Why Does My Back Hurt After Sleeping in a Hammock? (And How To Stop It)

Cartoon of Steve in front of laptop with cup of tea

Have you ever slept in a hammock, initially felt quite comfortable, but then after a while, some pain creeps in?

Sleeping in a hammock is usually pretty satisfying. Its flexibility provides equal pressure on all parts of your body, in fact sometimes, it feels like you’re being hugged as the material molds your body. 

The comfort it provides plus the gentle swaying correspond to a good day’s or night’s rest, but sometimes it isn’t always the case.

So, why does my back hurt after sleeping on a hammock? That’s what we’re here to discuss. 

Let’s begin. 

If you are finding sleeping or resting in a hammock is not as comfortable as you want it to be, several factors could be to blame, including wrong positioning and angling of the hammock. Or perhaps you lacked support while in the hammock or the material the hammock is made of is not the most comfortable kind. When correctly set up, a hammock should not hurt your back.

Why Do Hammocks Hurt My Back?

Sleep is an essential part of our daily life, and we generally find a good position to help us get into a deep slumber. For some, hammocks provide great comfort that leads to some sweet dreams. 

However, there are times when it can hurt your back. 

Generally, it’s not “sleeping in a hammock” per se that hurts your back. There are a few reasons that might be causing it, and we will discuss them here one by one:

1. You Are Not Lying in the Hammock Correctly

There is a proper position for a hammock so that you will be ultra comfortable and not feel pain even after spending hours in it.

You must sleep diagonally across the hammock. It’s the most comfortable position because it gives you enough space to stretch. 

Aside from following the proper positioning, you also need to listen to your body. You need to find a position that is pleasant to your body. 

2. You Did Not Hang the Hammock Properly

You might think that hanging a hammock is just putting one end around a tree and putting the other end on another. There is actually a science to it, that is if you want optimum comfort and not hurt your back. 

First, the hanging distance must be around two feet more than the total length of the hammock. 

Second, you need sturdy posts that can carry the weight of a person or multiple people in a hammock.

Trees would be the preferred posts but if they are not available, then you need to buy something like a hammock stand.

Third, the hammock must be hung at a 30-degree angle.

Why? It provides a good center of gravity while also allowing you to find the best position for yourself. 

3. Your Hammock’s Material May Not Be the Most Comfortable

Hammock and tree

Hammocks can be made from a variety of materials. Most of them are comfortable and won’t give you any pain. But there are others that are not as great.

There are also hammocks that are made for sleeping, and these are the best for your back. 

The following are the most popular materials for hammocks:

  • Cotton

Soft and breathable, cotton is the most popular fabric for hammocks. It is affordable, too, and you can choose many different patterns, designs, and colors. You can find one that best suits your personality. As far as your back goes, cotton hammocks are comfortable and okay for your back. 

  • Nylon

A synthetic material that is durable and ideal for outdoor use. Nylon is also lightweight, which means you can easily pack it up and take it with you on vacations. However, it’s not as gentle on your skin, in case you have sensitive skin. But when it comes to comfort, nylon is good. 

  • Polyester

Hammocks made of polyester or a blend of polyester and cotton are moisture-wicking and durable. It’s also quite expensive. While a polyester hammock still gives you comfort, it’s not as soft as cotton. A few people may experience back pain when they sleep on it for a long period or on consecutive days. 

  • Rope

Rope material is made of cotton or synthetic fibers that are twisted or braided together to create a thick and durable product. Rope hammocks are very affordable. However, it may be the hammock that may cause the most back discomfort because the ropes can create pressure points in your body.

4. You Do Not Have Adequate Support While Sleeping

To reduce the chances of back pain, support your body when lying in the hammock.

You can use a pillow to support your neck and another under your knees. Pillows are great aids for your back.

Do Hammocks Hurt or Help Your Back?

Person in hammock tied to two trees

Generally, hammocks are favorable to your back.

They will only hurt if you don’t have the right position and support, when the hammock is improperly hung, and it’s the wrong type of material. 

There are several ways where hammocks can help your back:

1. They Relieve Pressure Points

According to Healthline, sleeping on a mattress will put more pressure on your back, shoulders, and butt.

A satisfactory mattress like a memory foam or latex foam is great at reducing pressure on those areas or pressure points. However, a low-quality mattress will trigger pressure points. 

A hammock, on the other hand, relieves pressure points because of its flexibility. The pressure is distributed to all parts of the body as the hammock molds onto your natural curves.

2. They Encourage Deep Sleep

It all boils down to sleep. 

Sleep is an important part of life, physically, mentally, and emotionally. 

Sleep comes with many health benefits because it allows your body to recuperate from the rigors of the day.

The right amount of sleep will keep you mentally alert the whole day. And when you experience deep sleep, you’ll find that you are in a better mood. 

Now, the hammock, in most cases, will promote deep sleep. The gentle rocking of the hammock will let you sleep faster and deeper. 

So, are hammocks healthy to sleep in?

Yes! Because if sleep is good and you can achieve better quality sleep in a hammock, then it means that sleeping in a hammock is healthy.

When you’re healthy, then the hammock is certainly helping your back. 

3. They Decrease Back Pain

While there is no research that proves this is the case, hammock enthusiasts proclaim they love sleeping on hammocks because it’s better for their backs.

Are Hammocks Good for Lower Back Pain?

People suffering from back pain may think that sleeping on your stomach will provide relief since you are not putting pressure on the spine. That is not right! 

Spine surgeon Dr. Stefano Sinicropi said that the ideal sleeping position is always on your back. When you sleep on your stomach, your front sinks deep into the mattress because of your weight.

As a result, your spine is no longer in a neutral position, which could cause back pain or may exacerbate existing lower back pain. 

In other words, when you have lower back pain, sleeping in a hammock is ideal. It will not arch your spine and your pressure points are not stressed. 

However, the best thing to do is to see a doctor when you are experiencing lower back pain. Then you can ask them if it’s okay to continue sleeping in a hammock. 

Are Hammocks Good for the Spine?

Hammocks are typically okay for the spine. 

In a blog, Dr. Sean McCance, a board-certified orthopedic spine surgeon said:

Back pain often leads to discomfort, which can disrupt your sleep cycle and even prevent you from getting to sleep at all. It is important to keep in mind that a strong, supportive hammock that is properly hung is the best option for easy relaxation. Flimsy or smaller versions can lead to lower back pain, so it’s best to avoid those at all costs.

Other FAQs About Hammocks

Rope hammock in forest

Do Hammocks Hurt Your Neck?

Sleeping in a hammock is not always great for everybody and if there is one negative consequence, it’s a stiff neck.

But the thing is, a stiff neck is all about positioning.

You may get it because your neck was in an awkward position for a long time.

Use a pillow when you sleep in a hammock to support your neck.

Are Hammocks Good for Arthritis?

While there are no studies that prove hammocks are good for arthritis, many hammock experts and enthusiasts seem to think so.

Arthritis refers to the swelling or inflammation of the joints and other ailments that pertains to the joints and the tissues connecting them.

Hammocks tend to relieve any strain on your joints.

Is Sitting in a Hammock Healthy?

Sitting in a hammock is okay, but don’t do it for a long time. It’s better to lie in it rather than sit because it could affect posture.

Hammocks are designed for lying, and it’s good for your back that way. Sitting on it will put you in an awkward position, especially with all the movements.

But if you really want to sit in a hammock, there are hammock chairs available on the market.

They are hammocks designed for sitting, which means the material will mold into your body when you sit in it.

Final Thoughts

INFOGRAPHIC Answering the Question Why Does My Back Hurt After Sleeping in a Hammock
Click infographic to enlarge.

Hammocks are fun to have at home, you could use them indoors or outdoors. They also have major benefits as they encourage faster and better sleep. 

Why? Because the material hugs you while swaying. And because it molds around your body, it’s great for your back since it relieves your body’s pressure points. 

The next time you’re stressed from work and need a relaxing slumber, think about getting a hammock. 

As long as you get it set up properly, and at the right angle it is sure to be good, rather than bad, for your back!

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