If you’re one of the 65 million Americans with back pain, it might be time to rethink your mattress needs. Back pain has a wide range of causes, but in many cases, the right mattress can actually help prevent and relieve back pain. So you can get a good night’s sleep and wake up refreshed.
But what is the best mattress for back pain? An all-foam mattress? Soft mattress? Firm mattress? We’ll look at why your mattress might be making your back pain worse and how to choose the best mattress for back pain, so you can get the restful sleep you deserve.
How Can Your Mattress Affect Back Pain?
Most of us have overdone it at one point or another—a tougher workout than usual or sleeping in a weird position—and woke up with an achy back the next day. In these situations, the cause is clear, and the issue usually resolves itself in a few days. But chronic back pain is a different story.
Ongoing back pain that’s not caused by an illness or injury can be the result of bad posture, muscle tension, poor fitness levels, improper sleeping positions, and—you guessed it—an unsupportive mattress. If your mattress doesn’t provide enough support for your spine and relief for your pressure points, you won’t get the restorative, quality sleep that your body needs.
Sleep is your body’s time to repair and recover, and if your mattress is putting more strain on your spine instead of supporting it, your body can’t restore itself as it should. A proper mattress should help align your spine and relieve pressure, reducing pain and inflammation. If yours doesn’t, then it’s likely contributing to your back pain.
Factors Contributing to Back Pain
In addition to physical disorders and injuries, lifestyle factors like poor posture, excess weight, and lack of exercise can all cause persistent back pain. Many of us spend eight or more hours a day hunched over at our desks, resulting in upper back pain and neck pain that just won't quit. Others suffer from lower back pain from lifting, squatting, and bending all day.
By working to improve your posture and strengthen the muscles in your back, you can give your spine better support and help alleviate your back pain. But sleep factors—your sleep position and what you sleep on—also have a major impact on back aches and pains.
Sleeping on your stomach can flex your spine and put additional strain on your back, so if you’re a habitual stomach sleeper, you should try switching to a back or side sleeping position, which will better support your spine. However, your mattress’s structure and quality play an even bigger role.
A saggy, worn-out mattress or one that’s too soft or too hard won’t align and support your spine and can worsen or even cause chronic back pain. So if you’re suffering from constant aches and pains, it might be time to redesign your bed for back pain relief.
How to Choose the Best Mattress for Back Pain
Now that we know what causes back pain, let's look at how to choose the best mattress for back pain relief. There are four different categories of mattresses, and each offers a different level of comfort and support.
Memory foam mattresses: These polyurethane foam mattresses adapt to the shape of your body, cradling your pressure points and helping align your spine, making memory foam one of the best pain relief mattress options. They work equally well for back and stomach sleepers, side sleepers, and combination sleepers.
Latex mattresses: Offers a bouncy feel and good support, but they tend to be especially firm, which can exacerbate back pain, especially for side sleepers who need extra relief for pressure points. They’re also the most expensive mattress type and aren’t widely available.
Innerspring mattresses: Traditional mattresses made from metal springs and cotton batting. They typically offer strong support but may not relieve pressure the way a memory foam mattress can, so they generally aren't the best mattresses for back pain.
Hybrid mattresses: A combination of memory foam and traditional springs, these mattresses are another great option for relieving back pain. They offer the pressure relief of memory foam with the support and responsiveness of an innerspring mattress.
As you can see, memory foam and hybrid mattresses are typically the best options for back pain relief, so when choosing between the two, it comes down to personal preference. For example, if you want to prevent motion transfer, an all=foam mattress would be a better choice. But if you’re a hot sleeper, you may prefer the breathability of a hybrid mattress.
What's Better for Your Back: Soft or Firm Mattress?
It can be tricky to balance personal mattress firmness preferences with proper support for your back. You may like sleeping on a soft, cozy cloud, but an ultra-soft mattress typically won’t provide the support and spinal alignment that your back needs. Likewise, firmer mattresses may deliver too much support but not enough pressure relief.
While extra-firm mattresses were long thought to be ideal for back pain sufferers, modern research shows that the best bed for back pain is actually a medium-firm mattress. This middle-of-the-road option is supportive enough for your back but also has enough give to align your spine and relieve pressure on your muscles and joints.
Alleviate Back Pain With Leesa
A medium-firm memory foam or hybrid mattress can be your best defense against back aches and pains. They offer a good balance of comfort, support, and pressure relief, so your body can get the rejuvenating rest it needs.
But not all foam mattresses are created equal, so make sure you're investing in a good night's sleep with a memory foam mattress made from high-quality foam layers for optimal, targeted support.
If you’re looking for a new mattress for back pain relief, the Leesa Studio memory foam mattress provides the pressure-relieving, medium-firm support that your spine needs. Give it a try with our 100-night trial, and start waking up refreshed and pain-free!
Is memory foam good for back pain?
Yes, a supportive mattress made with high-quality, pressure-relieving memory foam can help relieve and prevent back pain. Memory foam mattresses conform to the shape of your body for proper spinal alignment and pressure relief. If you sleep hot, there are also cooling gel memory foam mattresses designed specifically for hot sleepers.
What type of mattress do doctors recommend for back pain?
Experts generally recommend a medium-firm hybrid or memory foam mattress for back-pain sufferers. These types of mattresses will give you a good balance of support and comfort to help relieve your back pain. Latex foam mattresses can work as well, but they tend to be less affordable mattress options, and some people, especially side sleepers, find them too firm.
Does a mattress make a difference with back pain?
Yes! Your mattress can have a huge impact on your back pain, and a supportive, cushioning memory foam mattress or hybrid mattress can help alleviate and prevent back pain. And when it comes to firmness, medium-firm mattresses hit the sweet spot, offering better spinal alignment and pressure point relief than a softer or firmer mattress.
What is the best memory foam mattress topper for back pain?
If a too-firm bed is contributing to your back pain, a quality memory foam mattress topper with a softer feel may offer some relief. However, if your mattress is too soft or old and saggy to provide adequate support, a mattress topper likely won’t make any real difference. You’ll be better off investing in a new medium-firm, pressure-relieving mattress that offers both the support and comfort your back needs.