What is the Best Type of Mattress for Back Pain? | SleepChoices™

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What is the Best Type of Mattress for Back Pain?

What is the Best Type of Mattress for Back Pain?

November 30, 2018

For those who suffer from chronic back pain, having the right mattress is very important. A mattress that offers the correct support and one that minimizes pressure points is one that doctors suggest for back comfort. Considering we spend nearly one-third of our lives on our mattresses, having a mattress that supports the spine and offers comfort will meet the sleep needs of most people, particularly those who are suffering from back issues.

According to Steven Agabegi, MD, a spine surgeon and assistant professor in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, no one mattress will be ideal for everyone. If you are shopping for a mattress, you may already feel overwhelmed.


The Real Test: Actual Sleeping on the Mattress

Price will not be the best indicator of a good mattress, especially when back problems plague you. The key aspect is support and comfort. And the only way you will know if something is right for you is to be able to try it out. This means trying it out for more than a few minutes on a showroom floor. The real test is getting it home and actually sleeping on it.

Today it is possible to order your mattress online with the ability to try it for a few weeks and return it if you are not satisfied. What this means is that you will want to buy from a manufacturer that has a liberal return policy.


Firmer is Not Better

Although common wisdom used to be that firmer was better for back issues, that is no longer true. New studies show that this is outdated. According to one study, 313 participants who suffered lower back pain reported that using a medium-firm mattress resulted in less pain than using a firm mattress. Mattresses that are too hard may create more pain by not providing enough allowance at pressure points.


A Matter of Posture

Posture is just as important when you sleep as when you are awake. Muscles and ligaments need to relax and recover at night. When a mattress is too firm or too soft, it doesn’t provide the right support in the areas of the spine, shoulders, neck, and hip regions. The best mattress will keep the body in the correct alignment during sleep. This can mean different things for different types of sleepers.


  • Back sleepers — your mattress should be firm enough to support the lower back while being soft enough to contour to the rest of the body.
  • Side sleepers — your mattress should have enough softness to provide ample cushioning for the shoulders and hips.
  • Stomach sleepers — many stomach sleepers may sleep this way because of lower back pain. A firm mattress may help in this case.
  • Combination sleepers — your mattress should provide motion isolation for movement.


In many cases, memory foam mattresses can provide the proper soft to firm ratio while having a great degree of motion isolation. Today’s memory foam mattresses can come in ranges of density which can allow for a full spectrum of soft to medium-firm mattresses, depending on your needs. Many experts agree that memory foam mattresses provide the ideal ergonomic qualities to provide comfort for people with chronic back pain.

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