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By Dr. Sandeep Kalirah, BSc, DC

Pillow Recommendations

One of the most common questions I get in my Chiropractic office is, “What type of pillow should I be using?”  Well, whenever a patient asks me about a pillow, the only suggestion I ever make is the water pillow.  The reason I recommend the water pillow so much is because it is a custom pillow.  This means that it does not follow a “one size fits all” recipe; you decide how firm or how soft the pillow should be, based on your own comfort and needs.

Each pillow comes with a spout that allows you to fill water into the pillow.  The more water you fill into the pillow, the firmer the pillow becomes; the less water, the softer.  Then, when you lie down on top, the water moves instantly, evenly distributing to surround the weight and contours of your head and neck.

The pillows are made out of durable material, so you don’t have to worry about getting wet.  They are also completely sanitary; you don’t have to worry about changing the water.

Of course, it will take a few uncomfortable nights to decide just how much water is right for you.  But after experimenting with the water levels, I am sure each patient can achieve the perfect pillow for their needs!

I am familiar with three companies that manufacture and distribute water pillows:

1)      Mediflow/Chiroflow

2)      Obusforme

3)      EmbraceAir

You may purchase these pillows from most rehabilitation/chiropractic/physiotherapy clinics, and in some cases, your insurance may be willing to reimburse you for the costs associated; please check with your insurance provider for more information.

Mattress Considerations

When selecting a mattress, I’d like for my patients to consider two principles:

  1. Comfort
  2. Support


When selecting a mattress, it is always a good idea to practice 10 Minute Test Drive.  10 Minute Test Drive is similar to test driving a car; “Drive before you buy.”  Lie down on the mattress for approximately 10 minutes.  If you feel comfortable and don’t toss and turn too much, this mattress may be the perfect bed for you.


When you lie down on your side or back, you should feel your spine remains straight. If at any point you feel you’re sinking into the bed or that the bed is caving in around you, this mattress is not the appropriate bed.

Types of Mattresses:

Generally speaking, there are four main types of mattresses:

  1. Firm
  2. Plush
  3. Memory Foam
  4. Pillow Top

1. Firm
Firm mattresses have flat-tops with no extra padding or layers on top.  Traditionally, firm to medium-firm mattresses has always been recommended for the relief of lower back pain.  However, because firm beds are generally supportive, I recommend my patients always “Test Drive” to make sure they are also comfortable.  Finding a good balance of support and comfort is vital when selecting a firm mattress.
2. Plush
Plush mattresses are among the softest beds on the market; however, the extra foam layering above the coils provides a lot of comforts but very little support. Therefore, I generally do not recommend plush beds and ask my patients to stay away from them.  Over time, patients with plush beds do usually develop spinal pain.
3. Memory Foam
A neat fact about Memory Foam is that it was created by NASA for the space program.  It never did “take-off” but lucky for us, it ended up in mattresses instead.  Made from polyurethane, memory foam mattresses are firm in cool temperatures and soft in warm temperatures.  This is what allows the mattress to mold to the contours of a warm body, providing support.  Keep in mind, it does take approximately 10-15 minutes for the mattress to completely respond to the body’s heat.  If you toss and turn at night, this may pose a challenge when it comes to comfort.  Memory foam is also available as foam overlays or toppers, to place over a pre-existing mattress.
4. Pillow Top
Pillow top mattresses are probably the most common mattress out there, and one that I commonly recommend for comfort.  These mattresses have an extra layer of padding attached to the top, to provide additional comfort.  Support varies for a pillow-top mattress, therefore, like a firm mattress, it is very important to “Test Drive” and make sure your spine does not sink into the mattress.

Dr. Sandeep is accepting new patients at the Pacific Wellness on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. She offers 15 min. complementary consultations (Exams and Adjustments not included). Please call us at 416-929-6958 to take advantage of this exclusive offer.