Best Mattress for Your Bad Back

Best Mattress for Your Bad Back

What mattress is right for you?

lowbackpainGot a bad back? You’re not alone. Sore and aching backs send more people to doctors than any other single complaint and the busier we get, the more we suffer. Sitting all day at a desk or standing in heels wreaks havoc on spinal alignment and sadly, we’re just not exercising enough to undo that damage.

Sleep can help heal the abuse we throw at our backs but most of us don’t sleep on a supportive enough mattress to get the job done. And when we don’t give our backs the rest they need, mornings can be painful.

If you and your mattress have lost that loving feeling, let’s talk about the difference between firmness and support and an important thing called conformability.

Mattress support

When a mattress sales person starts talking about support, she’s referring to how well a mattress can maintain an equally level surface for the lighter (head, hands and feet) and heavier (hips and torso) parts of your body. A very soft mattress can begin life as supportive but may lose the ability to bounce back over time. In some cases, a soft mattress that begins to sag (which often occurs in the center of the mattress) can cause back pain in and out of bed.

An important thing to note is that some degree of sagging is a natural occurrence in every mattress as areas that support the heaviest parts of the body compress over time.

Conformability of a mattress

While a supportive mattress is important, pay attention to how it conforms to your shape as well. Conformability describes how a mattress molds to the unique curves of your body. A mattress with good conformability attends to heavier and lighter areas equally, which relieves pressure point pain.

A mattress that lacks conformability can stress your back by forcing it into an unnaturally flat position. Your body is in alignment when the spine is (mostly) straight when lying on your side. When you lie on your back, your spine naturally forms an “S” shape.  A supportive, conforming mattress allows your back muscles to relax, which improves healthy blood circulation and reduces tossing and turning.Man with lower back pain

Firm or soft mattress?

My Mom always told me the firmer, the better and for many years I slept on a mattress that felt more like the sidewalk than a bed. Thanks to those years, my chiropractor and massage therapist enjoy job security. In general, mattresses fall into three categories:

  • Soft mattresses tend conform to your shape but fail to deliver uniform support across the entire body.
  • Medium firm mattresses tend to deliver equally on conformability and support and alleviate pressure point pain in most people.
  • Very firm mattresses offer good support but little (if any) conformability, which can lead to pressure point pain.

Does your mattress offer you the support, conformability and firmness you need?

Many people confuse firmness with support when they’re shopping for a new mattress – and conformability often never enters the conversation. To minimize pain and discomfort and help your body relax into healing, regenerative sleep, you need a mattress that conforms to your sleeping position while supporting all areas of your body – not an easy task.

Shopping for a new mattress

So how do you find the best mattress for you? Grab your partner (if you don’t sleep alone) and start shopping. By shopping, we mean lying on a lot of mattresses.

Talk to lots of sales people – this is their business after all – but be prepared to test mattresses for yourself. You know how your body feels on a bad mattress, so it makes sense that you’ll also know what feels good. Try these 3 simple rules when shopping:

  1. You don’t sleep sitting up so lie down on the bed
  2. Lie on the bed like you do at home – side, stomach or back.
  3. Compare mattresses at similar price points so you comparing fairly.


What’s the true cost of a good mattress? If you spent $2,000 on a new mattress and slept comfortably on that mattress for 7 years, the cost of healthy sleep would be $1.27 per night – less than the cost of Starbucks coffee in the morning…

If you’re ready for a new mattress, we’d love to help you find the right one for you. Visit our Find a Retailer page and we’ll locate a store close by where you can lie on our mattresses and talk to a trained sales professional.


This blog was originally published on and does not provide medical advice. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.

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