Get “Back” to Sleep

The best pillow I have found is from EZ Posture Products. The pillow has several foam layers that are different thicknesses that can be added or removed to customize the height for side sleepers. I’ve used this for years. The developer of the pillow is an ABC(TM) chiropractor who now is retired from practice and devotes his time to making supportive products for ABC(TM) patients.

Back Sleepers: If you are using an “orthopedic pillow” (thicker on one side, thinner on the other) and have any discomfort in your body while you are sleeping, an “orthopedic pillow” is not approved. Use a hand towel and fold it up several times (5-7 layers thick) and put the folded parts under your neck. Let the tail of the towel trail over the top of the mattress.

WORD OF CAUTION: If your mattress is a pillowtop or has a noticeable sag in the middle, the back-sleeping instructions do not work. If you are trying to get a comfortable night’s sleep, then use these instructions with a firm guest bed that doesn’t have a pillow top or sag.

And if your mattress is sagging, a new mattress is your next purchase. Check the warranty with your manufacturer. Many patients have gotten replacements for their sagging mattresses if the sag is more than a certain depth. While I cannot guarantee what the most comfortable mattress on the market is, I personally like Denver Mattress’s Doctor’s Choice. Many patients over many years have been satisfied as well. The price is right and the product lasts at least as long as name brands that cost 2-4 times as much.

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Worthwhile Mattresses

MATTRESSES:  Denver Mattress

Many patients have successfully taken my Doctor’s Choice recommendation.  Denver Mattress usually gets a bad rap around here.  I’m not sure why.  My mattress has held up well, but I couldn’t guarantee every unit they sell will.  For the price, it’s worth the gamble compared to the traditional brands.

My queen mattress was $400 in 2002.  Many brands are well over $1000 and upwards of $2000 or more.  And many patients have complained about needing to replace their “expensive” mattress as soon as you would expect with a “cheap” mattress, like less than 5 years. So as far as I can see in 10 years of helping patients with their sleep and choosing mattresses, the price doesn’t guarantee anything.

MATTRESSES:  King Koil

I will mention a brand that is endorsed by the International Chiropractic Association and was used throughout the MGM Grand hotel in Las Vegas at one time. (I’ve heard MGM has more rooms than any other hotel in the world, so that’s a LOT of mattresses!) It is called King Koil.  It’s not universally available.  But if you can find that, I believe it would be worth investigating.

It is interesting to note that over 10 years of trouble-shooting people’s pain while sleeping or when they wake up in the morning, that no “cream of the crop” mattress has risen to the top. Many patients have reported good results with Doctor’s Choice by Denver Mattress, though.

Tips for Better Sleep

MATTRESSES AND BAD POSTURE

Mattresses are a concern with many people who are consistently having pain when sleeping, or having more pain in the morning when they wake up.  If your pain is worse when you wake up than when you went to bed, then you really need to troubleshoot your pillow and mattress.

Correcting bad posture with ABC™ adjustments will really improve pain that gets worse with bad sleep.  Then consider the following mattress recommendations.

If your pain is still worse in the morning, experiment with a different bed in your house.   Note if your pain is better when you spend the night somewhere else.  If you consistently sleep better when you travel, or can sleep better on an alternate bed in your house, seriously consider replacing your mattress.

FIXING BAD POSTURE FOR SIDE-SLEEPERS  SOLUTION:   You own a common household item that can be used to substitute for compressible pillows:  bath towels.  Start with approximately 3 folded bath towels.  The height of towels should measure approximately the width of your shoulder to the base of your neck.

The beauty of using bath towels is they are completely adjustable at any time.  Merely peel back one or two layers of towels to get the ideal height for comfort.  The stack of towels SHOULDN’T feel hard on your head or ear.  Add or subtract one layer and re-test if it does.  You can even slide them into your pillow case for added comfort.  The pillow case also helps keep them from sliding around while you sleep.

FIXING BAD POSTURE FOR BACK SLEEPERS  SOLUTION:  For those people who sleep on their back:  use a hand towel and fold several times for the “just right” thickness to support your neck.  Don’t roll it into a cylinder though.

You will get the best results with these pillow tips when used with a firm mattress.  

Unfortunately, firm mattresses with cushy pillow tops don’t work as well with these tips for your pillow.

QUICK POSTURE TIP:
Are you waking up with your neck kind of achey? Try sleeping on your other side. As your spinal patterns shift, it can put more tension on the side you’re used to sleeping on. My comfortable side switches periodically. Also, make sure your pillow is tall enough if sleeping on your side. Make sure it is very skinny if sleeping on your back. (By the way, DON’T sleep on your stomach! This is a very good way to keep exacerbating your pain. One patient successfully used  a heating pad on her stomach to help her stay on her back throughout the night.)

Dr. Erica Approved Shoes for Atlas Patients

Wearing the proper shoes is vital in maximizing drug-free pain relief and structural correction you get from ABC™ adjustments.

ARCH SUPPORTS

If you’re considering trying the ABC™ protocol, please save yourself the expense of orthotic supports from your podiatrist or the Good Feet store (usually $400-800) until you’ve begun my care. Routinely, people abandon the orthotics after their first adjustment and RARELY resume using them.

PROPER HEEL HEIGHT

Wearing shoes with a low heel height will give a slight lift in the buttocks area–it prevents you from slumping. In the office, I do the “push test” from behind to see if the shoes make you waver or slump even more. Flip flops–your traditional “shower shoe” definitely lose out on this test! (Though I have found a few great pairs of flip flops at The Flip Flop Shop in Park Meadows Mall.  No arch AND have a heel!)

On the “flip” side of flip flops, high heels are equally bad if not worse. Many women probably adapt to regular use of high heels. However, regular use of high heels while getting adjusted with ABC™ use will cause a failed case.

HEEL HEIGHT

The Mama Bear “just right” heel height approximates the heel of a cowboy boot.  In fact, cowboy boots test out great.  They rarely have a built-in arch support and have a great heel-to-toe height ratio.

INSOLES

Don’t fear…most walking shoes and lace-up shoes can be fixed up.  The first handling is to get a flat insole.  Most shoe departments have an abundance of insole choices with “bumps” that don’t work well.  If you can’t find a good one, at least get a cheap Dr. Scholl’s sole liner.  They wear out kind of fast, but you can use it while you look for something else.

HEEL LIFTS

The next aspect is to see if your shoe has a negative heel, which simply means your toes are higher than your heels.  Negative heel results when the toe-box of the shoe curls up a bit compared to the heel.  Usually athletic shoes, walking shoes or hiker shoes have this issue.  It is important to fix your shoes as necessary to help keep your body upright. Walking shoes can usually be fixed.

Simply put in a pair of heel lifts – one in each shoe. This brings your heels up higher and lowers your toes. The ones in our office 1/8” thick and one layer in each shoe is usually adequate to overcome negative heel.  The end result is you are helping your body stay upright with every step you take instead of driving it forward into a position of pain and malfunction.  You can get the correct heel lifts from our office. They come in 3 different widths.  They are sticky and will stay in place inside of your shoe.

NOTE:  If you use the shoes for running, don’t put a heel lift in them.  It tends to throw a runner too far forward and bother them.

SPORTS-SPECIFIC SHOES & SUPPORTS

ATHLETIC ARCH SUPPORTS

If you play a sport that does NOT use walking as part of the activity, then you may use custom molded orthotics for those shoes.  For instance, cycling shoes, skiing and snow boarding all can be enhanced with a custom insole.  Even when you are not doing the activity, your walking gait is not normal so having the insole or not having it isn’t likely to hurt you.

If you play a sport where walking IS a regular part, then you MUST pay attention to this data:  i.e., golf, bowling, softball, cross training, weight-training, hiking, frisbee golf, baseball, kickball, soccer, etc.  I have seen patients who start care and forget to check their recreational shoes come in with exacerbations due to wearing the factory insole for their sport.  While we sell flat insoles that are made out of a high-density foam that can be trimmed to fit your shoes, I would recommend going to a store like Boulder Running Company to find a pair of comfort insoles for your athletic shoes.  Make sure to demand FLAT insoles with NO bumps or lumps.  The salesperson will surely try to persuade you that you need to have an arch support while you are golfing, hiking, etc.  But if you are an ABC chiropractic patient, do not be persuaded. Foot Solutions also has carried a nice pair of comfort insoles.  The “Big Box” stores rarely carry this kind of an insole.

VIBRAMS

I frequently get asked about these unusual running shoes that have a slot for each toe and conform to your foot.  One of our doctors uses these for running and so do several of our patients.  Based on feedback from other doctors in the ABC™ community and their patient’s experience, patients tolerate these shoes well for running.  Routinely people tell me you must work your way up to wearing them for longer and longer intervals or else your calves will just kill you.  I haven’t had enough patients use them for walking but my suspicion is you should reserve them for running.  If you walk in them you will be faced with “negative heel” which would make your posture worse.

At Atlas Personal Wellness, we carry heel lifts that stick to the inside of the bottom of your shoe.  One set comes with 3 pairs.  We also carry flat insoles that can be trimmed to your shoe size and shape.  For help with acquiring these products, contact orderproducts@atlaspersonalwellness.com.