Best Mattresses For Bad Backs: Find What’s Right For You
If you suffer from back pain, you don’t need me to tell you how debilitating and life changing it can be. You are not alone with your back pain, it is estimated that about 80% of adults will have to deal with it at some point in their lives; for many it is an ongoing issue.
There are lots of different causes of back pain and lots of different ways to treat bad backs. An old mattress might be part of the problem and a new mattress could be part of the solution. There is no one right mattress for everyone with back pain, but I’ll go through the three key factors of what the best mattresses for bad backs should have and share my favorite mattress choices with you.
Please bear in mind that I am not a chiropractor or a doctor and this article aims to provide general advice about best mattresses for bad backs only. Please speak to your health professional for specific concerns.
Is Your Current Mattress Contributing To Your Back Pain?
Unless your mattress has a coil poking you in the back the minute you lie down, it might not be immediately obvious that it is contributing to back pain. However, there are four signs you can look out for that will give you a clue as to whether it’s time to ditch the old mattress and get a new one for the sake of your back:
1. Pain is there when you wake up, but is gone after you’ve been up for a little while
2. Waking up a lot during the night (this could be because you’re actually uncomfortable in your sleep)
3. Tossing and turning because you cant get comfortable in your bed
4. Your mattress is more than 10 years old (it probably can’t support you properly any more)
What To Look For In A Mattress: The Three Key Factors
There are many things you could consider when choosing a mattress that’s going to work well for you, but when you’re thinking about the best mattress for back pain that is going to help you with your back, there are three factors that should be at the top of the list when you are considering your mattress options:
1. Feel: generally, medium-firm is the feel you will want from your mattress. This equates to about a 7 on the mattress firmness scale of 1-10, and luckily is quite a common firmness in new mattresses, and a feel most people can get comfortable on. The reason you want medium firm is that you want the mattress to be firm enough to offer you good support and alignment but also be just soft enough for pressure relief and comfort at the same time. Medium firm strikes the right balance for a lot of people in this regard, and is backed by science which is always good.
Keep in mind that how a mattress feels is totally subjective. If you’re a lighter person, you may find a mattress rated about 5 or 6 is medium firm to you. Likewise, if you’re heavier, you may want to find one rated about 8. Seven is a good ballpark number to aim for. Choose a mattress with a good length sleep trial (more than 30 nights) that is returnable if it does not work for you.
2. Sleeping position. Did you know that the way you lie in bed is a huge factor in the mattress you should choose? If you lie on your back, you’ll need a mattress with a slightly different feel than someone who lies on their side, or someone who lies on their stomach. This is because the position we sleep in means our we hit our mattress with different pressure points, which requires different levels of support for your back to keep it aligned.
- Back sleepers need a medium-firm mattress (which fits well with point one above) to make sure your spine is supported in a healthy line while you sleep. Read more info for back sleepers here.
- Side sleepers need a mattress slightly softer than back sleepers, because of the way your shoulder is positioned when you sleep on the side. If the mattress is too firm, you may get a numb shoulder, which is the last thing you want on top of back pain. Read more info for side sleepers here.
- Stomach sleepers need a mattress slightly firmer than everyone else, as your pelvis will dip if a mattress is too soft. This is terrible for your back. Read more info for stomach sleepers here.
3. Warranty cover. When you’re considering a mattress, you need to read the fine print of the warranty information. This is because companies wil have variations in how deep a body indentation they consider to be defective. All mattresses will soften with time, but indentations of 1 inch or more have been linked to sore backs or uncomfortable sleep. This means that you want to look for a mattress that allows you to make a warranty claim for 1/2 or 3/4 of an inch deep indentations. This ensures you’ll get longer pain free use from your mattress.
To sum it up, you’ll be wanting to get a mattress with a good warranty that is as close to being a medium firm as possible while factoring in your sleeping position. If you find a mattress that meets those three criteria for you, you’re onto a winner.
Best Types Of Mattresses For Bad Backs
Now that you know what general qualities you need to be looking for in a mattress, what about materials? The most common online mattresses are memory foam, latex, or hybrids that have memory foam and/or latex in their comfort layer. Each type has its pros and cons, each can work well for back pain.
- Memory foam is often recommended for back pain, as it is well known for its body contouring properties. My husband thinks his back pain has improved since we changed our personal mattress to a memory foam mattress.
- Latex makes a great mattress material because it is ultra responsive, springy and the most durable mattress material available.
- Hybrids combine the familiar support of springs with a comfort layer of either memory foam or latex. They have the best edge support.
My 3 Top Mattress Picks That Could Help Your Back
You can buy a mattress online that could help you with your back. In fact, you might even have a better experience, because you’ll find you get a long sleep trial to really test the mattress out before you have to decide if you’re going to keep it. This is much better than awkwardly lying on one in a store! You will also find you can get an excellent quality mattress for a fraction of the price of the mattresses you might be considering splashing out on in stores. The best mattresses for bad backs don’t need to break the bank.
Here are my three top recommendations for you to consider in your new mattress hunt. I have selected one of each mattress type: memory foam, latex, and hybrid. Each is made in the USA from high quality materials and offers a long sleep trial. Click on the links to go to my detailed write ups of each:
- Memory foam: Snuggle Pedic. This is a memory foam mattress that has been designed by a Chiropractor, for a company that specializes in pain relief products. It is a medium firm mattress that can be customized for free. Find out more about the Snuggle Pedic memory foam mattress
- Latex: PlushBeds. PlushBeds is, from what I can tell, the only company that can offer you 100% organic latex inside their mattresses. They are extremely high quality and come backed by a 20 year warranty. There are three different latex options with PlushBeds, so you can choose the one that suits your individual needs the best. Find out more about the PlushBeds range, or read about why their topper is the best mattress toper for back pain.
- Hybrid: Avocado. The Avocado Green mattress is a hybrid that has natural latex as the comfort layer, topped with organic New Zealand wool. It is an extremely high quality mattress and has the longest sleep trial of the three I’m introducing you to here: a whole year! Get all the info on the Avocado Green mattress
So there you have it. My quick guide to the key things to consider when you’re shopping for your new mattress, and three of the best online mattress options available right now. If you’ve found a mattress that has helped your back, please let me know about it in the comments, I’m always on the look out for new mattresses that can help my readers.