Have you ever woken up in the morning feeling as if your back and hip has already form an alliance with the bed? Do you get up with back pain, hip pain or shoulder pain? If this occurs frequently, it could well mean that your mattress is not suitable for you.
There are many types of mattresses, the most common ones including innerspring, latex, memory foam, futon and air mattress. To understand which type of mattress suits you best to prevent pain, you must first know why your mattress is causing you back pain.
The main reasons for waking up with pain is the lack of conformability and support in your mattress. Let’s go into some details.
When we sleep, some parts of our body come into contact with the bed with more pressure than other parts, and these are called pressure points.
If you are a back sleeper, your pressure points are likely to be the back and the buttocks. For a side sleeper, the shoulder and the hip is where your weight is based. If you sleep on your tummy, the front of the shoulders, hip and knees are your pressure points.
Conforms to Your Body
A good mattress must conform to your body shape well enough to relieve the pressure for these points and provide support for the parts that are non-pressure points. Lie down on your mattress and if your pressure points sink lower into the mattress enough for the non-pressure points to come into contact with the bed naturally, the mattress has good conformability.
A mattress with poor conformability will not allow your pressure points to sink lower, causing the other parts of your body (especially the lower back) to unnaturally sag towards gravity without support.
The type of mattress with the best conformability is the memory foam mattress. The mattress follows the contour of your body completely as you lie on it, providing support for all parts of your body. The mattress with poorest conformability is latex.
Supports Your Body
Support is not the same as conformability although conformability helps provide more support. A good mattress must support your entire body by keeping it on a level surface, If your mattress is wobbly or sags to one side or towards the middle, it will not provide enough support for you.
If your body feels as if it’s falling off of the bed (even so slightly that you didn’t consciously notice it), the muscles are bound to fight the gravity all night.
Mattresses with the best support is the air bed. Air mattresses support the sleeper well and they are known to be a great option as an everyday bed if you have back pain or discomfort from sleeping. Innerspring mattresses provide initial support but tend to sag over a few years.
Soft vs Firm
The right firmness of a mattress varies for different sleeping positions, but the main idea is to get a balance between a soft mattress and a firm mattress. Softness contributes to conformability, while firmness contributes to support. Too much of either is not good.
For back sleepers, the body lies on its wider side so a firm mattress will be more comfortable. Side sleepers will find a soft mattress more conformable to their pressure points. On the other hand, a soft mattress will probably suffocate a front sleeper or cause neck and shoulder pain.
Best Mattress for Back Pain
So what is the best mattress for back pain? We find that the air mattress is the best choice as an everyday bed if you suffer from back pain.
However, make sure that you choose a good air bed, preferably one with multiple air coils or chambers for extra support, one that does not lose air quickly so that no sagging occurs in the night, and a raised height for easy getting in and out of the bed.
For extra conformability you can top the air bed with a memory foam or gel foam mattress topper at about 1 to 2-inch thick. If you are a side sleeper get a thicker topper for a softer feel.
You may also want to read our other air mattress reviews.