Pain Be Gone: How to Find the Best Supportive Mattress for Back Pain

By: Ryan Poppie Reading Time: 6 minutes

man waking with back pain

Did you know that back pain is the leading cause of disability worldwide?  In the US, total back pain relief spending is $50 billion annually. For some people, alleviating back pain is as easy as switching their mattress.

How you sleep and what you sleep on impacts back pain. Not only can a better night’s sleep relieve back pain it can also prevent it.

If you wake up with a sore back every morning, you need the best mattress for back pain. In this guide, we’ll tell you exactly what to look for.

What Causes Back Pain?

It’s estimated that 80% of Americans will experience back pain at some point. It’s among the most causes of missing work and going to the doctor. The most common symptoms of back pain are:

  • aching back muscles
  • pain radiating down the leg
  • shooting or stabbing pain in the back
  • pain that gets worse with activities such as walking, standing, bending, or lifting
  • pain that gets better when you lay down

Strains on the muscle or ligaments of your back can cause back pain. It may also be the result of a ruptured or bulging disc. But back pain might also be caused by health conditions such as arthritis and osteoporosis.

These common back issues may result from injury, occupational stress, age, or just the daily stresses of life. Or it can be a combination of any of the above.

And sleeping on a bad mattress is only making it worse. A mattress that doesn’t align your spine and alleviate pressure on pressure points can contribute to, or even cause back pain.


woman waking with back pain

Your Mattress and Your Back Pain

You’re putting pressure on your spine throughout your daily activities, even if it’s mostly walking or sitting. Over the day, your spine is compressed. Poor posture and lack of exercise can make that compression even more profound.

But when you sleep, you take the pressure off of your spine. It’s a chance to release all that built-up pressure from your vertebrae and stretch out your spine.

Then why do so many people with back pain tend to feel like the pain is worse after a stormy night’s sleep? The answer likely lies in their mattress – so to speak.

On a mattress that’s too soft, you might sink too deeply into the mattress. That means your spine and joints aren’t correctly aligned while you sleep. But the same can be said for a mattress that’s too stiff and hard.

You’re not getting a comfortable sleep without the right degree of support. That can lead to tossing and turning throughout the night, which only works to aggravate whatever is causing your back pain. To make things worse, if you sleep in a different position, like your stomach, you could put extra pressure and strain on your spine.

If you wake up with a sore back more often than not, investing in the right mattress could be life-changing. It can make it manageable and less debilitating if it doesn’t alleviate the pain entirely. And a good night’s sleep improves all aspects of life.

When It’s Time for A New Mattress

The typical mattress has a lifespan of seven to ten years. That rough estimate doesn’t account for factors like kids jumping on it, the amount of weight on the mattress, and the quality of the original product.

You’ll know it’s time for a new mattress when you notice it sagging or developing a lumpy, uneven surface. And if you’re waking up with back pain that has no other explanation, you can be sure your mattress contributes to it.

best mattress for back pain

The Best Mattress for Back Pain

Choosing the best mattress for back pain is a balancing act between finding the right level of support and finding something comfortable according to your preferences. You need something that encourages proper alignment and relieves the pressure from your joints while you sleep.

With that in mind, we’ve developed a list of what to look for when choosing a mattress for back pain management. Keep these tips in mind when you start your search.

Personal Preference

Although many people with back pain find relief from certain types of mattresses (like medium-firm mattresses, for example), there is no one-size-fits-all regarding the best mattress for back pain. You’ll have to choose your mattress with your own needs in mind.

A good rule of thumb to remember is that any mattress that doesn’t cause pain and stiffness is a good mattress for you. And be sure to keep in mind that your overall comfort is just as crucial to a good night’s sleep.

So how do you know what your personal preference is?

Try and recall the last time you had a great sleep. This could have been at a friend’s home, a hotel, or elsewhere. Think about what it was about that mattress that helped you sleep so well, and go forward with those clues in mind.

Medium Firmness

One of the most important things to consider when looking for a mattress for back pain is the degree of support. Mattresses are rated on a scale of one to ten according to their firmness. They range from very soft to very firm.

How firm your mattress is will impact your sleeping posture. Without the proper support, your muscles are strained, and your joints receive too much pressure. And this will all contribute to back pain.

While doctors used to recommend a firm mattress for back pain, that’s probably not the best choice.

Consider this: when you sleep on your back, your back, hips, and shoulders touch the mattress the most and with the most pressure. Your hips, shoulders, and heels protrude from the bed on a firm mattress. That means there’s a space between the lower back and the mattress.

Meaning that on a firm mattress, there’s no support for the lumbar region of your back. Your lower spine is forced to arch up from the mattress. This leaves no support for your knees, causes your head to tilt backward, and doesn’t promote natural alignment and decompression.

A medium-firm mattress gives the right amount of support to your natural curves and the spine’s alignment. They allow the right parts of your body to sink in without too much give.

Medium-firm mattresses cushion your hips and shoulders for a comfortable resting position. And because it supports your lumbar region, your muscles won’t be sore, and you’ll get a better night’s sleep.

Don’t Buy Based on Price

Cost shouldn’t be your determining factor when purchasing your mattress. Thin and inexpensive mattresses tend to be unsupportive and uncomfortable. At the same time, mattresses with thicker padding and more coils are more expensive than memory foam mattresses.

Look around for the best value but keep quality in mind. And remember that a higher price tag doesn’t always mean a better mattress. You should shop around and compare costs and components to maximize your money while getting the best fit for a comfortable and supportive sleep.

changing mattress base

Consider Changing Your Base

If your back pain persists even after picking the best mattress for back pain, you may need to consider changing your base. The foundation of your mattress has an impact on your comfort, too.

Think about switching out your box spring or the base of your bed for an adjustable base. This allows you to adjust the height and angle of your bed.

Test The Mattress

To know whether a mattress for back pain meets your criteria, test it out. You should lay on the mattress for at least five minutes to understand its comfort. And if you share your bed with someone, they should test it simultaneously.

Is It Time for a New Mattress?

Many factors, including injury, stress, and health conditions like arthritis, can cause back pain. And while your mattress may not be the only cause of your back pain, it contributes most to it. Without the proper support, your spine is thrown off the alignment, and your joints are under too much pressure.

The best mattress for back pain will suit your preferences and give you the support you need to change that. Look for a well-priced, medium-firm mattress, and test it out before you buy. And there’s no better place to start than checking out our shop.


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About Ryan Poppie

Ryan Poppie, President and Chief Bedmaker at The Beloit Mattress Company. He's not just a mattress maker but a true expert in sleep. Leading a 4th generation family business, Ryan uses his deep sleep knowledge to ensure every mattress made gives his customers the best rest possible. Each custom mattress is handcrafted to show his love for sleep and how it can improve our lives. With his team, Ryan's passion is to improve your quality of life through a better night's sleep.

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