Sometimes, shoulder pain can easily be traced back to the source, like an accident or sports injury, but things aren’t always so cut and dry—especially if you’re sleeping through what’s causing the pain. It turns out that some sleep positions can actually wreak havoc on our shoulders, leading to chronic, long-lasting discomfort.

Could healing achy shoulders be as easy as switching up the way you sleep? Here are some tips that can help.

Sleeping on Your Side

Putting undue stress on the shoulders often translates to muscle pain and sore tendons. Sleeping predominantly on your side does exactly that. Think about it: settling into this position for the night means putting all your weight on your shoulders for hours on end. Whenever possible, be mindful of sleeping on your back—it’s actually the most shoulder-friendly sleep position.

If you’re a helpless side-sleeper, opt for an ergonomic pillow that takes the tension off your shoulders. Most are inclined in some way to create space for the weight-bearing shoulder.

Opting for a Mattress that’s Too Hard

An overly firm mattress is anything but shoulder-friendly, especially if you’re accustomed to sleeping on your side. If your mattress doesn’t have much give to it, then your shoulders aren’t very well protected from your body weight. Experts say that memory foam mattresses are the most effective at preventing both hip and shoulder pain because they match the individual contours of your body, which should help keep your spine in a neutral position through the night.

Forgetting to Stretch

Getting in the habit of stretching can help relieve pain and tension, triggering shoulder pain relief in the process. Doing so before bed and again in the morning is your best bet. Chin retractions, neck rolls, shoulder rolls, neck stretches, and shoulder rotations are among the most effective. Why include neck stretches in your routine? The neck, spine and shoulders are all intimately connected, and addressing one area tends to impact the others.

Ignoring Chronic Shoulder Pain

If your shoulder pain isn’t getting better, despite lifestyle changes like modifying your sleeping habits, it’s likely time to get an expert opinion. In some cases, exploring physical therapy or a guided yoga or stretching practice can make all the difference.

The good news is that chronic shoulder pain isn’t something that automatically necessitates surgery. Health Star is committed to delivering effective, non-surgical shoulder pain treatments.