Several things can contribute to neck and shoulder pain: excessive standing, medical conditions, and poor work posture. Pillows can help alleviate pain, both during daily activities and at night when you are resting. Finding a pillow that works for you involves evaluating where your pain is, reviewing the pillow types available, and experimenting with what provides you the best rest.
Our bodies use sleep to rest and recuperate. As your metabolism slows down, you body is able to relax and heal. Without pillows that promote comfortable and supported sleeping positions, you can toss and turn all night long, never getting proper rest.
Pillows that help you sleep better are curved, with a valley that cradles your head. This reduces strain on the neck and shoulders. A "face-down" pillow lets you sleep on your stomach with your face cradled in a way that allows you to breathe; this pillow resembles a massage-table head cradle with the face area cut out. Roll pillows and full-body pillows are designed to be hugged to prevent the user's shoulders from collapsing during sleep, which would strain the neck and shoulders.
Most of us think about sitting down as a way to relax and take stress off our feet, back and neck. But if you don't sit with good posture, you could be increasing back and neck pain. Wedge pillows are used sitting in bed to give you support in an upright position. These make getting in and out of bed much easier as well, reducing strain when rising.
Whether you are sitting at a computer, driving or working at a sewing machine, keeping your back supported will reduce pain in your neck and shoulders. Lumbar supports are pillows that fit in the small of your back and maintain the spinal curvature that's required to keep your head properly erect. Although this is lumbar support, the benefit travels up the spine.
Public transportation, especially a long flight or train ride, is not an ideal place to sit and relax. Travel pillows are a great way to help keep your head supported during a catnap. These U-shape pillows, cushioned or air-filled, wrap around the back of your neck to create a resting platform for your head.
Many support pillows are made of memory foam to conform to your body contour. Although many people prefer the feel of memory foam, it transfers a lot of heat and can make you sweat. Pillows with thicker cushioning, buckwheat or even air can provide the same support you are looking for without being so hot.