The back is a tricky beast. All of those bones, nerves, muscles, ligaments, and tendons can sometimes add up to pain (the teeth of the beast?). At the very least, regardless of whether you suffer from chronic back pain or not, these many components can frequently add up to tightness, soreness, and decreased mobility after what should be a good night’s sleep. Sound familiar?

As a chronic sufferer, I’ve often woken in the night in excruciating pain. I’ve laid this way and that, rolled onto this side and that, kicked out this leg and that, and rarely found lasting relief. Turns out that nighttime relief isn’t necessarily for everyone. Most often I’d get up, pop pain pills/muscle relaxants, stretch, hook up my T.E.N.S. unit (article coming soon!), and hope for the best.

Your first thought may be, “Get a new mattress!” Well, I did that–more than once–and I needed something more. It turns out that many things can contribute to preexisting sources of such pain: the mattress, the pillow(s), the position(s) of the body, and surely others. It also bears mentioning that each of these things can also be the cause of such pain, whether or not you have a preexisting condition. While all of these possible contributors should be considered if you experience that dreaded A.M. discomfort, I want to offer up one solution that has helped my chronic back pain.

If you’ve kept up with my back pain-related tales to date, you know that I am a big fan of acupressure mats and foam rollers. I’m also a big fan of a nighttime bolster, which has greatly relieved my nighttime and A.M. pain. It’s a heck of a lot cheaper than a new mattress–even if it’s not nearly as trendy or glamorous as a mat or roller–and it can be a much-needed addition to any back-pain reducing arsenal.

It’s important to know that there are many “how-to’s” in relation to using a bolster. For starters, you don’t have to purchase one. When I have preexisting pain or expect my back to tighten and become painful in the night, I place two pillows under my knees and rarely have a problem. You can use pillows, several rolled up blankets, or something(s) similar to create a relatively stable bolster. Even if you desire to buy a bolster, it’s a good idea to self-create first to find out if a bit of elevation will help alleviate your pain. A couple of other how to’s involve the height and positioning of a bolster: You have to play around with both to figure out what and where works best for you.

Perhaps one day my “magic mattress” will come along. Better yet, perhaps one day my beast and its teeth (e.g. my back and its pain) will be long forgotten. Until then, I use a bolster when I need to I suffer less. I’ll reiterate that the bolster is one of several tools I use to alleviate my back pain, but it’s become an essential part of my arsenal. The glamour-factor scrapes the barrel at best, but better to “scrape” in the nighttime than to drag in the daytime, yes?


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