So, what’s the overall best mattress for people with back pain? There isn’t one! That’s because not one single mattress can solve every type and cause of back pain.
However, although we’re not qualified to offer health advice, we found many sleepers had reduced back pain with a supportive, firm mattress. Further research revealed an ideal mattress design is one that holds the neck, spine, and hips in line, while contouring to support the lower back.
Taking this into account, this guide will arm you with impartial information and showcase some of the most suitable options for mattresses you can buy online. This narrows your choices from a huge market and makes your next mattress choice simple and stress-free.
The link between back pain and mattresses
Once you’ve been to your doctor and ruled out any medical reason for your back pain, think about how you sleep.
Do you wake up often throughout the night? If so, are you woken up by a feeling of discomfort – like being stiff or sore? Do you toss and turn trying to find a comfortable sleeping position? When you wake up in the morning, do you still feel exhausted and unrefreshed?
If yes, your mattress may be causing your back pain.
An old, sagging mattress won’t provide the support your back needs for a pain-free existence. But a very firm mattress may not do the trick either. A survey by Harvard Medical School of people with lower back pain found that those who slept on very hard mattresses had the poorest sleep quality. Yet soft mattresses were also problematic. As you sink in so deeply, your joints can twist and become painful during the night.
However, the survey found that there was no difference in sleep quality between those who used medium-firm and firm mattresses, suggesting these may be the best option for reducing back pain.
Keeping your back healthy when you’re sleeping
While you sleep, your spine and the muscle supporting it needs to rest as well. This can be achieved not only through your mattress but through the way you sleep too.
Whichever sleep position you prefer, here are some ways to support your spine while you’re sleeping:
- The best sleeping position for your spine is to lie on your back with a small pillow under your knees. This reduces the stress on your spine, helping your back to lie naturally.
- If you prefer to sleep on your side, use a pillow between your knees. This helps to reduce stress on the lower spine and hips.
- If you’re a stomach sleeper, use a flat pillow underneath your stomach and hips to help support the natural alignment of your spine.
How to choose a mattress for a bad back
The ideal mattress for your back is one which encourages proper spine alignment and provides good support. If a mattress is too firm, there will be excessive pressure on your joints and muscles. If it’s too soft, your spine drops out of line. This can lead to stressed muscles, nerves, and joints. The best mattress for back pain lets you to relax into the top layer, while the bottom layers provide support and deep compression relief. Depending on your preference, this can be a medium-firm to firm design. Weight, age, injury, and sleeping position also factor into your ideal firmness.
Here’s 3 questions to answer before you buy a mattress.
1. Does it support the natural curve of your spine?
Help your back by allowing it to rest in its natural position. Medium-firm to firm mattresses are thought to be the best at supporting the natural curvature of your spine. If you sleep on your back, you could try a pocket spring mattress (unless you tend to roll over onto your side a lot) or a memory foam one. If you’re a side sleeper, look for some softness, like a pillow top, to help cushion your shoulder and hip bones.
2. How comfortable is it?
Medium-firm to firm mattress may be the best choice for bad backs, but if you prefer a softer mattress, you’ll still have an uncomfortable night’s sleep because it’s too firm for you. A softer mattress provides extra cushioning and buoyancy, which may relieve your back pain. In that case, there’s no reason to switch to a medium-firm or firm mattress. If you’re on the smaller side (less than 55kg), you may find softer mattresses provide enough support for your frame. It’s all about personal preference here.
Unlike traditional shop-bought mattresses when you’ll likely spend only a few minutes lying on it, online mattresses usually offer a trial. This means you can try the mattress for a long period of time in your own home, allowing you to decide whether the mattress is comfortable enough.
3. Does it provide relief for pressure points?
Pressure points are areas in the body that are particularly sensitive to pressure. They’re often felt in bony areas, including the lower back. To relieve pressure points, go for a mattress that distributes your weight evenly throughout – memory foam is best for this.