How To Choose The Right Mattress for Back Pain

How To Choose The Right Mattress for Back Pain

Nothing can destroy a good night sleep faster than back pain. Ironically, it is rest and that night’s sleep that can be an important factor towards healing that pain. Fortunately, the right bed and mattress for back pain can be the answer to good night sleep. Alternately, the wrong mattress can make your back pain worse.

In the not too distant past, you had a choice between a spring-filled soft mattress or a firm one. Waterbeds were also an option. Eventually, a pillow top was added to the spring-filled mattress choices. When memory foam came out, one would wonder what might be changed next. The answer to that was the gel mattress for back pain.

For many people, the level of back pain that they experience is a factor as to which bed they buy. Back pain can be the result of pulled or torn ligaments from an injury. It can be age-related arthritis. It can be due to a pinched nerve or a herniated disc. Muscle strains are also responsible. It can also be due to being overweight.

Depending on the level of your back pain, you probably experience sleep disturbances. If you are sleeping on the wrong mattress, your back pain may even be worse in the morning. The right bed depends on the individual and what is comfortable for them. Since there is a variety of mattresses available, how do we choose the one that will be good for our backs?

To find the right mattress for back pain to accommodate your back problems, you need to consider how the mattress supports you. Does the mattress offer spinal support? Is a natural spinal alignment possible? Is it comfortable for you? What effect if any does it have on your body temperature?

To find the right mattress for back pain, you will need to first consider your preferred sleeping position.

Sleeping Positions

Everyone has a go-to sleeping position. It is that position where you can normally achieve your deepest sleep. Your favourite sleeping position dictates what parts of your back are best supported by your mattress.

If you are a back sleeper, a conventional mattress for back pain will support you pretty well. However, if you sleep on your side, your hips and back won’t be as well supported and can push your spine out of alignment.

For many years, it was believed that a firmer mattress was better for your back. For people who sleep on their stomach, this might be okay. Since the advent of memory foam, this way of thinking has changed. Most people sleep better and awaken more rested when they sleep on a mattress that cradles the curves of their bodies.

Sleeping With Back Pain

The combination of your sleeping position and the mattress for back pain, you find most comfortable can dictate your pain levels. If you sleep on your stomach, you have more options. It is not as important for there to be much given from the mattress beneath you.

It ultimately comes down to whether your back receives continual support from your mattress. You want a mattress that evenly distributes your body weight as you sleep, no matter what position you prefer when you sleep. There are three natural curves to the spine. The curve at the neck, curves around the mid-back, curve at the lower back in the lumbar area.

To diminish your back pain, you want a bed where the mattress aligns with your natural curves. There should not be gaps between your body and the mattress. Your body should not completely sink into the mattress as it would in a mattress for back pain that is too soft. The natural alignment of your spine should be preserved while you sleep.

The final component is if you find yourself sweating when you sleep. You need to keep your body temperature at a comfortable level to maintain healthy sleep. It is important to keep all of these factors in mind when shopping for your new mattress for back pain.

Bases and Foundations

Part of the consideration for the mattress you choose will be the base or foundation of the bed. There are many different styles available these days, including those providing storage underneath the mattress itself. The base should be able to easily support the bed so as not to compromise its construction or function.

  • Traditional box springs are rigid and work well with innerspring mattresses. They are not appropriate for other types.
  • An adjustable frame will not work well with innerspring mattresses but are a good match for memory foam and latest models.
  • Most memory foam, latex, and hybrid mattresses do not require much of a foundation beyond a base. You have a lot of options with this style.
  • Waterbeds are in their own classification. Due to the weight of them when they are full, specific waterbed frames are needed.


Mattress Types

There are several different options for your mattress for back pain choices. Some are traditional spring-filled types. There are still water-filled mattresses available. Others incorporate memory foams and gels. The type you choose should provide the support and function that will allow you to get the best sleep without adding to your pain.

Innerspring Mattresses

Innerspring mattresses are the most common due to their long life and lower prices. There are a variety of different types of springs and coils in this classification. They were initially invented in the early 1900s. While they do offer good support, they are not always the most comfortable option for patients with back pain.

The innerspring mattress is composed of either a continuous-wire spring or a series of coils. The coils can either be wrapped or unwrapped. Unwrapped coils are not common in modern mattresses. Of the wrapped coils, the Marshall coils are shaped like an hourglass so that motion across the bed is minimized.

The main rule for innerspring mattresses is that the more coils there are, the better the quality. The higher the quality, the better the comfort. These mattresses do best on top of traditional frame ad a boxspring base. Innerspring mattresses have the shortest lifespan of mattresses found today. They can wear out and become squeaky in very a short time.

The innerspring mattress is offered at a wide range of qualities and prices. It is primarily the budget option when it comes to mattress shopping.


Waterbeds have been around for many years. They came to become popular in the 1970s and by the 1980s, they were everywhere. The relaxing feeling of floating made them extremely popular.

Initially, waterbeds came in one style only. The waterbed was initially invented for long term care patients to reduce the risk of bedsores. Initially, there was only one model available. It was the traditional single chamber filled with water whose only real adjustment was how full you fill it to reduce the amount of motion.

The waterbed evolved into beds with multiple chambers that could be set to an almost motionless state. Soon there were numerous options, both waveless and semi-waveless. While these beds proved to be very relaxing, they can weigh up to 910 kg. Each bed holds from 300 to 890 litres of water and can be heated to an average of 30 to 33 degrees centigrade.

The weight of the bed itself and the damage that can be caused should the mattress fail makes them a very high-risk investment. It is also one that limits housing options. Most landlords will not allow a waterbed. The waterbed is still around, but the negatives outweigh the positives and they can be hard to find.

The waterbed will only work with a traditional waterbed frame. There are not many other foundational options that will hold the weight of a water bed.

Memory Foam Mattress

Memory foam was initially invented by engineers from NASA. While it’s initial purpose was to create cushions for aircraft seats that would have a long lifespan. It didn’t take long for them to figure out that it would also make an exceptionally comfortable bed.

Since it was introduced in 1991, memory foam has become extremely popular. When you lay on memory foam, it forms to the curves of your body. Once you get up, it goes back to its original shape. When it cradles your body as it conforms, it takes a lot of stress off of the spine.

There are numerous benefits to memory foam. There is very little motion with memory foam which allows movement on one side of the bed to not disturb the other. The memory foam beds are pretty much hypoallergenic as they can repel dust and mites. When it comes to back problems, the memory foam allows your spine to stay in alignment as you sleep. It also provides relief to your traditional pressure points.

The one drawback is that it also retains heat. The primary complaint being that users can tend to sweat while they sleep. There are some options mentioned in the following sections that will allow you to have your comfortable sleep and stay cooler at the same time.

Memory foam mattresses do not require a box spring to support them. A simple base or foundation of any type will work effectively with a memory foam mattress. They also work well with adjustable bed frames.

Gel Mattress

Gel mattresses are primarily memory foam with gel-infused to keep you cooler as you sleep. The gel makes it so that the memory foam can be as dense as it is for support purposes, while still allowing a degree of airflow to cool down the body temperature.

The gel works in that while you are asleep, it tends to balance itself to the temperature surrounding it. While this is also what memory foam itself does, it takes quite a bit longer for the gel to accomplish it. This allows you to stay cooler longer than with traditional memory foam.

While even pricier than the traditional memory foam, they are well worth the investment. They have a long life span and are good for your back. They are in the same category of memory foam mattresses when it comes to base or foundation selection.


Latex is an alternative to memory foam. Since latex is derived from the rubber tree, natural latex can be a more organic option. Latex does have several of the qualities of memory foam.

It too will conform to your body and relieve pressure points, but it has proven to not do so quite as well as memory foam does. Also, being of the rubber plant, a latex bed will prove to be somewhat bouncier. When it comes down to Latex vs memory foam, it is truly a matter of consumer preference


Hybrid beds are a combination of an innerspring mattress and memory foam or latex. These mattresses are constructed with a base that is traditional innerspring topped by several layers of memory foam or latex. These beds can offer several different customizable options depending on your preferences.

The hybrid bed comes with many different options that are usually reserved to the top foam or latex layers. This is where gel infusion to keep you cooler, or a less dense more breathable structure to the memory foam. Hybrid mattresses are usually quite a bit taller than either traditional innerspring or memory foam beds so they will work well on any base or foundation. They will even do well placed on the floor.

Hybrid beds give you the best of both worlds. Due to their many available options, they can be a significant investment. Always make sure to compare more than one type of hybrid mattress before coming to your final decision.


A pillow top bed is another type of hybrid bed. It is a standard innerspring mattress with thick padding on top. It is also known as a Euro-top mattress. The padding atop the spring base is usually constructed of cotton, wool, or foam and can range from a few centimetres in thickness to substantial padding. They can be customized in much the same way as a hybrid, but these beds tend to be at quite expensive.

The foams used in the pillow top do not offer the spinal benefit offered by memory foam. These beds are very comfortable, but might not be something necessary for a bad back.


Best Mattress For Back Pain

As mentioned earlier, there are considerations as to what your needs are. Some of your back pain may be caused by or at lease exasperated by your current mattress for back pain. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to this problem. There are many considerations.

First of all, not everyone carries the same amount of weight. Whether you are of normal weight or if you are obese can make a difference in your experience. The other major consideration is your sleeping position. Your choice of mattress for back pain should take both into account.

If you are a stomach sleeper you will be comfortable in any of the mattress for back pain options. However, if you have a back injury or back pain, your doctors have by now advised you to stop sleeping on your stomach. If your back pain is acute and not a permanent situation, then you will truly be happy with any mattress on the market. If your pain is chronic, you will want to take your doctor’s advice and change your sleep position.

Many back sleepers suffer not only from back pain but also from sleep apnea. These two conditions are quite commonly found together. For back sleepers of any weight, the memory foam or latex beds will provide you with the most comfort.

Side sleepers often have to worry about the pressure points in the region of the hips. Memory foam mattresses are the perfect answer for you. They relieve pressure off the trouble areas, cradling your body, keeping your spine in alignment, and can allow you restful sleep even with a painful condition.


Sleeping comfortably when you have back pain can be a challenge and your current mattress could well be making your pain worse. Today’s options give back pain patients better opportunities to get some good sleep in as painless a manner as possible.

While your weight and what position you sleep in need to be taken into consideration, the basic facts are that today’s memory foam beds could provide you with a lot of relief. This material allows your spine to retain alignment during sleep while relieving pressure from areas that hurt you the most. All of these factors put together point towards an answer to your pain.

If you aren’t sold on pure memory foam, the hybrid mattresses give you the benefits of both the innerspring mattresses and the memory foam. You will want to consider all of your options as you shop. Make sure that you spend at least 5 minutes laying on each mattress for back pain you are considering, and don’t make your decision in one day. Look at your options more than once.

When you buy a bed, you are investing in your sleep for years to come. You might as well make this investment a decision you will live comfortably with. Contact us at Sleep Masters now to get your own mattress for back pain!