Mattress support for back pain
Choosing the right mattress is a very personal matter, especially if you suffer from back pain. Your mattress of choice holds the potential to help, hinder or create back aches and pains and this means a decision on the correct mattress for you is not one to be taken lightly.
Back aches and pains can be linked to a number of different causes, with the most common arising from everyday stresses on the muscles and ligaments that support the spine. Our activities during the day, the way we sit, stand, move and bend, impact our body and spine significantly. As a supportive element itself the spine holds up your head, keeps your body upright, allows you the flexibility to bend, and protects your spinal cord. The potential 8 hours of sleep that we are advised to have each night is intended to allow your body and spine to rejuvenate and relax, soothing tension and allowing our muscles and joints to recover from these daily activities. If during these essential 8 hours your spine is not properly supported, your muscles will be working overtime in order to adapt to the mattress instead of being restored by the correct support of your mattress.
It has been a common misconception that a firm mattress is best if you suffer from any form of back pain with some people going to extraordinary lengths to achieve a firm mattress, even utilising the floor in the hope that it will help in their circumstance. Unless you only sleep on your back, in most cases a firm mattress doesn’t help to relieve your back pain; mixing mattress support with mattress firmness has been a long held misconception.
Read more: Best mattress for lower back pain support
A mattress must give the greatest support at the heaviest parts of your body where your natural curves are located: head (a good pillow is also very important), shoulders and hips, while being able to distribute the pressure points through the surface, the surface should also be able to contour to your body shape, providing enough support to the areas which connect the curves. If support is not available to maintain these curves you increase the stress on the bones and muscles of your back.
Lack of support from your mattress also emphasises poor sleeping posture and does not allow the spine to align to its correct position, all of which can contribute to back aches and pains, ideally the spine should be kept in its natural alignment, which means when you are sleeping the spine should maintain the same curve as if you are standing.
The ideal amount of support will vary between each person and certain factors will determine how much support you will need. Weight and height is a key dynamic in the support issue, with heavier, taller people requiring more support as they will sink in to the mattress surface further than say a medium sized person of a medium height.
As a general guide (not taking into consideration personal preference or pre-existing conditions) people 90kg or heavier will need more support by a firmer mattress; a smaller person or children (less than 55kg) will be properly supported on a softer mattress, and a medium mattress is generally suitable for people 55-90kg.
Having this general guide in mind when considering a new mattress will help to get you started on the right track, the idea is to find the firmness of the mattress to match your body weight and comfort preferences. Firstly make sure you take the time to test each mattress to determine, most importantly, if it is supportive enough for you and then see if it matches your desired comfort level. It is suggested that you try a firm mattress followed by a soft mattress to give an indication of the support range, and then begin trying the mattresses in between.