Persistent back pain can significantly disrupt your daily life. If you're in pain, it's worth making sure your mattress isn't making the problem worse, or even causing it. We consulted medical professionals for their advice on the subject, as well as their tips for choosing the best mattress to support spinal health for your preferred sleep style.
If you need to upgrade your sleep setup, there's good news: Black Friday mattress deals bring with them the lowest prices of the year (though if you miss them, there are decent mattress sales all year long).
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What kind of mattress prevents back pain?
"The best type of mattress depends on the person's size, shape, and sleep preferences," says Dr. Kevin Lees, a former clinical chiropractor with more than 20 years of experience who currently works at The Joint Chiropractic (opens in a new tab).
A general rule of thumb is that there should be no gap between your body and the mattress, so that your body is fully supported (a memory foam mattress can be a good option for this, as it will blend into your exact shape). According to Dr. Lees, he also wants his mattress to support him in a natural position, without twisting or bending.
When shopping for a mattress for back pain, you should consider what sleeping position you lie in. If you are a mixed sleeper and change positions throughout the night, search according to your dominant sleep style.
Dr. Lees offers the following tips for choosing the best mattress for your sleeping style:
If you mainly lie on your side, you should look for a medium-firm or medium-firm mattress to help relieve pressure points along your hips and shoulders, according to Dr. Lees. A mattress that is too firm will create pain in these areas, causing sleepers to toss and turn.
Back sleepers can opt for a firmer mattress to stabilize and support their hips and lower back. "If the mattress is too soft, the hips and pelvis can sink in, keeping the person in a 'V' or 'C' shape," says Dr. Lees, "This can lead to lower back pain." , stiff neck or aggravate an existing condition.
If you tend to lie on your stomach, you'll also want to opt for a firmer mattress to keep your hips and pelvis in alignment. However, this sleeping position is not recommended for people with back pain. "Sleeping on your stomach with your head turned to the side puts extra stress on your neck, back, and pelvis," says Dr. Grant Radermacher, owner of Ascent Chiropractic (opens in a new tab). If you usually lie on your stomach, try practicing lying on your back, as this will provide better distribution of your body weight, as well as more natural alignment of your spine and pelvis.
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Also keep in mind that your weight and build will also influence how firm or soft you need your mattress to be. “A very tall person may feel that an average mattress is too soft for side sleeping, and a short person may feel that a firm mattress doesn't do much,” says Dr. Lees. There are also other things to check if you are not sure if it is your mattress that is causing your back pain or not.
You won't really feel like a mattress until you sleep on it. Fortunately, mattress testing has become a common practice among the best mattress brands. These in-home tests last anywhere from 100 nights to a full year, well beyond the three weeks it usually takes a body to adjust to a new mattress.
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