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How To Tell If My Mattress Is Causing Back Pain

Tips To Alleviate Back Pain While Sleeping

Is your mattress causing your back pain?

Choosing the right mattress for your needs and body type will go a long way in reducing or eliminating back pain. However, there are other measures you can take to ensure restful nights and pain-free mornings.

Dr. Grant Radermacher , owner of Ascent Chiropractic in Brookfield, WI, offers these helpful tips:

Buy A Firm Mattress Topper

If your old mattress is too soft and/or has body impressions/indentations in the upper comfort layer then you may be able to fix this by buying a firm mattress topper to place over the surface and stop you from sinking too far into the mattress.

You could use this strategy in isolation or in conjunction with the plywood/floor techniques but again, I wouldnt really consider this as a viable long-term solution if the fundamental integrity of the mattress has been compromised.

You Wake Up Feeling Stiff And Sore

When you sleep on the wrong mattress, your spine slowly shifts out of alignment. Over time this can lead to chronic back pain that wakes you in the early hours of the morning with aching muscles. If waking up in agony is normal for you, then check if its your mattress causing back pain!

Notice whether or not every time you wake up with lower back pain, theres an indentation where you were lying down before. This can also signify that the mattress isnt supportive enough for certain types of sleepers like those who always lie on their backs or stomachs when they sleep.

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Do Foam Mattresses Sag

Foams are a more recent filling, and are certainly good at easing pressure points. Foam mattresses will also eventually sag, just like any other filling. Once a foam mattress sags you have to trash the mattress whereas natural mattresses can be recycled. It is important to note that due to their dense nature they have poor breathability and can become very hot at night, as the heat from your body struggles to escape. It is for this reason that we tend to prefer to manufacture more traditional mattresses with good breathability in our workshop.

How To Tell If Your Old Mattress Is Causing Back Pain

Is My Soft Mattress Hurting My Back

If you have recently developed back pain then you should most definitely go and see your doctor to confirm the root cause and develop an appropriate treatment plan.

And whilst Im certainly not qualified to diagnose your back pain, my research indicates that theres a fair chance that your mattress/bed is the cause of your back pain if one or more of the following conditions are true:

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Your Back Pain Is Much Worse In The Mornings

If you wake up and your back is sore and aching, but you dont experience that soreness or pain at any other time, then chances are your mattress is causing it. And if the discomfort gradually improves throughout the day, then thats another key sign that your bed could be the main culprit.

According to Dr. Frank Siraguso at the Siraguso Family Chiropractic clinic, if your muscles are working too hard to keep your spine aligned, then they do not have time to rest, your joints are under constant stress, and your discs are not able to decompress and rehydrate, leaving you with pain when you wake up.

Another sign that your mattress is to blame is if stretching for 15 minutes to half an hour after you wake alleviates the pain. Constantly shifting your sleep position in order to get comfy is also an indicator that your mattress is causing your back and hips to ache.

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When To Change Your Mattress And Box Spring

The Better Sleep Council recommends replacing your mattress every 710 years, but you have to always pay attention to how you feel when you wake up and the quality of your sleep. Of course many things can cause back pain, but an old mattress or a mattress that isnât right for you is a very common contributor to back pain.

Some signs that you need to replace box springs are squeaking or sagging in the center. You can remove the dust cover and look inside. If you see worn or broken wood slats or coils, then you know itâs time. Though box springs tend to last longer than mattresses, some people replace their box spring whenever they replace their mattress.

You may also realize that your mattress isnât working for you. Several years ago I spent a week in a hotel and realized on the second day that I wasnât waking up with a tight lower back. The bed I was sleeping on was at the Westin Bonaventure in Los Angeles, and it was called the âHeavenly Bed.â The bed was ultra soft. When I got home, I ordered a 4-inch foam layer to put on top of my bed to make it softer, and I was waking up with no pain. My wife said that her hip pain went away. Our mattress was 7 years old, so it was about time to get a new one, but even if I had only just bought my mattress, we would have purchased a new one.

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Struggle To Get Comfortable In Bed

Discomfort will not only keep you awake, it could also contribute to restlessness and back pain. When you are restless and uncomfortable in bed, its a sign that you need to change your mattress. When you frequently wake up during sleep or feel some pressure on your joints, this is a major indication of mattress-induced discomfort that may cause back pain.

A Mattress With Reactive Memory Foam Adapts To Your Body

Is Your Mattress Causing Back Pain?


Type: Memory foam | Firmness: Very firm | Delivery: Bed in a box | Trial: 100 nights | Warranty: 20 years

Thanks to its Bio-Pur memory foama proprietary foam thats more responsive and adaptive to movementthis mattress contours your back and neck, promoting proper sleep posture and relieving pressure points. When you have back pain, soft spots can be detrimental to your comfort, but this mattress bounces back in seconds, alleviating sinking and misalignment that can contribute to aches. The Amerisleep AS1 also keeps you cool throughout the night by allowing air to quickly pass through its open-cell design. And it includes its Refresh Cooling Cover. This is the companys firmest mattress.

What the reviews say: We used the Amerisleep King AS1 mattress for close to 3 years and sleep has never been so comfortable, writes one reviewer. It has a great cover and the right amount of firmness. We liked it so much that when we needed another mattress we didn’t even think twice before ordering another one.

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Your Pillow Could Also Be A Problem

If your mattress is comfortable, but you still have unexplained neck or spinal pain, your pillow could also be at fault. Your pillow should be soft and plush enough for a relaxing rest but supportive enough to keep your neck aligned throughout the night. Avoid stacking multiple pillows or elevating your neck too far above your back and spine.

Lets Identify If Your Mattress Is Causing Backache

Backache has a number of causes thus, pinpointing the real reason is complicated.

Nonetheless, all these common symptoms I have shared above indicate towards your mattress being the culprit behind that excruciating backache.

Apart from symptoms, consider the timings. If your back hurts right after waking up in the morning, it is primarily because of the mattress.

Other than that, if you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night, again and again, tossing and changing sides, then consider it another warning sign that your mattress is almost dying.

As per the experts advice, a mattress should be replaced within 8-10 years.

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Effects Of Sleeping On A Soft Bed

The Hammock-effect.When the bed is too soft and sags too much, the body will follow the curves of the sagged mattress. In this case, we speak of the hammock-effect, illustrating the abnormal curve in the spine. Different researchers point out that in order to support the body, there should be no sign of the hammock-effect visible. As illustration A shows, the spine is not aligned correctly and will not relieve back pain.

Limited freedom of movement and moisture drainage. A mattress that is too soft, would contour the body too extensively. In this case, the sleeper would need to use muscles to stabilize the body in an adequate sleeping position. As continuously making use of our muscles during our sleep is next to impossible, the body will bend back into the sagged pit, causing limited freedom of movement and strain for certain muscle groups – this explains why you wake up feeling so tired and stiff in the mornings!

Cons Of A Firm Mattress

Doctors Can

Firm mattresses may be a bit uncomfortable for some individuals such as side sleepers, petite sleepers, and some combination sleepers this is especially true for sleepers transitioning from a softer mattress since the adjustment is more drastic. Firm mattresses tend to cause aches and pains amongst side and combo sleepers because they dont adequately cushion the shoulders and hips. If a person has existing back problems, such as scoliosis, an overly-firm mattress can worsen pain by exacerbating the curve in their spine.

Best overall for back pain

Key features

  • Trial: 200 nights

An award-winning foam and pocket-spring hybrid mattress thats worth considering if you suffer from back pain. It uses the brands specially designed HRX Supreme Foam, which stands for high resiliency extra foam, and isnt just jargon its extra durable and designed with different zones of density to align and support your spine . As per Gibsons advice, this mattress is described as medium firm, but the brand will provide extra layers of memory foam topping to soften it or firm it up should you require.

Five layers of alternating high-tech memory foam and pocket springs combine for a springy yet supremely supportive feel, so itâs no wonder Emma won a wide array of consumer awards for comfort. Emma offers a lengthy 200 night trial and a ten year guarantee.

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You Always Experience The Pain Each Time You Wake Up In The Morning

If you often retire to bet feeling great and in good health but wake up with a lot of pain in your lower back, then this is a clear manifestation that your mattress is to blame for your woes. Just like an old mattress, a mattress that is not firm enough will always make your spine to fall out of spine alignment the entire night. Consequently, a mattress thats too firm will result in the buildup of joint pressure in your hips and this may, in turn, lead to lower back pain. Though you might not immediately experience the pain on your back, it is more than certain that youll feel this pain immediately after getting out of your bed in the morning hours. You can see the top 10 cool gel mattresses which cures your pain and gives you a freshen wake up every morning.

Your Mattress Is Too Firm Or Too Soft

A mattress that’s too firm doesn’t provide enough support to the natural curvature of your spine. This can cause back pain, as well as neck and shoulder pain. On the other hand, a mattress that’s too soft doesn’t offer enough resistance. This can cause you to sink into the bed, which puts stress on your back and spine, causing you back pain.

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Your Bed And Back Pain

When it comes to managing your back pain, you should first take a close examination of the type of mattress you are currently using. Your mattress should offer optimal support to your spine and encourage the right sleeping posture. Typically, a mattress that is relatively harder may exert excessive pressure on your bodys pressure points thus making you feel uncomfortable. Consequently, a mattress that is too soft may offer the much-needed support to areas that need it, but will eventually force your spine to spend many hours in poor and unhealthy sleeping positions. This only implies that due diligence should always guide you into purchasing a high-quality mattress that supports the recommended sleeping posture. You can see the list of our selected 10 high-quality mattresses for back pain.

Each one of us has totally different sleep preferences, a factor that somehow makes it difficult to find a general perfect sleeping mattress. However, experts all agree that you should look for a mattress which is neither too firm nor too soft. If your mattress is too soft, it will encourage your body to sink into it hence resulting in bad posture. On the other hand, if the mattress is extremely hard, it pushes on your pressure points leading to misalignment.

Be Mindful Of Your Sleeping Positions

Can A BAD Mattress Cause Lower Back Pain?

If you are sleeping in ways your body does not quite appreciate, you could be putting a lot of stress and pressure on your neck and spine. Try to keep your spine as neutral as possible and find a sleeping position that promotes genuine comfort for your body.

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What Firmness Is Best For Back Pain

Theres a common myth that you need a firm mattress to get the best support for your spine. But firmness and support arent the same thing.

  • Firmness relates to how much you sink into your mattress.
  • Support relates to how well your mattress supports your spine to keep it aligned.

So, does that mean that mattress firmness doesnt matter? Its not quite that simple. Lets take a look at the differences between soft and firm mattresses.

Can It Possibly Cause Sciatica

If you know anyone that has sciatica, youll probably hear them complain about it constantly. Its quite painful. Sciatica is a painful, tingly or numbing sensation down the side or back of the legs that runs down the sciatic nerve .

Its caused by degenerative disc disease and sleeping on a bad mattress can accelerate or exacerbate sciatica symptoms. Therefore, indirectly, you could say that it can cause sciatica. It certainly wont help!

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Can Fillings Also Settle To Cause Mattress Sagging

Yes, fillings will settle, and they will settle faster than springs. However, the main support in any mattress comes from the spring unit. There are countless fillings used in the mattress industry including natural materials and man made fillings, mainly in the form of polyester fibre and foams. Natural fibres are best if you wish your mattress to avoid sagging over time. This is because they are more resilient and absorb moisture better than polyester for example.

Polyester pads are not necessarily a bad thing in a mattress, but they tend to break down easier when subjected to moisture that we all perspire whilst our body repairs itself through sleep.

Are You Uncomfortable When You Lie Down

Why Does My Lower Back Hurt When I Sit Down

Usually, youll be able to tell if your mattress is uncomfortable. You may have gradually adjusted to your mattress as it aged, but try lying on it for a few moments to gauge its comfort. Does your body feel entirely supported? Do you tense your muscles to maintain a comfortable posture? Do you feel yourself rolling or pulling towards the center of the mattress? Could you easily fall asleep in any position? If your mattress isnt comfortable when youre awake, its probably not any better while youre asleep. Its probably time for a new one.

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How To Tell If Your Bed Is Causing Back Pain

If youre coping with back pain, youre not alone. Its estimated that 5080% of adults experience at least one episode of back pain in their lifetime.

Serious or chronic pain always warrants a trip to your doctor to uncover the root cause. But if your aching back feels better after youve been up and moving for a while, your mattress may be the cause. Here are some telltale signs.

Your Mattress Is Worn Out

Some mattresses wear out quite fast if made poorly or with low-quality materials. However, a mattress can also wear out if you don’t take good care of it. You can enhance your mattress’ durability by doing the following:

  • Cleaning it at least once every 6 months
  • Spot cleaning it every time you stain it
  • Using a mattress protector to protect your mattress from spills and sweat
  • Buying a quality foundation for your mattress
  • Flipping it after every 3 months or so

A worn-out mattress may cause sagging on different parts, turning it into a lumpy mattress leaving you with low back pain. It will also apply constant stress to your joints and muscles causing other sorts of aches throughout your body. Wear can turn a firm mattress soft and uneven, affecting how your spine aligned and making you wake up feeling sore.It’s quite easy to tell when your mattress is worn out and buy a new one. In case it is only slightly worn out, you can purchase a topper to keep it firm enough for use.

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