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Quit whining about your back pain – and DO something about it!
My husband and I have slept on a LOT of mattresses during the last couple of years.
I suffer from almost daily back pain, caused by a bad car wreck in college and years of swimming competitively.
I'm not alone.
Back pain is one of the most common health conditions in America with 80 percent of the US population experiencing it sometime in the course of their lives. Sitting improperly, injury, awkward walking gaits and repeatedly lifting heavy weights can all lead to back pain.
Two common mattress problems can also make back pain worse:
- uneven support of your body, which causes too much pressure on the lower back; and
- bad sleeping posture, which causes the spine to assume an unnatural position and cause your body to fight all night to keep things aligned.
What's In This Mattress Guide
Table of Contents
- What's In This Mattress Guide
- The Best Online Mattresses for Back Pain
- Best Memory Foam Mattress for Back Pain: Loom and Leaf Relaxed Firm
- Best Organic Mattress for Back Pain: Plushbeds Botanical Bliss
- Best Innerspring Mattress for Back Pain Sufferers: Saatva
- What Features Are Important For Back Pain Sufferers?
- How We Rate Mattresses for Back Pain Relief
In this guide I review my three favorite mattresses to relieve back pain and explain why I picked them.
These are my three favorite mattresses for back pain for the 4 main mattress types. Click on one to read my in-depth review.
- Best Memory Foam Mattress for Back Pain: Loom and Leaf Relaxed Firm
- Best Latex Mattress for Back Pain: PlushBeds Botanical Bliss
- Best Organic Mattress for Back Pain: PlushBeds Botanical Bliss
- Best Innerspring Mattress for Back Pain: Saatva
To read shorter summaries of my top picks, keep reading this page.
The Best Online Mattresses for Back Pain
The table below lists my top picks for back pain sufferers, by type of mattress.
In general, all of these mattresses are durable and high quality products that exhibit the following traits:
- excellent support due to the right choice of materials and construction
- medium or medium firm comfort level, which most experts today agree is best for back pain sufferers
- durable construction often means longer warranties, too
- moderate sinkage to properly support & distribute your weight
- good or excellent heat transfer to help you sleep cool and avoid moving around at night
|Mattress||Rating||Price||Description||Comfort Choices||Warranty||In-Home Trial||Delivery||Construction||Heat Transfer||Motion Transfer||Sinkage||Off-Gassing?||Eco-friendliness||Customer Service|
|Saatva||4.9||$699-$1,599||Luxury hybrid |
(foam and innerspring) mattress
|15 years||120 nights||7-15 days||Innerpring + foam||Excellent||Medium||Minimal||No||organic top|
|Plushbeds Botanical Bliss||4.8||$1,099- $2,098||Luxury organic latex mattress||Med. Firm,|
|25 years||100 nights||2 weeks||Latex, memory foam||Excellent||Very Low||Moderate||No||GreenGuard Gold certified||Excellent|
|Loom and Leaf||4.7||$849-$1,799||Luxury memory foam mattress||Firm|
|15 years||120 nights||7-15 days||Gel + memory foam||Excellent||Low||Limited||No||CertiPUR-US foam||White-glove|
Best Memory Foam Mattress for Back Pain: Loom and Leaf Relaxed Firm
Memory foam mattresses are often considered the best mattress choice for people with back pain. This is because memory foam is able to balance between comfort and support better than other materials.
Our top memory foam pick for back pain sufferers is Loom and Leaf. This extremely popular and highly-rated mattress offers real luxury at an affordable price.
Loom and Leaf is an American-made mattress, manufactured by the same company that produces our top-rated mattress, Saatva.
The construction of Loom and Leaf is top-notch. It uses an organic cotton cover to ensure the mattress remains breathable at the top. The cover is infused with natural thistle, which acts as a fire retardant.
The second level, below the cover, is a spine-supporting layer of medical grade gel. This boosts support and cooling.
The third, core support layer is made from a unique bio-based memory foam. This layer is the main source of support and contouring. The memory foam is designed with no toxic materials and has no off gassing.
A 5.5-inch bottom layer of foundation foam provides support to the layers above.
Loom and Leaf ranks their mattress firmness on a 1-10 scale starting from very soft to very hard.
We think the best comfort level for back pain sufferers is the Loom and Leaf Relaxed Firm, with a firmness level is between 5 and 7.
Loom and Leaf offers an extra-long 15 year warranty and a 75-night in-home trial.
They also offer optional white glove service, which can be handy if back troubles prevent you from moving a heavy box into your home.
Best Organic Mattress for Back Pain: Plushbeds Botanical Bliss
Plushbeds Botanical Bliss is a high-end all-natural latex mattress that delivers everything that matters most to a back pain sufferer: superb support, a choice of 4 firmness levels, moderate sinkage, durability (a super-long 25 year warranty) and excellent customer service.
Materials and construction are about the best we've seen in a latex mattress.
Below its knitted organic cotton over, Botanical Bliss uses Talalay latex in the top support layer.
Talalay latex is infused with air to make it fluffy and soft. This relieves pressure and cradles your body much better than most other latex mattresses, which can be far less giving and feel firm, or stiff.
The foundational layer below that is made of ARPICO (Dunlop) latex, which is 100% organic and made from rubber tree sap. It is an especially dense form of latex, which provides more support than you typically find in latex foam mattresses.
The PlushBeds Botanical Bliss is the only mattress we've reviewed that meets the very rigorous GreenGuard Certification standard for using only VOC-free, environmentally-friendly and and toxin-free materials.
The Botanical Bliss is offered in 4 different comfort levels and can be ordered as a split-comfort mattress, with each side having a different comfort level.
The only downside is the price: all-natural latex mattresses are not cheap.
The Botanical Bliss costs between $999 and $2499, depending on thickness and size. But this is still $1,000+ less than a comparable store-bought organic latex bed.
Plushbeds comes with an exceptionally long 25-year warranty, and the first 10 years are non-prorated. They let you try the mattress out in your home for 100 nights.
PlushBeds also offers the option of in-home setup, using third parties in your town.
Best Innerspring Mattress for Back Pain Sufferers: Saatva
Durability is a hallmark of all innerspring mattresses: due to their steel construction, they are super-strong and last a long time.
Finally, innerspring mattresses tend to provide excellent support, including on the edge.
Our innerspring mattress recommendation for Back Pain sufferers is Saatva. It is also the highest-rated mattress we've reviewed to date.
Saatva uses an advanced coil-on-coil system that provides outstanding support and durability. The lower, hourglass-shaped, coil unit is for foundational support.
The upper coil unit uses individually wrapped steel coils that will last many years without deforming.
Saatva‘s edge support is also excellent.
Saatva can be ordered in one of three comfort levels, plush soft, luxury firm and firm.
For Back Pain Sufferers, we recommend the luxury firm. The plush soft is too soft, in our opinion.
Size-wise, Saatva sells all the normal variations, plus custom sizes.
All Saatva mattresses come with a 15-year warranty. Sleep on it for up to 75 nights, to see if this mattress works for you.
Saatva doesn't offer discounts. You'll usually find the best prices on their website, however.
Prices range from $699 to $1,299.
What Features Are Important For Back Pain Sufferers?
When buying a mattress online, there are 13 key features you should consider (see the complete list).
However, 3 of these are the most important to look for, when it comes to finding a great mattress for easing back pain: adequate support, body contouring (firmness), and durability.
In addition, it helps if your mattress keeps you cool at night and doesn't transfer motion too much, because you will wake up less and move around less.
1. Great Support
Having adequate, all-over, body support is extremely important feature for any best mattress for back pain, because a lack of proper support during sleep is a major cause of back pain.
A great mattress supports your body in such a way that pressure is distributed evenly all over your body, rather than being concentrated on just a few parts of your body.
A mattress with poor support will concentrate pressure on a few specific points, leaving the rest of your body working all night to remain comfortable. Especially your back.
The pressure points are different for different people, based on how you normally sleep.
For example, for a stomach sleeper, pressure is often concentrated at the midsection, which in turn puts undue pressure on the lower back and causing pain.
For back sleepers, the lower back can be directly exposed as a pressure point.
For side sleepers, the hip and midsection area can get too much pressure, which also affects the lower back.
As you can see, no matter how you sleep, your lower back can be impacted by pressure points when there is inadequate support from your mattress.
To resolve this, look for a mattress that supports the body’s weight and pressure evenly, all over. For your sleeping style.
The materials used in a mattress and their layering will determine how supportive a mattress is.
Some companies have come up with ingenious ways to provide the best support.
2. Body Contouring (corresponds to firmness level)
Closely related to support is the firmness level of a mattress. Firmness determines how easily the mattress contours around the body.
Too firm, and there's not enough give, so pressure points can develop.
Too soft, and your lower back has to work all night to keep your body in the right position.
For far too long, chiropractors and other health professionals recommended that patients with back trouble should sleep on firm or extra firm mattresses.
Turns out, this is a bad recommendation – something researchers have learned in recent years.
When a mattress is too firm, it does not contour around the body. This means that only a few points are in contact with the mattress, which often means your spine is not in alignment. This means your body has to constantly fight all night to get your spine back into alignment.
When a mattress is too soft, it creates excessive sinkage. Though sinkage does improve contouring, too much causes uneven weight distribution on the mattress. This creates unequal support where the midsection sinks lower than the rest of the body. Again, this puts too much pressure on the lower back, causing pain.
The sweet spot for most back pain sufferers is a medium firm mattress. Being neither too firm nor too soft, a medium firm mattress is able to contour around the body while still maintaining even support throughout.
Another solution, especially for side-sleepers with back issues, is to choose a firm mattress with a soft topper that can hug your body and provide a bit more support.
Another issue that is often not mentioned is changes that all mattresses experience, as they age.
As mattresses age, they often develop permanent depressions and sagging which can really mess with your back. In addition, the layers in a foam mattress can compress, eliminating their resilience and altering the level of support provided to your body.
Most mattresses are made to last a maximum of 10 years, although these days manufacturers are creating longer lasting mattresses.
Our recommendation for back pain sufferers: replace your mattress at least every ten years, or more frequently if sagging/depressions begin to develop.
How We Rate Mattresses for Back Pain Relief
Here are the 13 factors will look for in mattresses when rating them for back pain relief:
The best brands are usually those that have been around the longest.
If you are undergoing treatment for back pain, it is not fair to add to the medical costs with an insanely expensive mattress costing $5,000. Shopping online is a great way to save money.
We always look for the most affordable mattresses that provide great value.
3. Firmness and comfort choices
Firmness level is a critically important issue for people with back problems.
Our highest ranked mattresses for back pain tend to be medium-firm. This is usually the best comfort level to deal with back pain.
4. Mattress construction
Different materials such as latex and memory foam have varying characteristics. It is important to understand how different materials and construction methods can improve, or worsen, mattress support and comfort.
5. Heat transfer
You may not think the coolness of a mattress matters for people with back pain, but it does. If a mattress sleeps too hot, it will cause you to move around more at night, which can exacerbate lower back pain.
We give top marks to mattresses that perform well in heat transfer. This includes keeping the mattress free from perspiration.
6. Motion transfer
Too much motion transfer will cause partners to wake each other up at night. This can be an irritating issue, especially for someone with back pain.
Our best-ranked mattresses for back pain have moderate to low motion transfer.
Sinkage refers to the level of depression a mattress exhibits when a given weight is placed on it, and it is a strong indicator of how well a mattress provides overall support for your body.
Too much sinkage in the center of a mattress can aggravate back pain. Too much sinkage around the edges can cause strange body posture, especially for couples who push each other around at night.
The same is also true for a mattress with too little sinkage.
Back pain sufferers tend to sleep best on a medium-firm mattress with moderate sinkage.
How ‘green’ a mattress is has become an increasingly important issue. We take this into account, although gong green does nothing special to help with back pain.
The best foam mattresses emit as little gas as possible after they are opened. Again, this won't really change how a mattress helps with back pain unless you are really sensitive and it wakes you up (never heard of that, though).
10. In-home trial
This is not really an issue with online mattresses. Most companies offer generous trial periods ranging from 75 to 120 days. It will only take you a few nights to know whether a mattress has helped your back pain, or made it worse.
11. Return policy
We also consider how friendly and hassle-free a company’s return policy is.
What kind of warranty is offered and how many years does it cover? In general, longer warranties mean better, more durable mattresses. And durability is important for back pain sufferers.
13. Delivery and setup
For back pain sufferers, we give an edge to mattress companies that provide help in setting up the new mattress. For someone with back pain, this can be crucial.
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