If you have back pain, then it is important to pick the right mattress. Many people believe that a firm mattress is best for a bad back, but this may not always hold true. In fact, a firm mattress will not accommodate the natural curvature of the spine, and can cause additional problems. Let's find out what sort of mattress is best for a bad back, and why the firmest one isn't best for you.
A firm mattress creates pressure points on the shoulders and pelvic area. This can be uncomfortable for anyone, especially for those who sleep on their sides. Furthermore, having these pressure points on someone with a bad back will be doubly uncomfortable.
Another problem with pressure points is that if they are creating numbness, this will cause you to toss and turn frequently to get into a comfortable position. It can be hard to find a comfortable position on a mattress that is too firm, leading to countless sleepless nights.
A mattress which is too firm will not support your spine in its normal alignment. Instead it will only provide support on the heaviest areas of the body: the shoulders and hips. This leads to uncomfortable pressure points as described above. In addition to the discomfort, this mattress will cause longer term problems from the lack of proper support for the spine.
For someone with a bad back, a firm mattress can cause all sorts of problems as the body tries unsuccessfully, to compensate for the lack of lower back spinal support. You may not even be aware that this is what your body is trying to do, since this is something your muscles will be doing subconsciously. You will, however, become very aware of a longer-term pain and discomfort which may not seem to be going away.
Lack of conformability
A firm mattress will not conform properly to your body, leaving gaps between your body and the bed. This means some areas of your body will simply not be supported by an overly firm mattress, and this will lead to additional pain if you have a bad back. Ideally, a mattress should give you good supportiveness but still conform to your body's contours.
We learned that a firm mattress is a poor choice for a bad back. So what is the best mattress if you have back pain?
The best mattress for a bad back is of medium-firm density. While it is important not to have an overly firm mattress for a bad back, it is equally important that it is not too soft to support your body weight. An overly soft mattress will not support the body properly at all, allowing it to sink into the mattress too much. As a result, your back pain will worsen after sleeping on an extremely soft mattress. Instead, for a bad back, a medium-firm is considered the ideal middle ground: not too soft and not too firm.
The material the mattress is made of also plays a huge role in alleviating pain. A latex mattress is the best type for a bad back. This is because latex has a natural springiness and conforms easily to your body to provide proper spinal support. Furthermore, latex is widely acclaimed as one of the most comfortable types of mattresses on the market. A night of restful comfort and ease can go a long way to helping those who suffer from a bad back.
If you lay down to try out a latex mattress, you'll quickly see why it comes recommended by many chiropractors and osteopaths: latex is supportive yet extremely comfortable.
However, when shopping for a mattress for a bad back, beware of mattresses which are touted as being orthopaedic. The truth is that "orthopaedic" is an arbitrary term used by manufacturers. There is in fact no industry-wide standard or government standard for an orthopaedic mattress. Instead, go with a latex mattress from a reputable mattress shop that allows you to change or replace the firmness level of the mattress within a certain period of time, like 100 days. It is a far better sign of quality of a mattress to be recommended by an independent party such as an osteopath, instead of it being touted as "orthopaedic" by the manufacturer.
The key message here is that if you have back pain, you should avoid a too firm or too soft mattress. In the past, it was thought that a firm mattress was good for a bad back. In contrast, more recent findings suggest that a medium firm mattress is better.
A latex mattress will go a long way to helping maintain your proper spinal alignment without creating pressure points. In addition to being better for a bad back, a latex mattress feels incredibly comfortable just to lie upon and relax. If you suffer from back pain, you should consider sleeping on a medium firm latex mattress. Try one out and see!