What is the best kind of mattress for back pain? What is the best kind of pillow/pillow setup for neck pain?

Some questions we are often asked at Kings Cross Osteopathy are related to getting comfortable at night when dealing with back or neck pain. There are no simple answers to this question and much depends on personal preference. Even with the same condition, people may not find the same relief. Here are some strategies that you may find useful.

Mattress choice: This is almost entirely up to personal preference. There are no conclusive studies on what kind of mattress is best for back pain. There is an urban myth that the Japanese don’t suffer from back pain as they sleep on the floor or a hard futon; therefore sleeping on a hard mattress is best for back pain. I can assure you that back pain is just as prevalent in Japan as any other country. In fact, there are more convincing arguments that as soft a mattress as tolerable will support the spine better than a hard one.

The theory behind the argument for soft mattresses is as follows. The heaviest points of contact with the mattress in any position (except lying completely flat, face down.) are the hips and the shoulders. Thinking of the spine as the line that connects the two structures, a harder mattress will create more side bending than the soft one that allows the shoulders and hips to sink in.

This is just a theory. Whatever positions you find comfortable is best for you.

Pillow Choice: Again, I would defer to whatever setup makes you comfortable enough to get to sleep. Some useful information here would be that supporting the neck is actually the most important function of a pillow. Whether hard or soft, the neck must be supported to allow it to be in a neutral position, as if you were upright and facing forward. Orthopaedic style pillows do this with a lump that supports the neck, and a lower platform for the head. You can recreate this effect (side lying) by using a rolled up towel to bolster the space between your shoulder and neck, and have the pillow/s behind to support the head.

Pillows between the knees can be useful for relieving back pain when on your side, and under the belly and hips when on your front. This won’t work for everyone, but worth a try.

If your back or neck pain is troubling you at night, consult Ashley or Luke at Kings Cross Osteopathy. Once your back or neck pain is diagnosed and treated, we’ll be able to advise on your specific circumstances and what will be the best way to get a good night’s rest.

What is the best training schedule for me, and how do I programme a workout?

New year resolutions bring a lot of people to the gym and, if they aren’t careful, to the clinic! It’s the same every year. Many will burn out by March, those a little more determined may last long enough to get some way towards their holiday body but drop out after June or July. Whether your goal in the gym is as non-specific as ‘Health reasons’ or you have a holiday or wedding as a deadline, the first common mistake is not setting realistic, achievable goals. First things first, you need a realistic schedule.

Everybody wants to get the most out their new gym membership, but forcing yourself to go every day is not the answer. Not only do you need rest to recover from your hard work; you can’t build a beach body or change your heath significantly in a week!

On the other hand, less than 3 gym sessions a week doesn’t leave a lot of room to make exciting changes to your body, your lack of progress will be demotivating. Find the time to invest in yourself and your workouts.

Once you have decided on how much time you can dedicate to training, you can programme your workout according to your goals. Focus on activities or exercises you enjoy, don’t force yourself to do thing you hate, look for an alternative. If your goal is to improve your health or lose weight and change the shape of your body, lifting weights/resistance work will play a more important role than cardiovascular work. If you’re training to improve your fitness, practicing that specific skill will be more important than lifting weights. Your programming should fit your goals.

Specifics of programming will vary for the individual. That said, there are three rules of thumb that are important to follow. For example, do your hardest/most complex/demanding exercise first! If you find yourself on your quest for abs, doing sit ups as your first exercise; you aren’t getting the most out of your workout for several reasons. Body composition is mostly influenced by diet, and doing a compound movement like a deadlift/squat/benchpress will recruit more muscles and have a greater metabolic effect. Squatting once you have exhausted your core isn’t the best idea either, from an injury prevention standpoint. Similarly, if you are training for a specific skill, train that before you are too tired to execute it effectively, save the resistance work for after. Make the most important adaptations first.

Another common programming error is not graduating the volume of work or the percentage of resistance appropriately. Too much, too soon is a sin. If you are too sore after your workouts, it may leave you feeling satisfied with a job well done, but it’s actually not necessary, can impede your quality of movement and potentially lead to injury.

The last part of programming people often get wrong is Diet. Ultimately, you can follow any kind of programme but unless you eat the macronutrients you need to support it; you won’t achieve your goals. If you want big muscles or strength gains, you can lift all the weights in the world, but if you don’t get around 1-2g of protein per kilo of body weight per day you won’t have the fuel to build the muscle tissue you have created the stress for. Likewise, no amount of cardio can outdo a poor diet if your goal is weight loss.

Though we have set out a few guidelines here they may not apply to everybody. For most, failure to adhere to them may at best cause poor results but at worst, injury. If you want advice tailored to your specific needs on scheduling, programming, diet or exercise; contact Ashley or Luke at Kings Cross Osteopathy for a consultation.

What is the best kind of mattress for back pain? What is the best kind of pillow/pillow setup for neck pain?

Some questions we are often asked at Kings Cross Osteopathy are related to getting comfortable at night when dealing with back or neck pain. There are no simple answers to this question and much depends on personal preference. Even with the same condition, people may not find the same relief. Here are some strategies that you may find useful. Continue reading “What is the best kind of mattress for back pain? What is the best kind of pillow/pillow setup for neck pain?”

Western Medical Acupuncture: What Is It? Is It Safe?

People are often confused when they hear the term dry needling or medical acupuncture. They often have no idea what it is, or confuse it with its Chinese Traditional counterpart. The Osteopaths at Kings Cross Osteopathy use it on a daily basis, so here is a little introduction for those that are unfamiliar with it.

Don’t worry, it won’t hurt a bit!
Continue reading “Western Medical Acupuncture: What Is It? Is It Safe?”

Why Do I Have The Posture I Have?

My patients often ask the question, ‘Why do I have the posture I have?’ Is it nature or nurture? Not an easy question to answer.

Healthy spinal curves and a ‘good’ posture will be influenced by the size and orientation of the spinal vertebra, dictated by genetics. But as an Osteopath, I know that it is possible to influence your ‘natural’ posture with treatment and specific exercises.
Continue reading “Why Do I Have The Posture I Have?”

A Quick Fix Is Never The Answer

This week I have been measuring quite a few people’s body fat levels.

I use it as a way of tracking progress for those who are looking to lose weight,

and also to find out the amount of fat a person has internally (because even skinny people can be fat inside).

Anyway one guy in his 50’s, who had the typical male middle age spread (around his belly)

clearly needed to drop some weight. Continue reading “A Quick Fix Is Never The Answer”

1 Treatment A Week For 5 Years

The other day I was introduced to a guy who had a lower back issue.

He’d been suffering with this discomfort for many years and was seeing a physio for treatment.

Pretty normal so far.

But then he told me he had been going to see this physio EVERY WEEK…

For 5 years!!

I nearly fell off my seat in disbelief!


I couldn’t help myself, I had to say the obvious thing…
Continue reading “1 Treatment A Week For 5 Years”

Are You Injured Because You’re Weak, Or Weak Because You’re Injured?

Hey Guys

It’s getting to that depressing time of the year when the weather is turning a bit nasty and my motivation to train and eat well is starting to drift out of the window

I don’t know about you but I start turning to sweet and warming food and drink as an emotional pick-me-up from the cold and wet weather.

Around this time of the year my training starts to slack of and I start to become a weaker, chubbier version of myself.

In the past this has then led to the onset of a recurring lower back issue which has caused me a lot of pain, discomfort and time off from work.

But I’m not the only one… Continue reading “Are You Injured Because You’re Weak, Or Weak Because You’re Injured?”

I’m Sorry, I Just Don’t Have Time

As a therapist, one of the worst things we can hear from a patient is;

“It’s just not getting any better”

It makes us feel like we have failed; like we are not good enough almost.

It thankfully doesn’t happen often.

A uni tutor once said to me;

“If someone isn’t getting better it’s one of three things;
– The therapy is wrong for the patient
– The practitioner
– The patient”

And you know what this is so true.
Continue reading “I’m Sorry, I Just Don’t Have Time”

Start That Monday Diet

It’s Monday!

Time to start that diet you have been promising yourself you would.

Time to start making the right decisions.

But how?

There is so much confusion information out there on diet.

What one would suit you best? What are your goals?

For example, If you are sedentary for most of your day, a high fat, high protein diet might suit you.

After all, you don’t need to “carb up” for a marathon desk session!

A sensible and organized approach is required.

Having a plan and following it is key; whether it is counting macros, Ketogenic, Paleo, Atkins or Dukan.

You WILL cheat or have bad days, but as long as you accept that when it happens and get back on it ASAP, it’s ok.

That is sustainable, and realistic. If you are at least 80% on it, you’ll succeed.

Be flexible, not just on or off. Make it a lifestyle, not a life sentence!

If you follow a diet, any diet, with specific goals, it WILL work. It’s the process, the knowledge of exactly what you are eating, that gets results. The psychology, the method, your mental approach is more important than what you are eating.

Sure, you can’t think yourself thin. But you can lose weight eating some of your favourite things, if they are correctly incorporated.

For help deciding what diet might be best for you, organizing your diet, finding out what your macronutrient requirements actually are or for any other queries, email us at