Choosing A Mattress For Your Back

How Important is a Mattress to your back?

A lot of people always ask me about posture at work in the prevention of back pain, but what a lot of people do not think about is their mattress. It is important to make sure that you have a good mattress that will provide you with the correct alignment and provide comfort for a good nights rest.  Considering that you sleep for a third of the day (recommended sleep), it is something that is extremely important and will have an impact on how you feel and act throughout the day. Getting a good mattress and bed will greatly increase your chances of staying pain free in your lower back, as it will provide both sleep comfort and back support allowing the structures in the spine to rest and rejuvenate during the night. Sleeping on the wrong mattress can have significant consequences for the lower back.

Ask your self these questions:

Have you got lumps and dips in your mattress?

Is your current mattress more than 8 yrs old?

Do you wake up stiff and sore?

Does your spine look like the centre or bottom image when you are lying on your side?

If you have answered yes to any of these questions then it is probably time for a new mattress.

With a wide variety of mattresses on the market, choosing the right mattress for sleep comfort and back support can be a confusing decision. For people with low back pain, it’s definitely worth taking the time to select the best mattress for your back. It is also can be a personal preference in terms of the mattress that you select, as no single mattress is going to work for all people with back pain. As long as the mattress helps you sleep without pain and stiffness, then that is the best mattress for you. Try the mattress at the store for at least ten minutes and also see if you can return or swap the mattress is you are unhappy with it after a nights sleep.

Mattresses have certainly changed in recent times and the old concept of firmer is better is a thing of the past and now it is about support of the mattress allowing correct alignment and also allowing comfort. A recent study indicates that medium-firm mattresses usually provide more back pain relief than firm mattresses. Sleeping on a mattress that is too firm can cause aches and pains on pressure points. A medium firm mattress may be more comfortable because it allows the shoulder and hips to sink in slightly. People who want a firmer mattress for back support can get one with thicker padding for greater comfort. Choosing a good pillow is another important factor for sleep comfort and posture.

Types of Mattresses:

There are three main types of mattress materials to consider:

Inner spring mattresses are the traditional style of mattress. The spring unit is the main source of support for your body. According to Choice magazine, there are five factors that can influence the degree of comfort, support and durability of a mattress: the number of springs or coils, their shape, the gauge of wire used, the number of turns in each spring and the distribution of the springs.

Latex mattresses can be made from natural rubber or synthetic rubber or a combination of the two. There are many types of synthetic latex, polyurethane is one of these (see memory foam). There are varying grades of latex. Good quality latex mattresses are quite expensive, but you can expect a good quality one to last for 20 – 25 years. Consider a latex mattress if you suffer from allergies, as the natural rubber is less likely to host dust mites and moulds.  A cheaper alternative to a full latex mattress is a latex overlay on a firm inner spring mattress, which a lot of companies produce.


Memory foam (Referred to as visco elastic when made in Australia). The original memory foam mattress is the Tempur mattress, produced by a Danish company. The technology behind the Tempur mattress was instigated by NASA in the 1970’s. NASA wanted to produce a material that would improve seating comfort and decrease the affects of g-forces in spacecrafts. Tempur products have been available to public since 1991. The memory foam is so called because it heats up with your body temperature, softens and moulds around your body and ‘remembers’ your shape for a short while after you move. This means less pressure points, which is why Tempur mattresses are used in some hospitals and nursing homes.

Once you have your new mattress, it is usually worthwhile getting a mattress protector to improve the life of the mattress. Also make sure that you rotate the mattress every 6 months to ensure that the mattress is evenly worn.

If you have back pain, make and osteo appointment and consider a new mattress.

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4 Responses to “Choosing A Mattress For Your Back”

  1. Mattress Store Reviews February 14, 2013 at 4:30 pm #

    Thanks for the article. I believe in firm mattresses, but not to the extreme. The spine is not a straight line, and padding or a moderately firm mattress ‘gives’ better to the concavities of the spine. A younger spine may tolerate a very firm mattress just fine but as we get to our middle years and beyond, when back pain is more prevalent, we find that more equalized support seems to be better. This whole “the firmer, the better” idea is crazy to me.

    And what are your thoughts on waterbeds?

    • admin February 20, 2013 at 1:18 am #

      I am not a huge fan on water beds, especially if the person sleeping on it has a pre-existing back condition. I find they do not offer much support for the back.

  2. Shelly September 24, 2013 at 6:54 am #

    Hi all,
    I have a ‘bad’ back & see an osteo every month or 6 weeks. I suffer from neck and upper & lower back pain & headaches. I have some discs that are compressed, rotated hips, and spurs in the upper vertebra. My matterss is not allowing me a good nights sleep & i wake up feeling sore, tired & grumpy most days 🙁
    Can anyone recommend a matress for me? A brand, a type, materials, firmness..etc..?
    I’m desperateThank you! 🙂


    • admin September 26, 2013 at 5:43 am #

      Hi Shelly,

      I find a mattress that has box springs with a higher spring count per square metre allowing more support to your body. I also find that having some layers of foam or latex on top of the spring layers can help with comfort. Brands that I would recommend would be ‘Healthy Life Mattress’ which are at Regal Sleep Solutions and also mattress’s at Mattress and Pillow Science. I hope this helps,



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