvature of the spine is not maintained.
Sleeping on your stomach? It can create stress on your back and neck depending on your physique, but if you do choose to sleep this way, then a low or no pillow is recommended as the best option. 

What is the TriCare: Circle of Health?
The TriCare: Circle of Health represents the continuous nature of health. It was created to help reduce the confusion of selecting the right orthopedic cervical pillow for your needs. Each product is designated with the stages of health that the product provides. The three stages of health are:

Accomodate, which helps provide comfort by conforming to and stabilizing the existing condition or disorder. This would help a person suffering from an injury feel comfortable. Typically displacement pillows work well at this stage.

Correct, which helps eliminate symptoms by treating the cause of the disorder and restoring good health. These pillows are more supportive and help in resolving the cause of pain and reestablishing proper alignment. Corrective pillows can help alleviate headaches, neck muscle and joint strains, arthritis, whiplash discomfort, and help restore proper nerve function.

Maintain, which helps ensure good health by sustaining the body in its proper, natural state. These pillows provide maximum support and comfort in order to ensure continued good health by helping sustain the body in its proper, natural alignment.

What size pillow should I order?
Most of our pillows are created to be adjustable or provide different support levels to fit various needs. For those pillows that require a size to be ordered, it is best to consult with your healthcare professional for a proper fit.

Is there anything I should do to adapt to sleeping on a cervical pillow?
If you are new to using a cervical pillow, your body may require some time to adapt, possibly a couple of weeks. When using the fiber pillows for back sleeping, start by using the smaller lobe. After several weeks, turn the pillow around and use the wider lobe, if needed. For side sleeping, use the raised sides. With foam, begin by using the pillow with the lobes down, sleeping on the flat side. This allows your body to gradually adjust to a cervical pillow. After several weeks, turn the pillow lobes up and sleep on the lobe that provides the best support while still being comfortable.

How do I wash my fiber pillow?
You should never wash a Core fiber pillow in a machine. ALWAYS WASH BY HAND using the following steps:
1. Thoroughly soak the pillow in a sink or tub filled with lukewarm water and a small amount of mild detergent.
2. Press or flush water through the pillow until clean.
3. Press out excess water.
4. Rinse in clear water to remove detergent and any remaining soil.
5. Press out excess water and allow to dry flat. DO NOT HANG OR FILLING WILL SETTLE.
6. Refluff when thoroughly dry by punching on the diagonals.


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