3rd June 2021
Guides & Advice
We know that buying a mattress can feel overwhelming. And if you suffer from a bad back, it’s even more important that you choose wisely and pick a mattress that will support you properly.
To help make the process a little bit easier for you, we’ve put together some advice for what to consider when choosing your new mattress.
Bad backs can cause continuous discomfort and keep you awake at night. There are so many different causes – from bad posture or physical injury to your mattress and sleeping position. Your gender even has a part to play due to body shapes and the alignment of your spine!
There are also different types of back pain but most people experience ‘non-specific’ and ‘mechanical’ pain, so the severity can differ and change throughout the day. But one consistent recommendation to reduce pain is to make sure you have a mattress that will properly support your back rather than aggravate any existing discomfort.
If you’re waking up feeling stiff and sore, then there’s a good chance you’re sleeping on a mattress that’s too soft. Without sufficient support, your mattress will cause the spine to fall out of alignment, causing your muscles to work overtime rather than relax.
While for those who experience joint pain in the morning, it could be that your mattress is too firm. A mattress that contours to your body – such as memory foam or one made with lots of small springs – is a great way to ensure you’re getting the support you need without restricting any natural alignments in the spine.
If you have back pain that is caused by a medical condition, this shouldn’t be treated in the same way as pain caused by discomfort, so be sure to seek advice from a medical professional. If in doubt, always err on the side of caution and get advice on what will work best for you.
Those who sleep on their stomachs are most at risk from lower back pain as this position pulls the spine out of alignment and puts extra pressure on your joints. Side sleepers can be at risk of this too.
Sleeping on your back has the most benefits, as your head, neck and spine are all fully supported by your mattress, which reduces any chances of pain the following day.
Whilst it’s important to get comfortable in a sleeping position you like, it’s also important to listen to what your body is telling you. If you find yourself aching in the same spots night after night, you may want to consider trying a new sleeping position.
When trying a mattress in-store, get into your natural sleeping position and lie there for a while to see if you find the mattress comfortable and supportive.
Since no two spines are the same, there is no one-size-fits all solution when it comes to choosing a mattress. But there are certain things that are key to consider.
The level of support is the main consideration and there are various options including gently supportive, medium support and firm, all of which are achieved by varying density or the tensions in the springs.
If you share a bed with your partner, you may have different requirements, so you might also want to consider dual tension or zip and link mattresses so each side is tailored to your personal preference. Where there is a difference in weight between people sharing a bed, opting for different levels of support may be a sensible idea.
When a mattress is just right for you, it works with you and supports your body evenly. This alleviates any pressure and keeps your spine perfectly aligned. When a mattress is too soft for you, it can put severe pressure on your lower back. It is not only uncomfortable, but it can cause stiffness the following day.
On the flip side, for those that experience joint pain in the morning, your mattress could be too firm. A mattress that contours to your body – such as one with small springs – is a great way to ensure you’re getting the support you need without restricting any natural alignments in the spine.
There are so many different kinds of mattresses to consider and it’s important to understand each before making a decision on which type of mattress could be best for your bad back.
Traditional, open coil mattresses consist of a spring system where each individual spring is connected and lined together within a wire frame. A standard double open coil mattress will contain 200-400 springs that move as one unit, so if you toss and turn in your sleep, you are more likely to disturb your partner.
Pocket sprung mattresses tend to have a much higher spring count than open coil mattresses thus offering greater support. And because pocket springs move independently from one another, they will contour to your body more effectively. Perfect spinal alignment is key to a good night’s sleep.
A pocket spring mattress can adapt to your individual body shape, providing you tailored support where you need it the most. This also means that you can move about in your sleep without the whole mattress responding (and disturbing your partner!). Pocket sprung mattresses are designed to relieve the build-up of pressure points as the weight of your body is distributed across many different springs.
A foam mattress is an alternative to a pocket sprung mattress or an open coil mattress. The heat of your body softens the memory foam, allowing the mattress to adapt to your shape. This can sometimes make you overheat and therefore you will move around more. However, this isn’t always the case as modern foam mattresses are better at regulating temperature and preventing you from overheating overnight.
There’s a common misconception that a firm mattress is the best option for your back, but this isn’t necessarily the case as it’s all dependent on your own body type. Someone who is smaller may prefer a softer mattress than someone who weighs more than them, for example.
The key is to ensure your mattress perfectly supports your body and as a result, keeps your spine aligned.
A mattress topper sits on top of your mattress and provides support that can lengthen a mattress' life by reducing pressure on the springs.
You can also buy loose mattress toppers that are essentially separate layers that you can put on top of your existing mattress to add an extra layer of support and comfort.
Toppers could be considered a luxury extra or can be used as a short-term purchase to make your old mattress more comfortable and supportive for your bad back.
There are so many variables when it comes to looking for the best mattress for a bad back. Firstly, you need to consider the type of back pain you suffer from (and whether or not it’s being caused by your current mattress) and get some advice if you’re worried about it.
If you’re feeling stiff and sore when you wake up, it’s likely that your mattress has a part to play. Think about your height, weight and posture (and your partner’s needs) before thinking about which type of mattress may work best for you.
Then consider whether an open coil, pocket sprung or foam mattress might be the most suitable – a lot of this is personal preference – you need to feel comfortable at night, as you’re getting to sleep. Ideally you need to try before you buy – lie on a mattress for a good 10-15 minutes before making any decisions. Remember the research is worth it to have a good night’s sleep and wake without any aches and pains.
This article is guidance only and should not be treated as medical advice. If you have persistent back pain please speak to a medical professional.