Best Mattress for Back Pain

Dr. Priscilla Ross

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

When choosing a new mattress it is important to remember a few key points.

First, the ideal mattress should support your body in normal neutral position without producing pressure points and allowing for proper alignment of the spine. It follows that if a mattress is too firm, it will pose excess resistance to natural pressure points (ie head, shoulders, buttocks, hips etc) resulting in improper alignment. A mattress that is too soft will provide inadequate support necessary for proper alignment. It is generally held that a medium to firm mattress is best. To further clarify, on a 1-10 scale (with 1 being softest and 10 firmest) a rating of 5 to 6 is preferred.

A quick test to suggest that you are sleeping on the wrong mattress is if you wake up with an aching back that improves within 15-30 minutes after moving around and light stretching. If this is you then it may be time to go shopping for a new mattress.
Experts recommend trying out a new mattress for at least 10-15 minutes in the store prior to purchasing. If you are comfortable doing this it's probably worth the effort.

An innerspring mattress with coils is a good choice and while the salesperson may try and emphasize the need for more coils, it's generally held that a coil count above 390 probably makes no difference in back support.

As far as what topper to choose, this is personal preference. It's generally felt that memory foam tops temperature sensitive changing with your own body heat. So if you like cooler temperatures while sleeping, this may be a poor choice for you.

Finally, latex mattresses are held by many experts to be a firm mattress providing good back support. However, it should be noted that ICU patients that are confined to their beds long term are placed on air mattresses which can be adjusted for specific patient pressure points. It should be noted that these beds are very expensive and are not the same as home blow up air mattresses.

Lengthy topic but this is a very common question and I hope this sheds some light on an important question!!