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How to Choose the Best Mattress for a Bad Back

How to Choose the Best Mattress for a Bad Back

We all love a good night’s sleep, but sweet dreams can quickly turn sour when your back pain invites itself to bed with you.
Your body goes through so much during the day - whether it be sitting in an office chair for 8 hours, hunching over a laptop, or picking up after the kids - and poor posture is the biggest cause of back pain.

Sleep is a chance for your body to rest and recover, so having a mattress that doesn’t worsen your back pain or cause a sore back from the mattress altogether is important. But how do you know which one to choose?

If you find yourself asking, what is the best mattress for lower back pain? Keep reading! Let's work it out together!

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Mattress for Back Pain

Research conducted in Spain showed that people who suffered from long-term back pain had less pain when sleeping on a medium to firm mattress compared to those on softer mattresses.

Jeffrey N. Katz, M.D., Professor of Medicine and Orthopedic Surgery at Harvard Medical School, has spoken of a study done on 313 patients who suffered from lower back pain when sleeping, or lower back pain in bed in general. The findings were that those sleeping on medium to firm mattresses reported less pain when lying in bed compared with those on firm mattresses.

Woman Side Sleeping
Clearly, every human body is different, so a mattress that suits your partner or a friend might not suit you. It all stems from your spine and its natural curvature; it needs a mattress hard enough to support it in the right places, but soft enough that it doesn’t cause discomfort in other areas.

Ideally, you want a mattress that perfectly balances support with comfort and contours itself to your body so that your head, shoulders, buttocks, and feet are all in alignment and you feel no pressure at all. Arya Nick Shamie, M.D., Associate Professor of Orthopedic Surgery and Neurosurgery at Santa Monica UCLA Medical Center, has said,

“If the mattress is too firm, it will push on those main pressure points and take you out of alignment. If it's too soft, those pressure points won't be properly supported, so your whole body flops back."

It’s also important to consider your sleeping position. If you sleep on your back or stomach, a firmer mattress is usually more comfortable, whereas sleeping on your side means resting on a smaller surface area, so a softer mattress may be preferable.

How soft or firm your mattress is can be quite important to how comfortably you sleep and how supported you are through the night.  Besides your mattress causing back pain, a common question asked is "can a bed frame cause back pain?" and the answer is yes!

If you have a sprung slatted base on your bed, your mattress can feel softer due to the additional spring, and due to needing complete spine support, can ultimately cause you further back pain!


The Types of Mattresses Available

White Mattress

Open Coil/Pocket Sprung Mattresses

The support of a mattress traditionally comes from springs and coils inside it, which are then covered by padding ranging from around 7 to 18 inches deep.

Although these are very common, Shamie warns against choosing a cheap innerspring mattress, stating that if there aren’t enough springs and cushioning to properly support your body, you may well wake up with an aching back.

Foam Mattresses

Memory foam and latex mattresses don’t have any springs at all. These mattresses, particularly if they are high density, immediately mould to your body shape and can provide excellent levels of comfort while reducing pressure on the body and relieving back pain. Latex is slightly firmer than memory foam.

Hybrid Mattresses

These are a combination of innerspring and foam mattresses; they contain springs which are then covered by a layer of foam.

Orthopaedic Mattresses

These mattresses provide more support, allowing your body weight to be evenly distributed on the bed - ideal if you have back pain as it doesn’t allow your middle section to sink. They are designed to provide serious comfort while supporting your back and joints.

While you can use these as a guide, choosing the right mattress for you will always come down to personal preference.


How to Prevent Back Pain

Woman Sleeping in Bed

Aside from buying a new mattress, there are a few ways you can help alleviate back pain:

1 - Sleep on your right hand side with bent knees - it’s good for blood flow.

2 - Make sure you have a good, comfortable pillow to fill the gap between your neck and shoulder.

3 - Do some gentle stretching before you go to bed and when you get up.

4 - Work on strengthening your core. Doing yoga, Pilates, or hitting the gym, as a strong core can help reduce or prevent back pain.

5 - Preserve your mattress! You should rotate and flip it on a regular basis.

If after changing your mattress you are still experiencing back pain, it could be that you're not using your pillows correctly to support you and the position in which you sleep. Read all about how to make your pillows work for you here!

What might be a little niggle in your back now could turn into something more painful down the line, so if you’re suffering, or your mattress is sagging in the middle, (or you haven’t replaced it in… too long), take a look at the huge range of mattresses we have available.

An Orthopaedic Mattress To
Suit You