Choosing the right mattress can alleviate back pain

Most people spend between a third and half of their lives in bed. Therefore, it is important to ensure that the time spent in bed is as comfortable as possible. Because everyone has a different body type, the type of mattress and box spring used should be suited to you.

There is some disagreement in the medical community regarding the use of firm or soft mattresses for people with back pain. Some therapists believe that light-framed individuals whose spines are straighter are best suited for a hard mattress, while a heavy person with increased spinal curves tolerates a less firm mattress. Conversely, in a study conducted by medical researchers at Emory University, 67% of the orthopaedic surgeons surveyed would recommended a “firm” mattress compared to 9 percent who would recommend a “hard” mattress to their patients with back pain. A conclusion from this study revealed that specific standards needed to be determined to differentiate firm from hard mattresses, however; the consensus was that mattress selection was an important consideration in the overall treatment of patients with back pain.

The National Back Pain Association ( and National Bed Federation ( produce a range of fact sheets on buying a bed and mattress and the types of pillows and back supports that may be useful for a person who has back and neck pain. Because the purchase of a good mattress represents a sizable investment, we recommend that you always try out the mattress before buying it because what is comfortable for one person may be uncomfortable for another. Don’t be afraid to lie on each bed and test it for as long as you can before making your choice.

When choosing a mattress, suggests asking yourself the following questions:

  • Is it too hard or too soft?
  • Does it absorb the weight of my hips and shoulders whilst evenly supporting my spine, whether I lie on my side or on my back?
  • Does it support me whether I lie in the middle or toward the side of the bed? Is that support there with my partner beside me?
  • If I become overheated at night, will the composition of this mattress make the situation worse?
  • What is the expected life span of the materials constructing the mattress?
  • Is it overpriced? Can I find the same qualities in a cheaper mattress?

Do you have additional questions about how to choose a matress to prevent back pain? Post your question in the comments section below and we’ll answer your question promptly.

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