Doctors And Reviewers Can’t Say Enough Good Things About These Mattresses For Back Pain

Let’s not mince words: Back pain is a b*tch. And more often than not, your…

Doctors And Reviewers Can’t Say Enough Good Things About These Mattresses For Back Pain

Let’s not mince words: Back pain is a b*tch. And more often than not, your mattress is the culprit. The clear choice (you know, along with seeing a doc if the pain gets too out of hand) is to upgrade your mattress to one that’s helpful for back pain probs. But how?

First and foremost, comfort is key—along with finding something that minimizes the pressure on points like your back, butt, and shoulders, says Santhosh A. Thomas, DO, associate medical director of the Center for Spine Health at the Cleveland Clinic, Richard E. Jacobs Medical Center. “We spend almost a third of our life in bed, so it is important to have something that is comfortable and meets your needs for good sleep,” he says.

Sounds simple enough, right? Eh…not so much. “Unfortunately, there [are] no set algorithms or scales with which everyone can choose the perfect mattress,” says Leigh Hanke, MD, MS, assistant professor of clinical orthopedics at Yale School of Medicine. And that’s because what might be comfortable for you isn’t necessarily a smooth sleeping experience for someone else (and thus, can negate any benefit from possible back support)—plus, every brand rates the firmness of its mattresses by its own terms.

That being said, there are a few basics to mattress shopping that all women should know about, especially if you’re dealing with back pain.

What women with back pain should consider when looking for a mattress:

Firmness. Though you’ll definitely want something that’s more firm than soft, exactly how firm should be determined by your body weight, says Carleara Weiss, PhD, and a member of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. “For example, medium firmness seems ideal for people weighing approximately 130 pounds and satisfactory for back and side sleepers under 230 pounds.” The higher your body weight, the more firm you may need your mattress to be, thought it really depends on the individual, as sleep preferences differ from person to person (and again, comfort is king!).

Where you experience back pain also impacts what kinds of firmness you should look for. “The general concept when thinking about buying a mattress is that low back pain can be alleviated with a mattress that is on the firmer end of the spectrum rather than softer or squishier,” Dr. Hanke explains. If you don’t wake up with low back pain and you like a softer experience, you can prob get away with a less-firm mattress.

Sleeping position. The way you sleep determines what areas you put the most pressure on, says Weiss, which is pretty useful information when it comes to buying a mattress. Say you’re a back sleeper. You might prefer a mattress that alleviates pressure points in the lumbar (low back) area, says Weiss, and you’d likely fare better considering medium-firm mattresses, as they often provide good spine support. “On the other hand, back sleepers should avoid extra-firm mattress as those are less flexible and may fail to adjust to the lumbar curve,” adds Weiss.

Stomach sleepers put pressure on their neck, in addition to the lumbar area, so they may prefer a firm mattress since it’s ideal for spine support and helps alleviate neck tension (by preventing the lower body from sinking into the mattress and putting the neck at an even more intense angle).

For side sleepers, Weiss also recommends a medium-firm mattress. “Shoulders and hips are pressure points for side sleepers. A medium-firm mattress would be ideal for this sleep position while still flexible to the body curvature.”

Materials. There’s no one-size fits all answer for which material is best for back pain, says Weiss. Memory foam is ideal, but only when supported by a firm or medium-firm core. “A mattress exclusively made out of memory foam tends to deform and increase pressure in sensitive areas,” explains Weiss.

Then there’s the hybrid mattress, which is designed so that each side of the mattress offers a different level of firmness. They tend to be super supportive. “Hybrid mattresses are growing in popularity as they promote excellent support with an innerspring core and comfort with top layers of foam, cotton, or other materials.”

And don’t rule out springs, even if they seem old-fashioned, says Weiss. “Their sturdy metal coils can be a good source of support,” and when they’re paired with a layer of foam, they can totally be comfortable, adds Weiss.

Finding the right mattress can be a matter of trial and error and depends on your budget, but you don’t have to go into the decision without the proper information. To get you started, here are 16 mattress mattress recommendations for those who deal with back pain, straight from sleep docs.