How Can A Firm Mattress Cause Back Pain
Mattress firmness is a setting configured by the manufacturer that influences how hard or soft a mattress is likely to feel when you lie on it.
However, the final firmness, feel, and overall comfort level will depend on how your individual body weight, body type, and dominant sleeping position interact with the mattress.
This means that a firm mattress will typically feel softer to heavier weighted sleepers over 230 lbs who sleep on their back or front, whilst a firm mattress is likely to feel even firmer the lighter you are and sleep on your side .
Furthermore, back pain can have many causes and is highly dependent upon your individual circumstances and medical conditions.
All of this variability, subjectivity, and uncertainty means that its NOT accurate to make the sweeping generalization that a firm mattress causes back pain, nor would it be fair to say that a firm mattress is automatically the best choice if you have back pain.
For example, Eileen Vollowitz, BS, PT a physical therapist specializing in orthopedics and occupational health who is the founder of Health by Design says that the traditional medical advice of sleeping on a firm mattress may help some individuals but also harm others potentially exacerbating lower back pain .
Based on my own experience of sleeping on mattresses with different firmnesses and what I know about mattresses in general, here are the 3 primary ways that sleeping on a mattress thats too firm for you could cause back pain:
Youre Sleeping On Your Front
Sleeping on your front/stomach is considered by many medical experts to be the worst sleeping position when it comes to guarding against back pain and may actually cause back pain due to the strain it places on your back, spine, and neck .
This risk of back pain heightens when sleeping on your front in a memory foam mattress because the deeper compression afforded by the memory foam means that your hips are somewhat more likely to drop out of alignment when compared to the thinner and less compressive nature of an upholstered top layer found on a regular spring mattress.
Heavier weighted stomach sleepers over 230 lbs are the most at risk of back pain when sleeping in a memory foam mattress because the greater weight compounds the sinkage issue.
Solution #1: Switch Positions
If youre a front sleeper and you own a memory foam mattress thats giving you back pain then you might want to try sleeping on your side.
More specifically, you might find it beneficial to sleep on your side with a pillow between your knees and adopt the leg position shown in the video below:
Solution #2: Consider a Different Mattress
If youre a stomach sleeper over 230 lbs and yet to buy your mattress then you might want to consider going for a firmer memory foam mattress thats designed to hold heavier weights .
Ways A Memory Foam Mattress Can Hurt Your Back
- Article medically reviewed and fact-checked by Dr. Dimitar Marinov .
The first time I ever slept on a memory foam mattress I woke up with back pain.
Well, to be honest, I never actually got to sleep because what started out as a rather soft and seemingly comfy mattress quickly became some sort of torture device that caused an excruciating ache in my lower back that stopped me from getting any sleep at all.
So after some extensive research, I discovered that there are several reasons why sleeping on a memory foam mattress may result in back pain:
A memory foam mattress can hurt your back if the mattress is too soft, too firm, too thin, lacks support, is sagging, is placed on the wrong frame, hasnt had enough time to adjust to your physical characteristics or simply isnt a good fit for your body weight, body type, or dominant sleeping position.
One study found that when 100 medical residents switched from a regular cotton mattress and slept on a thin 10cm foam mattress for one night, 63% of participants developed lower back pain that resolved for 61 of the participants when switching back to the original cotton mattress with the back pain returning upon switching back to the foam mattress once again .
The good news is that there are several steps that you can take to reduce the chance of you buying a memory foam mattress thats going to be uncomfortable.
This article provides multiple solutions for both scenarios.
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You Wake Up With Back Pain
While it may seem obvious, morning pain is one of the first signs that you and your mattress may no longer be friends. If you feel fine when you go to bed but wake up groaning and clutching your lower back, your mattress could be a contributing factor. A problematic mattress can contribute to spine misalignment, which in turn leads to morning pain.
Prevention Of Back Pain In Bed
In order to prevent back pain in bed, taking care of your posture is essential. A great start is to sleep on your right-hand side, with knees bent up slightly. Laying on the right-hand side is good for blood flow, as you have the smaller and lighter left lung resting on the heart in this position, maximising blood flow.
Ensure that the gap in between the shoulder, neck, and head is filled with a pillow, so that the spine and neck remain in good alignment. Imagine how your neck sits vertically in line with the rest of the spine when you are sitting and standing when you are laying on your side, you want to maintain that. Pillow depth is key here, and firmness or softness is a personal preference.
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New Mattresses Take Time To Break In
Just like a good pair of shoes, a new mattress has a break-in period. Components like springs and foams can be stiff at first but will soften up and conform to your body over time. It’s a sign, in fact, that the mattress is doing its job.
If your new mattress feels too firm at the beginning, consider using a mattress topper until it’s broken in.
The right pillows can also help alleviate pain during the break-in periodand help keep back pain in check well after youve broken in your new mattress.
- If you’re a back sleeper: Place a small pillow beneath your knees to support your lower back and minimize back pain while you’re sleeping.
- If you’re a side sleeper: Hold a body pillow while you sleep to support your upper arm and upper knee. This will keep your spine straight while you snooze.
- If you’re a stomach sleeper: Change your sleep position! Really. If you can’t train yourself to sleep on your back or side, try placing a relatively flat pillow under your stomach to slightly elevate your pelvis and take the pressure off your lower back.
A regular stretching routine can help ease back pain caused by a new mattress too.
We tend to do a lot of reaching forward while sitting all day, so reach your head back, put your hands on the small of your lower back, and arch your back. You can also pull your knees into your chest before you get out of bed.
Lower Back Pain Could It Be Your Mattress
Did you know that back pain is one of the most common types of pain felt by people in the US? We are constantly putting stresses and strains on our backs that culminate in back pain especially lower back pain. Its possible that your daily activities can cause your lower back pain, but if you are sleeping on a rough mattress or are sleeping in a certain position, this certainly wont help ease your lower back pain.
A mattress that is too firm or too soft can put pressure on your back, side, joints, and more, exacerbating your pain across the eight or so hours you sleep. You may wake up feeling stiff or unrested. One way you can tell if your mattress is to blame is if you wake up and immediately experience back pain. If you find yourself struggling to get a decent nights sleep, tossing and turning, and waking up frequently, your mattress may be to blame for that as well. It is said that your mattress should be replaced every eight years. How old is your mattress?
While your personal preference affects what kind of mattress you may purchase, make sure to avoid purchasing a too-firm or too-soft bed. While it makes sense that a too firm mattress will place pressure on your body, a too soft mattress can make you sink down into the bed and affect your sleeping posture.
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Try Changing Up Your Sleeping Position
Changing your sleeping position is one way to try to get back pain relief.
If you are a back or stomach sleeper with a soft mattress and you dont have the budget for a new bed, you can try to switch to a side sleeping position that will receive more support from your existing mattress. In general, experts recommend that stomach sleepers try to adjust to side or back sleeping because its easier to get appropriate support in those positions.
For people with acute pain, temporary changes to your sleeping position may help to reduce stress on already sore or achy parts of your back. For example, people with lumbar pain might try a period of side sleeping to avoid the excess bending of that area that can happen on your stomach or back.
While changing sleeping positions is worth a shot, its often not a long-term solution because the change can be hard to stick with. Some people just cant get comfortable in a different position or they may quickly revert back to their old sleeping position during the night. In these cases, other approaches are more likely to be beneficial over the medium- to long-term.
How To Exercise To Relieve Back Pain
In the morning and evening, it is beneficial to warm up and warm down. To achieve this:
- Some gentle stretching will help in general, but particularly for pain in the lower back.
- For the neck and lower back, gentle stretching in all vectors of movement will help, ensuring you engage the core muscles at all times to strengthen them and stretch the other muscles.
- Tight hamstrings can place stress on your lower back. To stretch your hamstrings, place one leg up on the bed and gently stretch forward until you feel the tension down the back of the leg. This will help, particularly if you have been sat down all day as the hamstrings will have been contracted and shortened for that whole period, they deserve a stretch!
Any exercise that strengthens your core will help prevent back pain in the future, so consider hitting the gym or park more often, or taking up a yoga class or similar.
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Remedy For Body Aches
The solution for bad mattresses that causes body aches is getting the right one for your bed. In fact, until you get the most popular ideal mattresses, it is time you are going to improve the sleep experience. A good mattress is supposed to offer you full-body support and does not create any pressure on your back and neck to make sure you have a sound sleep. You can also buy a new good mattress from our well-researched list of top 10 best mattresses for back pain.
More Pleasure Less Pain
There are many things that can cause back pain. Some of them include activities, infection, injury improper lifting and poor posture. Some spinal diseases can cause your back to hurt as well,
A lot of the time its our sleep habits that cause our back pain. This is especially true if your pain begins after you laid down a few hours, or you notice the pain when you first get up, in the morning.
This soreness will usually disappear as the day progresses when you become active. Sleeping on pillows and a mattress that supports your spine and sleeping on your side should cure your morning agony.
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How Does Back Pain Affect Your Sleep
Back pain can make daily activities difficult. This includes walking, working, sitting, and lifting even lightweight items. Unfortunately, back pain complicates sleep, making it hard to find a comfortable position to sleep soundly through the night.
People with back pain have a fragmented sleep that occurs from tossing and turning all night. This can also contribute to stress, depression, and anxiety, which can be detrimental to quality sleep.
If you’re someone with back pain, you can take several steps to sleep better. Taking care when lifting heavy objects and sitting with proper posture can reduce the aggravation of back pain. Having an organic mattress that keeps your body well aligned can reduce stress on the spine and open the door for better sleep.
However, if you have severe back problems, it’s always best to seek the help of an expert doctor.
How Do I Know If My Pain Is Caused By The Way I Sleep
If you seem to start feeling the pain right after you lay down for the night, then chances are there are other things that are causing your back to hurt. Probably something youve done during the day.
See your pain will become more intense when you lay down because the inflammation and swelling caused by daily activity have greatly increased by then.
Another thing that makes the pain appear to be worse at night is your mind isnt distracted by other things, so the pain messages are able to take center stage.
If after a few hours of lying down you start having pain, or you notice that youre hurting when you first get out of bed, and if the pain decreases as the day progresses, then chances are the pain is caused by the way you sleep. This type of pain usually occurs in your neck or your lower back.
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What Type Of Mattress Is Best For Back Pain
Back pain often occurs when your mattress doesnt provide adequate support to your body throughout the night, causing misalignment in your spine. The key to alleviating an aching back is finding a mattress that provides appropriate support.
In general, memory foam and latex mattresses are often considered the best options for back pain, as they conform to your body, cradling pressure points while supporting your spine and keeping it aligned. However, hybrid and coil mattresses can provide similar benefits, as long as you choose one thats specifically designed for that purpose.
Can A Mattress Cause Back Pain 11 Warning Signs
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be taken as medical advice.
Can a mattress cause back pain? If you constantly wake up with a stiff, sore back, you may wonder if your mattress is the culprit.
If your mattress is old, isnt a good match for your body, or is otherwise not ideal for supporting your favorite sleep position, it could be contributing to back pain. Lets take a look at some signs that your mattress may be a factor.
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Be Careful Getting In And Out Of Bed
Many back injuries are attributed to making awkward movements when doing routine things. One of the easier ways to prevent new injuries or exacerbating old ones is to be conscious of your movements. Here are a few pointers from WebMD experts on protecting your back when getting in and out of bed:
- Dont twist your back or make rapid jerking motions.
- Get in bed by sitting on the edge of the mattress. Supporting yourself with your hands, bend your knees, and lay on your side. Then adjust your position as needed.
- Get out of bed by rolling on your side and bend in your knees. Supporting yourself with your hands, carefully swing your legs to the floor and stand up straight. Get up from the seated position.
What Causes Back Pain
The main cause of back pain in bed is poor posture, either from how a person sits at work or how they sleep at night.
Between the vertebrae in the spine are intervertebral discs, which rehydrate at night . Poor posture can prevent the discs from rehydrating.
Read more: The NHS Guide To Back Pain
Attached to the vertebra are smaller muscle groups such as the erector spinae, and large muscles such as the trapezius. Poor posture can put the muscles into awkward positions that can cause irritation over a prolonged period of time, resulting in aches or pains. Lower and middle back pain tend to be the common culprits when sleeping. While there are several causes of back pain, a small number of which can be more serious underlying health issues. NHS Live Well gives us a list of common indicators of poor posture:
- Slouching in a chair
- Sticking your bottom out when standing
- Standing with a flat back
- Leaning on one leg
- Hunched back and text neck when focusing too much on your phone
- Poking your chin out when at a computer
- Rounded shoulders
- Cradling your phone in between your head and shoulder
These points are developed with images and solutions on this helpful NHS web page.
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What Is The Best Mattress For Back Pain
The best mattress for back pain is the one that fits your personal requirements as closely as possible which may be best achieved through the combination of a suitable mattress and an adjustable bed frame.
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