What to look for in a mattress when you suffer from back pain
Everyone’s body is different, meaning everyone’s back pain condition is going to be different too. So when it comes to choosing the best mattress, it’s really a personal decision. But there are two primary factors you should pay attention to while shopping for a mattress to help alleviate your back pain:
- The materials that your mattress is made from
- The firmness of the mattress
WHAT MATERIALS SHOULD YOUR MATTRESS BE MADE OF TO HELP WITH BACK PAIN?
Memory foam tends to be the best type of mattress to help cradle your body, relieve pressure points and keep your spine in proper alignment – all important qualities in a mattress, especially when you suffer from back pain. Memory foam (and other foam blends) do a good job of evenly distributing your body weight – meaning you won’t get as much of that uneven pressure or discomfort that tends to stir up your back pain even more.
Compared to traditional spring or coil mattresses, memory foam tends to hold its shape longer, which means a) your mattress will last longer and b) it won’t sag or lose its support as quickly as other mattresses can. While there are some latex and hybrid mattresses that can offer similar qualities, you probably want to stay away from innerspring mattresses if you really want to give your back the support it needs. Innerspring mattresses won’t cradle your body as well as memory foam and won’t have the same pressure relieving properties as foam does.
When deciding on the best mattress for your back pain, airflow and cooling properties are also important to look for. First of all, you’ll probably sleep better if you’re not sweating throughout the night. But having decent airflow also helps improve the amount of oxygen your body gets. If your body’s temperature is regulated and it’s getting the oxygen it needs, it has a better chance of recharging and relaxing problem muscles and joints.
HOW FIRM SHOULD YOUR MATTRESS BE TO HELP WITH BACK PAIN?
You may have heard a rumor that sleeping on a rock-hard mattress is best for your back pain. To be honest, that sounds kind of miserable. And it’s also not true. While everyone’s preference is going to differ slightly, people who suffer from back pain generally prefer a medium-firm to firm mattress. (This is usually a 5.5 – 7.5 out of 10 on the firmness scale.)
If you don’t believe us, here’s a little proof:
- In a survey of 268 people with lower back pain, results showed that those who slept on what’s known as an orthopedic mattress (aka very hard) had the poorest sleep quality.
- Another study showed that medium-firm mattresses reduced back pain by 57.2%, shoulder pain by 60.8%, and back stiffness by 59.1%. Overall, this helped improve the sleep quality of the study participants by 60.7%.
If you suffer from back pain, you probably want to stay away from super soft mattresses as well. Soft mattresses can conform to your body too much, which means you’ll sink into the mattress and lose the good posture that a firmer mattress will give you.
So, in summary:
- The best mattress for your back pain will be medium-firm to firm (5.5-7.5 on the firmness scale).
- A mattress that is too firm or too soft will not support your pressure points or distribute your body weight appropriately, causing your spine to fall out of its natural alignment and make your back pain even worse.
- Ultimately, the best mattress for your back pain should make you feel like you are floating on air. (Doesn’t that sound dreamy?)