The best mattress to treat back pain

July 21, 2014

There are so many mattresses on the market to choose from, but which are the most effective in treating back pain?
Back pain is a common problem. It affects an estimated one in three people, but thankfully there are many treatment options. Beyond adequate footwear, corrective posture and various alternative and manual therapies, your choice of mattress is a key factor in treating and preventing chronic backache.

Assuming that you spend an average of seven hours per night sleeping, the type of mattress and pillows you use have an undeniable impact on the quality of your sleep and your overall health. With so many to choose from, what kind of mattress is best for you?

Types of mattresses

  • Wool mattress (durable, natural fibres)
  • Foam mattress (memory foam, different levels of firmness available)
  • Latex mattress (well ventilated, hypoallergenic)
  • Mattresses with dual core pocket springs (very supportive)
  • Waterbed (even support)

What type of material to choose?

It would appear that mattress materials alone do not significantly contribute to back pain or affect overall health. Each manufacturer uses different mattress building techniques, and since relative firmness and softness are variable for everyone, mattresses will vary greatly from one distributor to another.

What to look for (hard or soft?)

Like Goldilocks, the best mattress for people who suffer from back pain must not be too soft or too hard. It’s pure myth that a very firm mattress is the best support for your back, instead aim for proper balance. If your body is curved and you feel like you’re lying in a hammock, your mattress is probably too soft.

The most important aspect of your mattress ensures that all parts of your body are in contact with the surface of the bed when you are lying down, without exception. Place your hand under your body and under your back to see if there is a gap between you and the mattress. If there's a gap, the mattress is probably too hard, and you should move on. Your shoulders, buttocks and legs must be well-supported by the mattress you select.

When to change mattresses

If you suspect your mattress is factoring into your back pain, keep in mind that mattresses should be changed about every six or seven years. Some suggest replacing it every ten years, but when it comes to your health and well-being, it’s better to not wait too long.

Furthermore, if your current mattress is old and lumpy or doesn’t provide stability and support (without a gap) for your back, shoulders and buttocks, it is time to change beds.


Finally, many people underline the beneficial effect of waterbeds on back pain, as well as several other sleep disorders and health conditions. More expensive and less trendy than they used to be, waterbeds provide a feeling of floating and they naturally mold to the contours of the body.

Don’t hesitate to seek helpful advice from sleep specialists, or bedding experts. When it comes to buying a new mattress (this goes for waterbeds as much as any other type of mattress), don’t be shy to take it for a test drive in the store.

The best mattress to treat back pain
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