Is a firm mattress better for a sore back?

Help for back painMattress buyers guide
Man sits on edge of bed with hand on lower back indicating back pain from mattress

Unfortunately, anyone working in a mattress store who tells you that sleeping on a firm bed will fix your sore back is guessing.

You see, the first thing that you need to figure out is the cause of your sore back. Unless the mattress sales person is also your doctor, chiropractor or physiotherapist and also happens to sleep in the same bed as you, then it is unlikely that they will be able to accurately diagnose your back pain and prescribe the mattress to fix it.

Back pain can be caused by many things. But if you’re going to bed feeling fine but feeling stiff and sore when you wake, there’s a possibility that the support in the mattress is not right for your body.

Or, it could be the opposite of that.

Dr Susan Alamann, a leading American Chiropractor tells us that if your posture is extremely poor during the day, you may experience pain through the night when sleeping on a good mattress, as your spine spends those 8 hours trying to correct itself.

Soreness can also be caused by a poor sleeping position. Dr Alamann recommends that whatever your preferred sleeping position is, you try to keep your shoulders, hips, knees and ankles aligned. In other words, if you’re a back or stomach sleeper – try and sleep in a straight line. If you’re a side sleeper, try and keep your knees together and hips aligned on top of each other. Sleeping in an unnatural pose, such as with one leg bent out or one arm above your head can place strain on the nerves and tendons around those joints and cause soreness in the morning.

If your back pain is caused by an injury, you may find that the pain is alleviated far more by sleeping a softer bed, exactly the opposite of a firm mattress. You will have a greater need for more softness and comfort in the mattress to cushion the injured areas of your body. Older bodies, especially those who have had hip replacements or the like, usually benefit from a very plush mattress.

But, when incorrect support in a mattress seems to be causing the problem, it is often that the mattress spring is too soft and causing the heaviest part of your body (around your lower back, hips and backside) to sink too low into the mattress.

Ideally, the support unit will keep your body in good alignment so that your spine and joints are in their “neutral” and least-stressed position, You may want to try a firmer, sturdier spring unit that will lift the heaviest part of your body and hold you in a different posture.

That doesn’t mean that you want to sleep on a brick or the floor.

We still need a certain amount of comfort in the upholstery layers on top of the springs to avoid pressure build up whilst we sleep. According to the US National Sleep Foundation, a mattress with more ‘give’ or more comfort may lead to better sleep in people with back pain, despite the fact that most consumers believe that a firmer mattress is better for alleviating back pain.

You’ll find our 'Just Perfect' mattress is the perfect combination of the right amount of support in the spring unit but still with a good amount of cushioning in the comfort layers.

For any of us with back problems, the best way to discover if you need a firmer or softer mattress is with a 100-night trial of a new mattress. Most mattresses will feel comfortable when you try them out in a bedding store, but only once you’ve spent many hours sleeping on a mattress will you know for sure if it’s the real cure for your sore back.

Any advice given in our articles is for information purposes only and not intended to replace advice given to your by your doctor or health care professional.

Our mattress range

Follow us on @shermanaustralia