What to do with bottom arm when cuddling?

Cuddling with a partner can be one of the most enjoyable and intimate activities for couples. However, figuring out what to do with the arm that’s on the bottom can sometimes be awkward or uncomfortable. Here are some quick tips to make cuddling more enjoyable for both partners:

Let it go numb

One option is to just let your bottom arm go numb! This may not sound appealing, but for many cuddlers, it’s fine to sacrifice an arm for the sake of closeness and intimacy. Just be prepared for the pins and needles sensation when you finally move it! Some couples don’t mind letting the bottom arm fall asleep if it means they can stay wrapped up in each other’s arms.

Stretch it out first

If you don’t want your arm to fall asleep, try stretching it out before settling in to cuddle. Lift your arm up over your head, rotate your wrist, and shake your hand out. This will boost circulation before you lie down. Just make sure your partner doesn’t get smacked in the process! Stretching beforehand means you can cuddle longer without losing feeling in that arm.

Bend it at the elbow

Bending your arm at the elbow joint creates enough space to allow blood flow but still lets you wrap your arm around your partner. Simply keep the arm relaxed and gently bent. This takes pressure off the shoulder and prevents the arm from being pinned in an uncomfortable position. Adjust the angle of the elbow as needed so your arm doesn’t fall asleep.

Scoot down a bit

Elevating your head on a pillow while cuddling can strain the bottom arm. Try scooting down the bed an inch or two so your head rests directly on the mattress rather than propped up at an angle. This will take tension off your shoulder and allow your bottom arm to rest more naturally rather than being pinned at a perpendicular angle to your body.

Use a pillow prop

Grab an extra pillow or two to create some space between your body and your partner’s to give your bottom arm room to breathe. Simply tuck the pillow under your arm, between your body and your partner’s. The pillow will prop up your arm at a comfortable angle without needing to bend it sharply. This prevents strain on your shoulder joint and also allows you to hold each other close.

Switch sides

The easiest way to give your bottom arm a break is to simply switch sides! If your right arm is falling asleep, have both partners roll over to the other side so you can use your left arm as the bottom arm instead. Switching sides periodically spreads out the weight and strain evenly so one arm doesn’t suffer the entire time. This is an easy fix to buy your arm some relief.

Rub her back

Put that bottom arm to use by gently stroking or massaging your partner’s back. Lightly run your fingers over her spine, making small circles with your fingertips. Many people enjoy a soft back rub while cuddling. This keeps your arm mobile rather than pinned and also gives your partner some soothing touches.

Play with his hair

Similarly, use your bottom arm to play with your partner’s hair. Twirl strands around your fingers or gently scratch his scalp with your fingernails. Not only does this feel relaxing for your partner, it keeps your arm engaged in movement rather than fixed in one place for too long. Mix up light hair strokes with stronger massage presses.

Wrap arms around her stomach

If your partner is facing away from you, wrap your bottom arm over her side and around her stomach. This cuddling position allows you to intertwine your fingers over her belly and pull her in close. Keep your elbow bent so your shoulder isn’t straining backwards. This creates a snug spooning position you can maintain for a while.

Rest hand on his chest

When cuddling face-to-face, let your bottom arm gently rest with your hand on your partner’s chest. Let your arm relax with a slight bend rather than locking it straight. Spread your fingers out over his chest with a light pressing or massaging motion. This cozy position connects you while keeping your arm relaxed.

Bend knees up

Lying flat on your back can overextend the bottom arm’s shoulder. For more comfort, bend one or both knees up slightly rather than keeping legs fully extended. This takes pressure off the shoulder joint and allows the arm to relax into a natural, pain-free position. The bent knees provide enough space to prevent over-straining the arm.

Elevate with a small pillow

Place a small, thin pillow directly beneath your elbow to keep the bottom arm propped up. The pillow should be compact enough to fit in the space between your body and your partner’s without creating separation between you. This elevation keeps your shoulder comfortable and prevents the elbow from being pinned at an extreme angle.

Switch to hand holding

Interlace your fingers together with your partner’s hand to give your bottom arm a break. Holding hands provides comfort and closeness without the strain of having an arm pinned under your body. Rubbing the palm or playing with your partner’s fingers can be soothing. Switch back to wrapping your arm around your partner once your arm feels relief.

Lie on your side

Lying on your side with your partner allows you to freely move both top and bottom arms. Your bottom arm can rest in a relaxed, natural position in the space between both of your bodies rather than being pinned beneath you. This may also stop your partner from laying directly on top of your arm so it doesn’t lose circulation as easily.

Prop your head on their arm

Have your partner stretch out the arm closest to your head and use their bicep as a pillow. This lifts your head enough to take pressure off your bottom shoulder. Meanwhile, your partner’s arm will likely fall asleep before yours! Offer to switch sides after a while so neither of you lose circulation for too long.

Spoon with gaps

When spooning, avoid holding each other too tightly. Keep some space between your bodies so your bottom arm isn’t crushed. Allow your arm to rest in the gap rather than trying to wrap fully around your partner. Bring their body closer to yours occasionally for a deeper cuddle, then relax again.

Place hand on their back

In a face-to-face cuddling position, rest your bottom hand flat on your partner’s back rather than trying to wrap your arm all the way around them. Keep the elbow slightly bent so the arm is as relaxed as possible. Gently rub up and down their back or make small circles with your palm. This limited range of motion prevents cramping.

Use a supportive pillow

Choose a soft yet supportive pillow to place under the side of your body or shoulder area. The pillow should keep that shoulder propped up enough to take strain off your upper arm and elbow. Make sure the pillow is wide and thick enough to elevate your shoulder joint. Plush down pillows work well to minimize pressure points.

Try arm above head

Rest your bottom arm up above your head rather than directly beneath you. This completely takes pressure off the shoulder and allows much better circulation. Just be careful not to knock your partner in the head with a sudden movement! You may need to bend your elbow to fit your arm above you.

Massage their neck

Using your bottom arm to massage the back of your partner’s neck delivers comfort for them while keeping your arm active. Work your thumb in circles applying firm pressure on either side of the spine. Add some lighter squeezing and rubbing movements across the shoulders too. Just be sure not to pinch any nerves too hard!

Stretch arm straight out

Extending your bottom arm straight out to the side creates more space for blood flow than pinning it directly beneath you. Stretch your arm away from your body and rest it gently on the bed rather than trying to wrap it around your partner. Just be cautious not to whack them with any sudden arm spasms!

Place arm lower on their back

When spooning or facing your partner, try resting your bottom arm lower down their back rather than up over their shoulders. This takes strain off your upper arm and elbow. Allow your forearm to make contact rather than keeping the entire arm raised. Go even lower to their waist for maximum comfort.

Check for numbness frequently

Periodically lift your bottom arm off the bed and give it a shake to check if it’s losing circulation. Adjust your position as needed each time you detect numbness or tingling setting in. By checking in frequently, you can catch numbness before it becomes severe and requires lengthy recovery time.

Do finger and wrist rolls

Roll your fingers and wrist around actively while cuddling to ward off numbness before it hits. Circle your wrist slowly one way, then back the other direction. Bend and straighten fingers as if playing a piano. Wiggling fingers boosts blood flow. Do this periodically even if arm still feels fine.

Lift arm over head briefly

Every so often, gently lift your bottom arm straight up over your head, being careful not to jostle your partner. Hold for 5 seconds then lower the arm again before it gets fatigued. Doing quick arm raises like this every few minutes provides intermittent relief from pressure.

Set a timer to change sides

Use your phone to set a repeating timer to go off every 15-20 minutes. When the alert sounds, switch which side you’re laying on to give your bottom arm a break. Changing sides consistently ensures one arm doesn’t suffer the entire cuddle session. Stretch the numb arm immediately upon changing sides.

Avoid crossing arm over midline

When wrapping your bottom arm around your partner, try not to cross it over the middle of your chest. Reaching across strains the brachial nerve. Instead, keep your arm on your same side and bend the elbow. Bring their body closer rather than over-extending your arm to hold them.

Do shoulder rolls

Roll your bottom shoulder forward and backward periodically to encourage circulation in your pinned arm. Lean slightly away from your partner so you have enough room. Circle up and down slowly several times. This motion joints and stretches the shoulder to prevent cramping.

Use cushions for elevation

Place cushions such as couch pillows, rolled towels or yoga blocks beneath your shoulder and elbow. The makeshift lift provides just enough elevation to take pressure off your joint while keeping you close to your partner. Add or remove layers to adjust the height as needed.

Try supported side position

Lay on your side holding your partner, but prop your head and knees up with pillows. Supporting the upper and lower body takes strain off the shoulder hip joints, allowing your bottom arm to relax. The pillows keep your spine aligned while you focus on the cuddling rather than discomfort.

Do partner stretches together

Incorporate shoulder and neck stretches into your cuddle routine as a way to bond. Sit facing each other and interlock hands. Gently lean away from one another to stretch out stiff muscles, then reverse. This prevents tense build-up before returning to your entangled position.

Loosen muscles first

Before getting into position, loosen up any tightness or knots around your shoulders or upper back. Have your partner gently massage the muscles or use a tennis ball against the wall to work it out yourself. This makes the bottom arm more flexible and resilient once pinned.

Keep hips stacked

When lying on your side, keep your hips stacked evenly rather than letting your top hip roll forward. Proper spinal alignment minimizes shoulder rotation. Maintain hip position by bending your knees or placing a pillow between your ankles. Keeping hips square lessens arm strain.

Avoid drastic angles

Position your bottom arm at less of an extreme, perpendicular angle to your torso. Keeping the elbow closer your body rather than straight out requires less muscular effort. prop your head on a pillow if needed to bring your shoulder joint into a more natural position.

Do not hyper-extend

Resist forcing your bottom arm into an overly extended reach that pulls on the shoulder joint. Stop just short of full extension to keep the muscles relaxed. Bend the elbow and stop reaching once you make contact with your partner’s body instead of straining further.

Apply gentle pressure

Use your bottom arm to apply gentle pressure on your partner rather than just letting it lie motionless. Try a soft squeezing motion around their waist or shoulders. Or gently scratch their back with your fingertips. Just avoid applying so much pressure that it causes shoulder tension.

Keep wrist straight

Pay attention to your bottom wrist positioning to prevent pinching nerves or tendons. Try to keep the wrist relatively straight, avoiding extreme bending up or down. You may need to adjust your elbow placement to get the right wrist alignment.

Strengthen muscles beforehand

Build strength in your shoulders, chest and upper back with exercises like planks, push-ups and rowing motions. Stronger muscles endure being pinned during cuddling without fatiguing as quickly. Stop exercise at least 2 hours pre-cuddle so muscles aren’t already exhausted.

Adjust pillow thickness

Use a thicker pillow to prop up your head if the angle is straining your bottom shoulder. Or try a thinner pillow if propping up your head too much hyper-extends your arm. Find the sweet spot pillow height that minimizes joint strain. Down or foam pillows mold to your shape.

Avoid twisting torso

Prevent straining your bottom shoulder by keeping your torso squared rather than twisted. When you twist towards your partner, it rotates the shoulder joint into an awkward position. Face each other fully rather than lying at an angle.

Do nerve glides

Help relieve trapped nerve tension by doing nerve glide stretches for your arms and hands. Roll your shoulder forward while extending your arm, then reverse back to start. Repeat this shoulder circling 5-10 times to free up pinched nerves.

Have partner lift arm

When your bottom arm starts falling asleep, have your partner gently lift it a few inches off the bed and hold for 30 seconds before lowering again. This gives temporary relief and restores normal sensation. Do a few repetitions, then switch roles.

Keep extra pillows nearby

Stash a few small, firm pillows within reach of the bed to adjust as needed. If your bottom shoulder gets uncomfortable, grab a pillow and prop under your arm for quick relief until you switch positions again. Easy tweaks prevent major numbness.

Get shoulder massages

Incorporate shoulder massages into your pre-bedtime routine. Have your partner rub and knead around your shoulder blades and neck before cuddling up. This relaxes muscles that will be pinned under your body weight later. Use lotion to reduce friction.

Stretch palms down

Extend both arms straight out, palms down towards the bed. Hold for 20 seconds then release. Rotate your wrists so palms face up and repeat. Stretching your arms palms-down opens the chest muscles and shoulders before cuddling.

Consider ergonomic pillows

Special contoured pillows can provide optimal support and alignment for side sleeping and cuddling. Look for options with an indented center to cradle your head and raised edges to support shoulders and neck at natural angles.

Evaluate cuddle positions

Reflect after each cuddling session and take note of which positions caused arm discomfort. Then proceed cautiously or avoid those problematic poses next time. Stick to positions that allow both partners to keep their bottom arms relatively relaxed.


Cuddling should be an enjoyable bonding experience, not an exercise in physical agony! If numbing and tingling becomes too much, don’t hesitate to lovingly ask your partner to switch positions or give your arm a break. With some forethought and these tips, you can find cozy, close sleeping arrangements that work for both of you!

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