Choosing a mattress to help with a bad back often comes with a daunting amount of research to be done.
If you do a quick Google search there are a tonne of bloggers and experts offering advice that can often conflict.
Unless you have the time to spend hours in bed shops trying out different mattresses to find one that suits you perfectly, you may have to make an educated decision based on facts, reviews and research.
(And even if you do spend hours testing out mattresses physically, you won’t actually get to sleep on the mattress to test it out properly overnight.)
You can read 1000 reviews online, but ultimately the choice is yours which mattress will be best suited to your needs.
In this article we will discuss some of the points to think about when choosing the best mattress for your bad bad back and try to help you to narrow your decision making to one or two types of mattress.
Medium to Firm Mattress – If You’re Going For Springs
Research has proven that a medium to firm mattress is the best type of mattress with springs for non-specific back pain.
(It is worth noting that if you have any specific problems with your back you are probably best to mention it to your doctor or specialist for more specific and personalised advice on which mattress would be best for you.)
However, if you suffer from non-specific back pain, then a medium to firm mattress is the best type of spring mattress for you.
This type is best as the firmness offers support to keep you elevated and in the most straight a line as possible.
The medium level of softness also helps to reduce the pain created from pressure points when lying on the mattress for your comfort and improved quality of sleep.
Choosing a medium to firm spring mattress is a good option if you are on a limited budget. They can be bought for as little as £200 for a decent one and will last a good number of years.
However, if you are looking for the absolute best mattress option to help you get a good nights sleep, you would be best off exploring options of memory foam mattresses.
What is a memory foam mattress?
A memory foam mattress will mould and contour to your body to support it in every way for the maximum comfort level.
The foam in a memory foam mattress is not just any basic foam – it is scientifically designed and created to last for a very long time.
Usually memory foam mattresses come with a 10 year guarantee.
Memory foam mattresses are technically advanced and proven to provide benefits that a spring mattress cannot.
Why are memory foam mattresses best for bad backs?
Foam mattresses allow you to get completely comfortable and then they hold you in that position with full support.
Memory foam mattresses are best for bad backs because they offer unique support that a spring mattress alone can not. The advanced foam layers will push against the underside of your body to counter you pushing down with your body to keep you elevated and supported in every way.
This is a supportive and balanced feeling – not a feeling of sinking.
If you suffer from lower or upper back pain, the memory foam mattress will allow parts of your body i.e. your bum and shoulders to sink lower into the mattress than the arch of your spine and lower legs to alleviate any pressure points that a regular mattress may be causing.
Allowing the protruding parts of your body to sink into the mattress helps your spine to remain in alignment.
This will inevitably help with back pain and with achieving a natural spine curve whilst sleeping.
What does back pain have to do with a mattress?
Whilst your mattress isn’t the be all and end all of back pain, it is certainly a large factor in helping to alleviate back pain at night.
There are many daily activities and lifestyle habits that can cause and lead to back pain, if you have a lifestyle where you spend lots of time sitting at a chair or standing still for long periods throughout the day, your back and spine can become compressed and when you get into an uncomfortable bed at night the problem will only become worse.
Your mattress choice is a key factor in helping you to prevent and reduce back pain.
By lying on a bed that is best suited i.e. a memory foam mattress for support, you can drastically reduce the pain and tension you feel in your back at night time and when trying to turn over in bed.
Memory Foam Toppers
If you already own a decent mattress and are not ready to invest in another, there are other options, so don’t worry.
You may benefit from a memory for mattress topper.
This is a thin mattress that sits on top of your regular mattress. It is a layer of memory foam that provides impact relief and pressure point relief on your joints.
A memory foam topper is also a great way to get the best of both worlds.
You can achieve firm support from your mattress which is underneath the topper. And have extra comfort and from the spongy memory foam topper.
Tip* Check you check your mattress isn’t sagging in any areas before opting for a memory foam topper.
This is crucial, if your mattress is old and sagging, you can put the best mattress topper in the world on top of it and you still may not feel comfortable.
Best sleeping positions for a bad back
Whilst you may be more inclined to sleep on your stomach if you suffer from bad back problems, you could in fact be making the problem worse by choosing to sleep on your stomach.
The best positions to sleep in for helping with a bad back are on your side or on your back.
Sleeping on your back is the perfect way to achieve a better alignment of your spine, however if you are a side sleeper, this is also better sleeping position than sleeping on your stomach.
The reason why is that on your side and on your back there is less pressure being applied to your spine and your spine is allowed to remain in its natural curved shape.
If you try to lie on your stomach, whilst you may feel relief from back pain, it could make the pain worse by regularly sleeping on your front. (Sleeping on your stomach does not create a natural curve in the spine.
I dont currently have back pain – will a mattress help to prevent it in the future?
Yes, is the short answer.
Perhaps you are young and hear your parents complaining of back pain frequently.
Or perhaps you are young and suffer from occasional extremely painful back or hip pain (this is me.)
If you are able to invest in the best possible mattress now, whilst you have no pain.
One that support your body, a medium firm spring mattress, with a memory foam topper, or a memory foam mattress.
You could be saving yourself from years of back ache when you get older.
Whilst this isn’t the case for everyone of course, it is something to consider. We spend nearly a third of our lives in bed on a mattress.
Most mattresses come with an 8 – 10 year guarantee.
Think about how old you will be in 10 years, this is what made us opt for the best mattress we could afford and it absolutely paid off. The back and hip pain I experienced frequently on our old basic mattress is gone and we are able to sleep in a much more supported and comfortable way, thanks to our memory foam mattress.