Table of Contents
- Back Pain: What Causes It and How to Relieve It
- Best Mattress For Back Pain – Buying Guide
- Reviews: Best Mattresses for Back Pain
- 1. Sweetnight Breeze 10 Inch Full-Size Mattress
- 2. Zinus 12 Inch Gel-Infused Memory Foam Mattress, King
- 3. Sleep Innovations Shiloh 12-inch Memory Foam Queen Mattress
- 4. Novilla 10 inch Gel Memory Foam Mattress, Queen
- 5. Ashley Chime 12 Inch Memory Foam Mattress, Queen
- Final Word
Anyone who has suffered from back pain knows how the wrong mattress can worsen your condition. But shopping for a mattress that eases your pain can leave you dazed and sleepy. Where do you start? Memory foam, innerspring, or hybrid? Just what is the best mattress for back pain? We went to find out.
After a long day grinding it out at work, all the body wants is to sleep and rest. Sleep enables the body to repair itself and create new muscle tissue. Even a quick nap in the middle of the day is known to improve alertness, boost memory, reduce fatigue, and promote relaxation.
Unfortunately, millions of people around the world struggle for good, restorative sleep because of back pain. Faced with another day at work, you wake up grumpy, tired, and in even more pain.
So, while mattress shopping isn’t nearly as therapeutic as shopping for clothes, shoes, or a couch, finding one that provides your body with the right balance between comfort and support can be the best pain therapy you can get.
Our mattress buying guide will show how the right mattress can transform your life. Also, we tore down 5 of the best mattresses for back pain to expose what lies beneath the luxurious quilted coverings to find out how that translates into the claimed benefits.
There’s a lot to get through, but first, let’s understand what back pain is and how big a problem it is.
Back Pain: What Causes It and How to Relieve It
Back pain is an ongoing health challenge for millions of Americans. It is the leading cause of disability for people below 45 years of age. Worldwide, it is the leading cause of disability, with prevalence higher in women than men.
Medically speaking, back pain is a symptom of an underlying health condition and not disease. This is why only 10 percent of cases are successfully diagnosed. But how does back pain present?
Our backs literally carry us around. They give our bodies the support they need to walk, lift things, and do various tasks. To function the way it does, your back relies on a complex structure that includes muscles, tendons, ligaments, discs, and bones. An injury or problem with any of these can cause back pain.
The majority of people who complain of back pain usually feel it in their lower backs. Some experience it in the upper back. However, the pain can be concentrated anywhere along the spine.
The most common causes of back pain are physical injury and some medical conditions. Medical conditions that commonly cause back pain include osteoporosis, kidney problems, cancer of the spine, shingles, and certain infections. Interestingly, some sleep disorders have also been blamed for back pain.
Back injuries can be due to improperly lifting heavy weights and making awkward and abrupt movements. Poor posture puts stress on your back, sitting, standing, or bending awkwardly for long periods, driving for long periods, and..wait for it… sleeping on a bad mattress are some of the lifestyle triggers of back pain.
How to Relieve Back Pain
Unless caused by a chronic disease or specific genetic factors, back pain usually goes away with time, as long as you don’t engage in activities that aggravate it. Exercising regularly, maintaining an active lifestyle, avoiding unhealthy habits like smoking can improve back pain.
The more mild cases of back pain can be relieved by taking pain killers. Some sufferers also find relief from using cold or hot packs bought from the drugstore. Others use hot water bottles, especially at night when the pain tends to be at its most severe.
The greatest back pain remedy, though, especially for long term sufferers comes from investing in the right mattress.
Why The Right Mattress Matters For Back Pain Sufferers
Of all the pieces of furniture in your home, your choice of a mattress probably has the biggest effect on your physical and mental health. A good mattress gives you a restful night’s sleep, which allows your body and mind to recharge. That mundane piece of bedroom furniture can therefore have a profound effect on your overall health and quality of life.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, only 32 percent of American adults are getting the recommended 7 to 9 hours of good quality sleep. The rest are either depriving themselves of sleep or toss and turn through the night, either because their minds are troubled or their bodies are in pain.
Improving sleep quality trumps increasing sleep quantity
For many ailments of the body and mind, no treatment beats getting sufficient good quality sleep. For that reason, health professionals urge going to bed early. No doubt getting more sleep works, but it is only possible for people who are otherwise healthy and pain-free.
For back pain sufferers, simply lying down and closing your eyes does not necessarily induce sleep. How and where you lie down determines if you can get any sleep at all. For such people, it is not about the number of hours you lie in bed but how many of those you are actually asleep.
In terms of its effect on sleep quality, back pain is a double-edged sword. It’s not enough that you can’t get good quality zzz’s, people who don’t get sufficient, restful sleep:
- tend to overeat,
- struggle to concentrate,
- put on too much weight,
- have a reduced ability to socially interact,
- are susceptible to depression, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and other forms of poor mental and physical health.
While for other people it matters little where you sleep, for back pain sufferers, lying on an uneven and uncushioned surface will trigger or worsen your pain.
To improve sleep quality it is critical that you find a mattress that cushions and supports your back. The best mattresses for back problems will ease your pain, not aggravate it. If changing your mattress can get you just a few hours of restful sleep, the effect on your overall health can be life-changing.
In those few hours of sleep, your body not only rests but has an opportunity to repair itself and create new muscle tissue, which means a healthier you.
Best Mattress For Back Pain – Buying Guide
Back pain sufferers have to invest a little more effort into finding the right mattress. The wrong mattress will make it hard to find a comfortable sleeping position. That in turn makes it difficult to fall asleep. And when you do fall asleep, because the mattress does not fully support your body, you struggle to stay asleep.
The trouble is it can get confusing deciding which mattress is right for your condition. If you buy in a physical store, you will be lucky to find a sales assistant who truly understands your condition and will be honest to tell you that you need to keep searching. Many will try to sell you on their current deals when getting the right mattress is more important than bagging a bargain.
When you buy online, there is no room to haggle on price or try the mattress before buying. But you at least have time to study both the offer and the mattress’s features, though that only helps if you know what features to prioritize. Speaking of that, let’s discuss a few tips for buying the best type of mattress for back pain.
Tips For Buying The Best Mattress For Back Pain
Find 10 people and ask them what to look for in a good mattress for back pain and you are bound to get a few conflicting tips. After all, everyone knows someone who has struggled with the problem. If you are struggling to find the right buying advice, the following tips will help.
- A firm mattress isn’t necessarily better for back pain
A mattress that works for a person with the same type of back pain you suffer from will not necessarily work for you. That’s because there are a lot of variables to consider, including yours and your bedfellow’s sleeping position.
Do not assume that a mattress always has to be firm to give your back the support it needs. Side sleepers, for example, need a firm mattress that will not cause their spine to curve awkwardly. For people who sleep on their backs, a mattress that’s too firm will cause tension on pressure points. Soft mattresses aren’t always better either as they lack spine support.
The correct buying advice is to choose a mattress that is firm enough for your body weight. So what’s firm for one person may be too soft for another. The right mattress will be one that gives the back even support right through the spine. In other words, it is one that is comfortable for you.
2. Choose a mattress with a money-back guarantee
Because there is so much to factor into your selection of the best mattress for a bad back, the actual shopping process can be hit and miss. There is always a chance that a mattress that seems to have all the right features will simply not relieve your pain.
If you keep waking up feeling that your back pain is worse in the morning, it is more likely that your new mattress isn’t working for you. There is no point in keeping a mattress that causes you pain.
So you have to be able to return the mattress if you find it has not lived up to its claimed benefits. Many online mattress retailers offer a ‘comfort guarantee’ or sleep trial of up to 10 weeks, with the promise they will pick the mattress for free if you don’t like it.
3. The type of material the mattress is made from matters
Mattresses are classified for the type of materials they are made from. The different materials determine how well a mattress can align the spine and more closely contour itself around your body as you sleep. So the type of mattress you choose directly affects how well it can alleviate your back pain.
Let’s discuss the different types of mattresses and get a better understanding on how that affects your choice.
Types of Mattresses
The ability to tell different types of mattresses apart can set you well on your way to finding the right mattress for you. There are four types you need to be aware of. Each has different qualities, some of which are especially helpful for back pain sufferers.
Memory foam and latex mattresses are commonly lumped together because they offer the same attributes. Latex mattresses, however, tend to be expensive. Less bouncy than other types, these mattresses offer more pressure point relief.
Memory foam mattresses are excellent for back pain. They are firm yet soft enough to allow the body to find a comfortable position and then perfectly cuddles it around its natural curves. That ensures pressure points like the shoulders and neck are well supported. For these reasons, these mattresses are the best at keeping the spine aligned, which reduces pressure on your back and helps relieve pain.
Air mattresses use compressed air to cushion the body as you sleep. An electric pump fitted on the side of the mattress is used to inflate it. Not as effective at moulding to the body’s shape as memory foam, the mattress’s greatest attribute is you can customize it by inflating it to your desired firmness.
The modern versions of air-filled mattresses feature a remote control that can tell you how much air is in the mattress at any given time. Some also feature separate chambers so you and your partner can customize your beds separately.
Innerspring mattresses are what people have traditionally slept on and still sell well even today. These mattresses feature an inner core of steel coils that produce a bouncy feel and an outer layer of wool or other filling material. That filling can be natural or synthetic, so choose wisely if that matters to you.
While they have not always been comfortable, with modifications like pocketed coils and pillow tops, these mattresses have improved greatly. They now offer excellent general comfort, yet not enough support for people with back pain. These mattresses will eventually sag as the individual springs start to fail.
The hybrid variety combines the attributes of both memory foam and innerspring mattresses. The mattresses feature an inner core of steel springs and one or two layers of latex or memory foam. As a result, they are supportive and provide sufficient cushioning.
Reviews: Best Mattresses for Back Pain
How old is your mattress? If you have recently started experiencing back pain and your mattress is as old as your third grader, it’s time to replace it. Perhaps you are convalescing from a back injury! Investing in a new, more supportive mattress could reduce your pain and help you heal faster.
There is a vast variety of mattresses on the market. It can be overwhelming shopping for one that has the right attributes. Not to worry, though. Because we have invested the effort, you only have to decide between our 5 picks of the top mattresses for back pain:
Sweet Night talks up this mattress’s cooling benefits, which help people who struggle with night sweats. For that benefit, the memory foam mattress has a gel-infused layer that absorbs heat and channels it into the airflow comfort layer beneath. But perhaps what they don’t hype it enough for is how well it relieves back pain.
The mattress slowly adjusts to your body weight and shape, which relieves pressure on your back. Because it moulds to your body shape, this Sweetnight Breeze Gel-Infused Memory Foam Mattress guarantees sleep comfort, which significantly reduces turning and tossing as you sleep. The firmer middle layer ensures ample support for the spine.
The mattress ships tightly vacuum-packed in a mid-sized box and will be fully expanded 72 hours after unboxing. It is offered in three thicknesses; 8 inches, 10 inches, and 12 inches, and two sizes; twin, full size, and queen size.
Make sure you don’t install it upside-down, as one Amazon reviewer did. After laying it the right way, their back pain (which had worsened since they bought the mattress) immediately eased. The zipper must be on the bottom.
The mattress prevents motion transfer, so you can slip into bed without waking your partner with your movements. It aligns the body, whether you sleep on your back, stomach, or side. Sweet Night also claims the mattress reduces snoring.
Make sure to give the mattress up to three full days to fully expand. One con is it off gases, so you have to allow it enough time to air out before using.
|Available Sizes||Twin, full size, queen size|
|Base||Fits all bed frames|
|Best for sleeping position (s)||Side and back sleepers|
As the prestigious Amazon’s Choice badge attests, the Zinus Cooling Green Tea Gel Memory Foam Mattress is one of the best-selling mattresses on Amazon. The affordable price has a lot to do with its wild popularity, but the mattress also has some excellent qualities.
The mattress features three layers, with a soft memory foam top layer, which is two inches thick and is infused with a cooling gel and an odor-busting green tea extract. The middle 3-inch layer of slightly firmer foam (some Amazon reviewers claim this is fiberglass, not memory foam as the manufacturer claims) allows your body heat to gently dissipate. The lower layer is 7 inches of dense foam that gives your spine the support it needs.
Ideal for side and average-weight sleepers, the Zinus 12 inch gel infused green tea mattress perfectly conforms to your body shape for comfortable and restful sleeping. The foam uses natural seed oil, which is more sustainable than chemical oils. The mattress arrives at your doorstep tightly rolled up in a box.
Using the mattress for the first time you will feel a bit of a sink. But it is never so bad that you can’t move about. In fact, it is surprisingly quite supportive and offers notable relief from back pain. For the price it sells for, this mattress is good value.
|Best for sleeping position||Side and back sleepers|
|Available Sizes||Twin, Full, Queen, King|
|Base||Fits all bed frames|
This Shiloh 12″ Memory Foam Mattress from Sleep Innovations takes things up several notches from the Zinus memory foam mattress we reviewed above. The cloudlike memory foam technology the company uses produces a luxuriously more comfortable mattress that cradles your body to keep your back well aligned and supported.
The mattress has two layers, a top thinner one that hugs your body for pressure point relief and a thicker, sturdier 9.5-inch Premium Base Foam that is firmer and delivers the spine support back pain sufferers need. To more closely monitor the quality, Sleep Innovations manufactures all of its mattresses in the USA.
You may have wondered if there is anything to the name ‘Sleep Innovations’. It seems you have the company to thank for the bed-in-a-box innovation that has made mailing mattresses possible and without which mattress brands like Casper would not exist.
Reviews suggest that you would probably pass up this mattress if you tried it in-store as it feels too firm at first. But after lying on it for a few minutes you soon settle in as the mattress contours to your body shape.
Not everyone with back pain is going to feel like a million bucks the next morning, but the majority of reviewers remark that it is super comfortable and supportive. A few hot sleepers also mention sleeping right through on this mattress. We have not found any reviewers who were bold enough to try the wine glass test, but many report minimal motion transfer.
A few reviewers on Amazon say the zipper cover washes well without shrinking. However, the manufacturer advises against this, saying doing that will void the warranty. So be aware of that if you are worried about it staining or getting dirty.
|Available Sizes||Twin, Full, Queen, California King|
|Base||Fits all bed frames|
|Best for sleeping position||Stomach, back, and side sleepers|
The Novilla 10 inch Gel Memory Foam Queen Size Mattress stands out for its low price. That’s about the lowest you can pay for a mattress, so what are you giving up? Some reviewers have complained that the mattress is too firm.
The general sentiment does seem to be that the mattress is on the medium plush side. It offers good support for the back and gives that ‘sinking without actually sinking’ feeling. The mattress combines four layers of memory foam of which one is gel-infused, another is comfort foam, and the base one is high-density foam.
The top gel-infused layer ensures hot sleepers sleep cool through the night while the denser bottom foam aligns your spine. Reviewers on Amazon are moderately satisfied with the mattress’s back pain-relieving qualities which is more than you can ask for at this price point. If you are looking for a mattress for the guest bedroom or RV that won’t break the bank, this one will work just fine.
|Available Sizes||Twin, Full, Queen, King|
|Base||Fits all bed frames|
|Best for sleeping position||All sleeping positions|
The Ashley Chime 12 Inch Medium Firm Memory Foam Mattress has been well-reviewed for the spine support it offers back sleepers, whether you have a large, petite, or average body. However, it does not perform as well for side sleepers.
Judging from buyer testimonies and reviews, this is one of the best mattresses for lower back pain in its class. The memory foam mattress contours the body well to deliver both pressure relief and general sleeping comfort.
There aren’t many complaints about off-gassing and many buyers report the mattress decompressing faster than advertised. However, it is heavy, so you may need another person to unbox it. For its low price, pain-easing qualities, and generous return policy, and long warranty, this mattress is worth the risk.
One wrinkle for us with this mattress is the supposedly generous prorated 10-warranty. The problem with the warranty is it only applies if you use a mattress and box/foundation from the brand. On account of this, the mattress sadly can’t be said to be compatible with all bed frames.
|Available Sizes||Twin, Full, Queen, King|
|Base||A different brand bed frame voids warranty|
|Best for sleeping position||Back and side sleepers|
Check Out More Of Our Mattress Reviews
Here are the 6 Top-Rated Hybrid Mattresses You Can Choose From
We Reviewed 5 Of The Best Memory Foam Mattresses
We Picked and Reviewed the 5 Top-Rated Pillow Top Mattresses
Here Are The 6 Best Cooling Mattresses For Hot Sleepers Available On The Market Today
Here’s The List Of The 5 Top-Rated Gel Memory Foam Mattresses
Here are the 5 Best Cheap Air Mattresses You Can Buy Today
The Best Mattress Brands of 2021 Reviewed
Not necessarily. Some back pain sufferers feel a soft to medium firm mattress gives their spine good support while ensuring sufficient pressure point relief. A mattress that’s too firm will not shape around your body, which creates pressure on your back.
Many back pain sufferers contend that memory foam offers greater pressure point relief because of their ability to contour to the body, which eases back pain. They are also sufficiently firm for the support the spine needs to stay aligned. The more premium quality memory foam mattresses also tend to last longer and not sag as much.
You should try not to go more than 10 years without replacing your mattress. Even the best memory foam mattresses will start to get too soft or sag after 8 years of consistent daily use. Otherwise, don’t wait to replace your mattress if you are waking up with a sore back every morning.
If you didn’t have any back issues before and you notice you are waking up with a sore back, your mattress is likely to blame. It’s more likely the culprit if it is old and is saggy. You will know for certain if after sleeping in a different bed you wake up feeling surprisingly pain-free and well-rested.
For the best mattress for back pain, choose one that’s neither too firm nor too soft. An overly firm mattress may keep your spine aligned but will stress your pressure points and will eventually cause you pain. Too soft and the spine will lack the support it needs to stay curved aligned.
Our research has shown us you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars to get the best mattress for lower back pain. We’ve also learned that memory foam mattresses are the best for bad backs. Thankfully, even the premium ones aren’t crazily expensive.
After considering many options on Amazon and elsewhere online, we settled on the Shiloh 12-inch Medium Firm Memory Foam Queen Mattress from Sleep Innovations as our overall pick for best mattress for lower back pain. It’s made from more premium materials and has tested well for back pain sufferers of different body weights and sleeping positions.