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Which Is The Best Mattress For Back Pain?

October 05, 2019 By Sandeep Prasad

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Back pain is universal these days and more common than we think. It has become age agnostic with even kids complaining of it. What is more surprising is the fact people wake up with upper, middle or lower back pain every day without having a clue that it is caused by their poor mattress. Sleeping on an uncomfortable mattress will not only give you back pain, it will also interrupt your sleep, affecting your focus and sleep quality

Back pain infographic

If you suffer from back pain, being able to get a decent night’s sleep can make a world of difference, and having the best mattress for back pain can set you on the right path.

“Sleep is when we have most of our cell growth and repair, so set yourself up for a good night’s rest and expect to wake up rejuvenated and refreshed” -David Coppola, a chiropractor and holistic doctor in Key Largo, Florida.

Here’s a great checklist to tick off when choosing the best mattress for back pain:

Ample Spinal cord support: One of the most common pains prevalent among sufferers is the lower back pain. Though the pain is more pronounced in the lower back, at times it can radiate from the neck down and travel till the extremity of the spinal cord. Always remember not all mattresses you come across are orthopedic mattress for back pain.

You can do a simple DIY test to examine if your mattress provides ample spine support. Make sure when you lie down on your bed, your body gets continuous support and is in full contact with the mattress. This ensures that your body weight is evenly distributed, with no area left hanging or without support. The right mattress for lower back pain should cater to the entire surface area of your body that comes in contact with the mattress. This will keep your spine in a straight line, as it should be. 

Firm and/or soft mattress: The mattresses available in the market have a wide range of softness or firmness. You might find a ‘firm’ labelled mattress to be soft, and a so called ‘soft’ mattress to be firm when used. 

However, if you find your current soft mattress giving back aches, then it signals it’s time for a more firmer mattress, that would support your body more appropriately than the softer one. On the other hand, be sure not to select a mattress that is too firm, which would only be counterproductive especially when buying the best mattress for chronic pain.

Now a question might pop in your mind. 

How do I find a good mattress for back pain?

To answer that question, let’s study three different kinds of mattresses, and find which one works best to relieve back pain.

Latex mattress: A 100% latex mattress performs well for those who naturally sweat a lot while sleeping. This is attributed to its pin cores which provide sweat relief throughout the night. The spongy material is somewhat firmer than required and ends up pushing the body upwards, thereby finds it difficult to adjust itself to your natural body contour. Therefore, it doesn’t help much in relieving pressure, while trying to ensure spinal alignment. The frustrating part is the maintenance it requires as it absorbs moisture from the atmosphere and starts degrading slowly with time. The latest in sleep tech however offers a unique combination of high grade memory foam and latex that gives a weightless feel and floats you to sleep.

Spring mattress: Pocket spring mattresses are a combination of thousands of individual springs that supports the contours of the body gently. Pocket spring mattresses are recommended for people who love sleeping on a very soft mattress. The downside is when you lie on this mattress, you will feel almost 30% of your body sink into the mattress. This starts getting uncomfortable in the longer run and doesn’t come close to the superiority of memory foam.

Memory foam mattress: Since it is extremely vital to maintain spinal cord alignment when sleeping, memory foam mattresses are highly recommended. Memory foam provides optimal lumbar support and eliminates back pain. This is done by keeping your spine aligned with the mattress, as it should be, without any gaps in between. 

A high density memory foam base layer combined with a plush memory foam cream layer gives a medium firmness feel that makes it the best mattress for back pain.

From the above study, we concur that the ideal mattress for back pain is one that is not too soft, nor too firm, the signature quality attribute of memory foam. Memory foam mattresses minimize the stress that accumulates on the spine, and thereby prevents back pain.

Finding the best mattress for back pain is a great first step. But remember not every mattress is a magic pill for every sore back. Here it’s very important to choose the mattress that best supports your particular sleep style. Here’s how:

Evaluate your sleeping position 

Whether you’re searching for the best mattress for lower back pain or upper back pain, always observe the sleeping position your body favors. This will guide you in the right direction when zeroing in on the most effective mattress.

A significant US medical journal study found immediate improvements in both pain and stiffness when subjects switched to mattresses designed to complement their preferred sleeping positions. Subjects also showed progressive improvements in the study conducted over the course of  12 weeks. “It was concluded that sleep surfaces are related to sleep discomfort and that is indeed possible to reduce pain and discomfort and to increase sleep quality in those with chronic back pain by replacing mattresses based on sleeping position” the study noted.

So, what’s the optimal firmness level for various sleeping positions?

For back sleepers: According to a latest research, back sleepers tend to do best with a medium-firm mattress, all else being equal. As reported in Harvard Health Publishing, a survey of 268 people with lower back pain found that those who slept on very hard mattresses had the poorest sleep quality, while there was no difference in sleep quality between those who used medium-firm and firm mattresses. 

For side sleepers: Side sleeping tends to be the position that’s most conducive to a healthy spine. In that case, you might want a somewhat softer mattress that will let you “sink in” a bit and preserve your spine’s natural alignment. Side sleepers who spend the night on a mattress that’s too firm might experience pressure or numbness in their hip and shoulder.

For stomach sleepers: Sleeping on your belly can place a lot of stress on your lower back and neck in addition to adding straining your air intake. This is why the National Sleep Foundation recommends trying to switch things up. If you’re a committed stomach-sleeper though, a firm mattress will give you a bit more support to minimize back pain.

For combination sleepers and couples: If you rotate through various sleep positions throughout the night or have multiple sleepers in bed, the best type of mattress for your back pain may be a medium-firm mattress. This gives side sleepers some softness while still remaining firm enough for back and belly sleepers.

Materials Matter

One big factor that determines the level of support a mattress will offer for back pain is its material composition. While there’s nothing wrong with sticking with the tried-and-true, back-care experts recommend learning about the wider variety of mattress types and materials out there today, including memory foam and latex, since they have different attributes that may appeal to your sleep needs. 

If you tend to run hot when you sleep, you may want to consider materials that will keep you cooler, since overheated sleepers tend to toss and turn, aggravating their back pain in the process. A perfect combination of Cool gel infused memory foam and natural latex layers incorporate channels inside the mattress to improve airflow and avoids trapping heat. These heat-wicking materials are essential for temperature controlled sleep in all seasons. 

High cost does not equal a quality mattress for back pain

Great mattresses do not have to be expensive. They just need to be comfortable to your skin and supportive to your skeleton (frame). If you come across this combination, your search for the perfect mattress ends right there. If you’ve always been stuck to the same type of mattresses, don’t be afraid to try online to find the best mattress for your back pain.

Finally.... let’s not forget the basics:

Research & Buy Online: Always research the various types of mattresses online, the materials used and compare prices. Be wary of mattresses built with adulterated materials, so always check the product specifications for International certified materials like Certi-PUR (US) and OEKO-Tek for peak performance and safety.

Take the mattress for a test drive: Some online mattress brands provide a 100 Day Trial. This allows you ample time to test out the mattress if it is the right fit for you.

Check the warranty: Try only brands that provide a 10 year warranty for your mattress. It’s always wiser to protect your sleep investment.

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