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Due to a sedentary lifestyle and long hours sitting, back pain has become one of the most common health complaints in the western world. According to the National Institute of Health, 80% of adults in the United States suffer from back pain.
However, the chair or couch are not the only culprits in this scenario. Many people don’t sleep on the right type of mattress and this affects the way their spine sits during the night. In addition, if you sleep on a surface that’s too firm or too soft for your needs, you’ll wake up stiff and with joint pains.
So, if you’re tired of waking up feeling like an 80-year-old you need to take a look at our guide for the best mattresses for back pain. We also reviewed some of the best models for people who already suffer from back pain, so make sure to continue reading!
The best mattresses for back pain in 2021
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Considered the ideal mattress for back sleepers, the AS2 hybrid is a design with a medium-firm feel and plenty of ventilation. Now, the reason the AS2 is our top choice when it comes to the best mattresses for back pain is the combination of coils and memory foam.
The memory foam layers have a plant-based open-cell structure (called Bio-Pur) that allows air to move through and take care of the heat. But it also confers softness and contouring for the sleeper, who can enjoy a relaxing sensation without feeling like they are trapped in the sand (as it happens with standard memory foam designs).
Underneath the memory foam layers, there is the core of the mattress made from individually wrapped coils distributed on zones of support. This layer is the one that keeps the mattress responsive and bouncy, while also aligning the spine and helping relieve tension.
- Combination of memory foam and coils
- Zoned support system
- Springy and comfortable surface
- Medium-firm feel
- The memory foam may have some off-gassing
While this mattress has no springs, it still has a medium-firm feel and a bouncy surface. This is due to the organic latex foam used to make the core.
In fact, the Avocado Latex mattress is endorsed by the American Chiropractor Association! This is due to the unique pattern of the latex core designed to reduce tension and provide optimal back support where needed. The top foam layer is designed with concave peaks at the bottom in order to inhibit motion transfer and create three different zones of support. These zones contour to the natural curves of the body and keep the spine in alignment.
- Can offer back pain relief and motion isolation
- 100% organic materials
- Hypoallergenic surface
- It is a medium-firm with a bit of a firmer feel
- The mattress is a bit heavy
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Puffy Lux is hypoallergenic, medium-firm, and can support the needs of all sleepers. It’s also an all-foam design (4 layers), which may seem odd when talking about the best mattresses for back pain.
So why did we choose the review and add this mattress to this top?
Well, Puffy is a brand well-known for the ingenuity of their methods and the power of their research department. So, they managed to create two different layers of custom-made memory foam called the Puffy Cooling Cloud and the Body Adapting Dual Cloud Foam (both proprietary trademarks).
The first layer is in charge of contouring, comfort, and keeping the sleeper at the ideal body temperature for sleep. The second layer (exclusive to the Lux mattress) is a special blend of memory foam designed to provide maximum care and attention to the body’s pressure points.
Lastly, everything is supported by the Firm Core Support layer designed especially for proper spine alignment while eliminating pressure points.
- An all-foam design
- Contouring and comfortable for all sleepers
- Revolutionary support and spine alignment
- Cooling surface
- It’s still a memory foam mattress (for those who don’t fancy the material)
- Edge support is a bit weak
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The combination of memory foam and innersprings make this one of the best mattresses for people who usually wake up feeling creaky. Also, due to the layer of individually wrapped coils, edge support is impressive (it’s also reinforced by stronger coils). This means sleepers can sit on the edge (to put their shoes on, for instance) or even sleep without fearing they’ll fall off if they get too close to the edge.
Now, even though this is an innerspring design, it is so soft and contouring that it’s difficult to believe there are any coils. This happens due to the three layers of modified memory foam at the top of the coils. These provide softness while the coils spring back and keep the spine supported.
Of course, the surface is bouncy, but there is little to no motion transfer, so you can enjoy a great night’s sleep even if your partner likes to fuss around on their side.
- An innerspring mattress with the comfort of an all-foam design
- Designed to hit those pressure points
- Great edge support
- A bit tall for some bed frames (13″)
- It is heavier than an all-foam design
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The Saatva Classic mattress is the one that gets closer to the definition of an innerspring design than any other on our list.
As a side note, we’re not saying that an innerspring is best for sleepers with back pain, but the support of the coils is more efficient in these designs. So, if this is what you need, you should consider the Saatva Classic.
Now, the reason you feel the bounciness and support of the coils stems from the fact that there are two different layers of coils. First, there is the layer at the base made with 416 tempered steel 13-gauge, that keeps the mattress durable in time. Next, there is a layer of 884 individually wrapped steel coils (14.5-gauge) that provide support and keep the surface responsive while limiting motion control.
Also, in between the two layers of coils, there is a layer of active wire high-density memory foam for enhanced back support. Lastly, the mattress is reinforced with high-density foam rails that keep the edges from collapsing.
Of course, everything is topped by a 3″ Euro pillow top covered with organic cotton for increased comfort and contouring.
- Two layers of supportive coils
- A layer of memory foam for added spinal support
- Fluffy and contouring pillow-top
- Hypoallergenic surface
- Impressive edge support
- The cover cannot be removed for washing
- This is a rather heavy mattress
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This is a two-sided mattress which means that, when sleepers get bored of one side, they can just flip it over and try the other side. Moreover, buyers can choose between different levels of firmness or similar ones (for each usable side).
As a hybrid design with Talalay latex foam, this is a great surface for people who like a bit of spring in their bed. Of course, the individually wrapped coils prevent motion transfer (in case you share the bed with a partner or a particularly energetic pet). Moreover, the combination of latex and coils is ideal for support of the spine.
The mid-layer is made from 1000 smart support coils that compress and extend based on your movements and your body weight distribution. Lastly, the coils provide edge-to-edge support, so you’ll be safe if your dog takes most of the bed.
- Double-sided mattress, with different firmness options
- A combination of latex and coils
- Hypoallergenic surface
- Good back support and bounciness
- A bit heavier than other designs
It is no secret that people need a good night to function the next day optimally. However, an uninterrupted eight hours of shut-eye is not feasible for anyone.
According to the National Institute of Health, about 80% of adults living in the United States suffer from chronic or acute back pain. Those suffering from back pain find it more challenging to do everyday activities due to the pain.
Not only that, but the majority of back pain sufferers also report having sleeping problems. Numerous research shows that the pain and discomfort often keep them up at night, or if they are already asleep, jolt them awake.
There are numerous back pain causes, ranging from congenital sources, degenerative and nerve and spinal cord problems, injuries, and non-spine sources. However, your mattress can also be a contributing factor.
Old mattresses have already formed lumps and indentations or have already sagged due to time and frequency of use. Due to this, the bed cannot sufficiently and adequately support the sleeper anymore.
Old mattresses end up misaligning the body’s position, causing the spine to arch uncomfortably and placing undue stress and pressure on specific body parts.
When your mattress is making you feel this way, then it is perhaps time to replace it.
Types of Back Pain
Just as there are different causes for back pain, various types can be classified in numerous ways.
Generally, doctors often classify back pain based on its frequency- either acute or chronic.
Acute back pain
Acute back pain is a sharp and intense kind of pain; however, they come in short and rapid intervals. Often, acute back pain is a result of injuries to one’s muscles and ligaments, such as bad falls, sprains, and the like.
Chronic back pain
Compared to acute back pain, chronic types are more persistent and can last for longer durations. The pain intensity differs from a sharp and intense one to one that constitutes a dull ache and soreness.
Chronic back pain can sometimes be due to an old injury; however, this type does not always point to a clear and immediate source.
Another way to classify different kinds of back pain is through the body area affected.
Lower back pain
When we talk of back pain, lower back pain is the most common. This pain radiates around the lumbar region, affecting the five lowest vertebrae in the spine.
Lower back pain is primarily due to muscle sprain and tension, which can spring to more complicated problems in the future. There are numerous sources such as herniated or ruptured disks, compression fractures, spinal stenosis, and the like.
Your mattress can also be a significant contributor to lower back pain. Whether the mattress might be too old, or it might be too soft or too firm, the bed might offer enough support. As such, your lower body sags into the material, which bends the spine in an unnatural curve.
Holding this position for extended periods places undue stress and pressure on the muscles, effectively straining them to develop back pain.
Middle back pain
The middle back is described as the area between the lumbar spine and rib cage and is the body part that keeps the body stable in its movements.
Middle back pain is not as frequent as lower back pain; however, it still quite as painful and bothersome. This pain is usually due to disc damages, fractures, muscle or ligament injuries, nerve compressions, etc. It can also be an offshoot from underlying severe issues like organ problems, tumors, etc.
A poor mattress can also cause aching and stiffness in the middle back area due to a lack of spinal support and poor posture.
Upper back pain
Upper back pain is also not that common, but it occurs more frequently than mid-back pains. Here, the pain occurs in the thoracic region, which is the area between the rib cage up to your lower neck and involves twelve vertebrae in the ribs.
Again, they are not everyday pains due to their position and function. Nevertheless, upper back pain causes fractures, injuries, damaged discs, and other vertebrae problems. This pain might also be an indicator of serious underlying health problems.
If your mattress or pillow does not adequately support your upper back and shoulder, then it might place unnecessary pressure on the thoracic region, resulting in upper back pains.
Regardless of what type of back pain you are experiencing, make sure to consult a doctor, especially when the pain gets too much.
Back Pain and your Sleeping Position
Aside from the mattress, your sleeping position can also be a significant contributor to back pain. Each sleeping position assumes a different posture, creating different sets of pressure points. A good mattress should be able to alleviate this pressure and provide support.
For a side sleeper, their main pressure points are in the shoulders, hips, and thighs. Their mattress should have excellent body-conforming abilities to cushion these areas. It should also be firm enough to support their weight and maintain proper body alignment adequately.
Sleeping on your back places all the pressure in the lumbar or lower back area. Hence, you will see that most back sleepers are also mostly complaining about lower back pains.
The mattress should be firm enough to support their weight and keep their body aligned. A too-soft mattress will make sleepers sink, arching the spine uncomfortably. On the other hand, a too-firm bed cannot accommodate the spine’s natural curve and may, instead cause stiffness and aches.
Most of the pressure is on the neck and the lumbar or lower back area in this sleeping position. Stomach sleepers would do well with a mattress that can sufficiently support their weight and maintain spinal alignment while also alleviating their necks’ tension.
How to Choose the Best Mattress for Back Pain
Choosing a mattress ultimately boils down to one’s preferences. While no mattress type or style works for everyone, there are still some factors that you need to consider making the most out of your mattress.
However, mattresses come in various characteristics that you have to consider to be burdensome, especially for beginners, to try and buy one. But you do not have to worry. This buying guide will list down all the factors you need to consider when looking for one.
Type of Mattress
Choosing the type of mattress is crucial as this can significantly affect your sleep quality. Below are the most common mattress types available in the market.
Foam mattresses are pretty popular due to their excellent body-conforming quality. In other words, they “hug” the sleeper, cushioning their pressure points and supporting overall body weight. Because of this, foam beds help maintain proper body alignment and can easily accommodate any sleeping position.
Foam beds are made from different foam layers stacked on top of each other. Memory foam layers are the most popular among households. However, some brands use other materials such as polyurethane (polyfoam), latex, and the like.
These beds are also quite durable, having an average lifespan of five to six years. Moreover, they are widely available since they are easy to manufacture. As such, you can find one within your budget.
However, be careful in using low-quality ones as they easily sag and get worn out. Foam mattresses also tend to get hot, making them uncomfortable for some users. It also has little to no edge support, which is not ideal for those sharing their beds.
Latex support core and layers characterize latex mattresses. These components are either natural, synthetic, or a combination of the two.
Like foam mattresses, latex beds also have good body-conforming abilities, albeit not to the same extent. Nevertheless, it still provides enough cushion to alleviate pressure points.
Due to their construction, latex beds also have a “bouncy” quality which enables the beds to quickly respond to the occupant’s weight and provide the needed support. However, some back pain sufferers might not be too keen on the bounce.
Latex beds are durable, with most lasting seven to eight years. However, they can be expensive with their material and construction and may not be available in some areas.
Innerspring mattresses are the traditional beds many grew up and are familiar with. As in their name, they are composed of a spring/coil support layer and topped with foam layers.
These mattresses are pretty cheap and are widely available. Due to the spring/coil component, they provide excellent airflow, keeping the bed cool.
However, because of their construction, they are not ideal for back pain sufferers. They have poor body-contouring abilities due to having fewer foam layers, and some find their spring/coil layer uncomfortable.
Moreover, they tend to sag or form indentations over time, which might misalign the spine.
Hybrid mattresses are a blend of the “best” characteristics of innerspring and foam mattresses. As such, they have a coil/spring support layer topped with high-quality foam layers, either made of memory foam, latex, or other materials.
Many back pain sufferers prefer using hybrid mattresses. For one, their foam layers have top-notch body-conforming abilities, taking some of the stress and pressure off affected areas. Moreover, the coil/spring layer provides a stable base and further enhances the bed’s contouring abilities.
Their construction also allows constant airflow, keeping the occupant cool and comfortable throughout the night. They are also moderately durable, with an average lifespan of six to seven years.
However, hybrid mattresses might be the most expensive among all mattress types. Their construction also makes transport difficult since they are heavy.
Airbed mattresses are pretty new in the sleeping community. They are known for their air support core and topped with foam layers. What makes them popular is that users can manually adjust their firmness levels via a remote or smartphone app.
Back pain sufferers can significantly benefit from this quality since they can dictate the precise amount of comfort and support they need.
However, airbed mattresses are quite expensive due to their high technology. They are also tricky to find since they are not available in some areas.
Airbeds also require more maintenance compared to other mattress types. Moreover, replacements can be pricey.
The firmness level of your mattress ultimately depends on the user’s preferences. However, this factor is especially crucial for back pain sufferers since it determines how well the bed can support and alleviate back pain.
A too-soft mattress is not ideal as this causes your body to sink too deeply into the material. It cannot support some areas to the point that it might twist and strain them out of alignment.
On the other hand, a too-firm mattress will not support the natural curve of the spine. As a result, the occupant might feel too stiff and have a hard time adjusting.
Firmness levels are rated on a 1-10 scale, which are listed below:
Extra Soft (1-2)
Extra soft firmness levels make for a plush bed. These beds are not quite common and are merely cited for information purposes.
While it might be comfortable, it fails to provide enough support to your spine and body. You might find yourself sinking too deeply.
Mattresses of this firmness level come in two types: deep cushion hug abilities or deep-contour memory bed. With this level, these mattresses allow the user to sink 1.5 inches to 3 inches into the material considerably.
This firmness level is ideal for side sleepers since it sufficiently supports while providing comfort and relieving pressure. However, this sinkage might do more harm than good for stomach and back sleepers.
Most of the population, not just back pain sufferers, prefer these firmness levels since they provide enough support and comfort. Most mattresses in the market have this firmness level, and they can accommodate different sleeping positions.
Firm or hard mattresses are ideal for people who prefer firmer surfaces and those that dislike the “hugging” feeling softer beds give.
However, most back pain sufferers tend to stay away from these levels since they can be uncomfortable.
Extra Hard (9-10)
Like the extra soft beds, extra hard mattresses are not typical and are cited for information purposes. With this level, the mattress does not sink under the occupant, nor does it provide any “hugging” abilities.
However, when choosing your mattress’s firmness level, you also need to consider both the occupant’s body weight and sleeping position.
The body weight will determine how much the user will sink into the material. If they dip too far, a medium-balanced bed cannot provide enough support and comfort.
Sleeping position is also vital since the different postures make for distinct pressure points. For example, firmer mattresses are ideal for stomach sleepers whereas, soft to medium mattresses are recommended for back and side sleepers.
Here is a chart that can help you:
|Side Sleepers||Back Sleepers||Stomach Sleepers|
|Lightweight Sleepers (< 130 lbs.)||Soft (3) to medium-soft (4-5) mattresses||Medium-soft (4) to medium (5-6)||Soft (3) to medium-soft (4-5)|
|Average Sleepers (130 – 230 lbs.)||Medium (5) to medium-firm mattresses (5-6)||Medium (5) to medium-firm mattresses (5-6)||Medium-soft (4) to medium (5-6)|
|Heavier Sleepers (> 230 lbs.)||Medium-firm (5-6) to firm mattresses (8)||Medium-firm (5-6) to firm mattresses (8)||Medium-firm (6) to firm (7-8)|
Responsiveness and Pressure Relief
Regardless of the type of back pain you are suffering, most stress and pressure condenses in the back area. A good mattress should have excellent body-conforming abilities to eliminate some of the strain and stress off on that area.
Moreover, the mattress needs to be moderately responsive to the occupant’s body. This characteristic makes the bed feel more lifted, preventing that sinking feeling. It also ideal for fussy sleepers, enabling them to adjust their positions and move throughout the night quickly.
It would help if you also considered the breathability of your mattress. While not directly related to relieving back pain, this quality helps provide a more comfortable sleep.
Imagine: your mattress adequately supports your body, relieves all your pressure points, and keeps your spine elevated; however, you still would not be able to sleep since you feel stuffy and sweaty at night.
A decent number of sleepers tend to overheat and sweat at night. Consider getting a mattress infused with cooling materials like copper, gel, etc.
Some mattress types provide better airflow than others. For example, memory foam beds tend to get a bit hot. However, there are now variations that come with cooling layers. Innerspring, latex, and hybrid mattress have excellent temperature regulation abilities due to their construction and materials.
Regardless of its type, brand, and other characteristics, mattresses can still considerably burn a hole through one’s pocket. To save some time, effort, and money, it helps set a budget first to narrow down your options effectively.
To start, you can research different items first to help you identify and determine the qualities you want. Once you have selected your non-negotiables, you can then compare various brands that offer beds that have all these qualities.
Mattresses usually run $1,000 to $3,000 with varying price differences. You can already find an excellent bed within this price range.
You can also add these sleeping accessories to alleviate pain further and enhance sleep quality.
Pillows are great accessories for back pain sufferers since they help relieve the pressure on the shoulder and maintain head and spinal alignment; however, you need to select the proper loft or thickness.
To determine the proper loft, factor in your shoulder width, body weight, and firmness level. Here are the different loft categories:
- Low loft (less than 3 inches)
Low loft pillows are ideal for above-average weight sleepers and those with narrower shoulders. It is also best to pair this pillow with a soft to medium-soft mattress. With this, you can avoid straining the neck and provide support to your shoulders.
- Medium loft (3 inches to 5 inches)
Medium loft pillows are best for average sleepers and those sleeping in medium-balanced mattresses. This pillow lifts the head high enough to maintain proper spinal alignment and relieve shoulder pressure.
- High loft (more than 5 inches)
High loft pillows are best for lightweight and broad-shouldered sleepers. It is also best to pair with medium-firm to firm beds.
Lightweight sleepers do not quickly sink into the bed, which might strain their neck and shoulders. A high loft pillow will compensate for that. Broad-shouldered sleepers can also benefit from high loft pillows since it helps maintain proper alignment and alleviate the stress on their shoulders.
Aside from the pillow beneath your head, you can also opt to place pillows beneath your hips and knees.
Mattress toppers provide an additional layer of cushioning and comfort to your mattress. You usually find them in firmer beds since this helps “soften” them, although some mattress toppers increase the bed’s firmness.
They are also a great alternative if you are not ready to replace your mattress just yet. Some users use mattress toppers to test out the feel of certain materials.
Toppers are made from various materials such as foam, feathers, latex, wool, etc. They are generally cheap, not going over $150. They also vary in thickness, ranging from a thickness of 1 inch to 3 inches.
However, mattress toppers are not meant as mattress replacements. As such, it would not do much to improve your sagging or damaged mattress.
Here are some additional tips to help you out in looking for the best mattress:
To find the best mattress, it is always best to test it out first. That way, you get a feel of the material and ascertain if it’s comfortable for you. If you can, try lying down on the mattress for a few minutes when shopping.
Moreover, look for a mattress that comes with a sleeping trial period. These periods usually range from one to thirty nights, depending on the company.
If you find that you are not comfortable with the mattress, the sleeping trial enables you to return it for replacements or full/partial refunds. Just make sure to thoroughly read the terms and conditions since some brands charge for shipping.
When to shop?
There is another reason to be excited about the holidays – mattresses usually go on sale! Most stores have them on markdowns and at huge discounts.
Online shopping sites also do the same. Aside from the discounts, sites also offer voucher codes, coupons, and even buy-one-take-one deals.
What type of mattress is best for back pain?
Most sleepers with chronic back pains prefer hybrid mattresses due to their construction. This mattress’ coil/spring layer prevents the user from sinking too deeply into the bed while its comfort layers provide enough contouring and pressure relief.
Regardless, the mattress should ideally suit the occupant’s body type and sleeping position.
Why does my bed make my lower back hurt?
Sometimes, your mattress can be the source of your back pains.
Over time, your mattress will sag or form lumps and indentations. In turn, these qualities tend to misalign body posture and place unnecessary stress and pressure on body parts, causing various aches and pains.
Is a latex mattress good for back pain?
Latex mattresses are also suitable for back pain.
Like memory foam beds, these mattresses are also known for their excellent support and body-relieving abilities. The bed “hugs” the sleeper, aligning their spine while also relieving pressure points to minimize joint and muscle pains.
Is a memory foam mattress bad for your back?
Yes, many users suffering from back pain often pick memory foam mattresses.
Memory foam mattresses are known for their top-notch body-contouring abilities. Since they “cradle” the occupant, these beds effectively lessen the stress on pressure points. Moreover, they provide sufficient support to maintain proper body alignment.
Is a firm mattress better for back pain?
Firmer mattresses do not always help alleviate back pain.
Your mattress’s firmness level should depend on the occupant’s body type, weight, and preferred sleeping position. Look for a bed that is firm enough to maintain spinal alignment while being soft enough for pressure relief.
What firmness of the mattress is best for lower back pain?
It is standard advice for sleepers suffering from back pains to sleep on a firmer mattress. However, a more accurate way would be to consider the occupant’s body weight and sleeping position.
A good mattress should be able to support the user while at the same time, provide enough comfort to relieve pains.
Is it better to sleep on a hard or soft mattress?
The firmness level ultimately depends on the user’s preference. However, to alleviate back pains, one should consider their body weight and sleeping position. An excellent mattress is hard enough to support proper body alignment and soft enough body contouring and pressure relief.
What mattress do chiropractors recommend?
Many chiropractors recommend memory foam, latex, and hybrid mattress to alleviate back pain – with hybrid variants as the best choice. Out of all the mattress types, these choices offer a blend of support and pressure relief. Moreover, these beds are also quite durable and are decently breathable.
Here is more help: Choosing a Mattress for Back Pain – VIDEO
OUR TOP CHOICE FOR THE BEST MATTRESS FOR BACK PAIN
Today’s winner among the best mattress for back pain is the Amerisleep AS2 Hybrid Mattress.
It offers supreme relief for pressure points and back pain and gives us peace of mind with a solid trial period. It is also made of high quality and durable materials that create a bouncy and healthy surface.