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the best mattress for back pain

How to choose the right mattress for a bad back

Often people do not spend enough time and energy on choosing the right mattress for their needs. If you sleep in a bad bed, it can effect any back problems that you have, or create new ones. Therefore, you need a mattress that supports and relieves pressure on your body correctly. But how do you choose the right mattress for a bad back?

  • Try a wide selection of mattresses – take your time!
  • The position of your spine has to be at a straight angle
  • Choose a mattress with the right support and firmness
  • There has to be plenty of room in your bed
  • Don't forget that a mattress has an expiry date

Try a wide selection of mattresses – take your time!

When choosing your mattress, it's important to take your time as it's not enough to lay on the mattress for just 5 minutes. Take up your favourite sleeping positions and feel whether it's comfortable or not. Try different types of mattress, then you are more capable of choosing the right mattress that fits your needs.

If you are two people sharing a double bed, it's a good idea to try the mattresses together. Do you need one large mattress or two single different ones? It is quite common in Scandinavian countries to have 2 single beds pushed together, so that each person can select their own mattress to meet their needs.

It can take multiple days before your body gets used to a new bed. Make use of the right of return and 100 night trials which many stores offer. Take the mattress home and try it for a few nights. If the mattress does not meet your expectations, you may be able to swap it in-store. Read our bed guide to get an overview of the different types of mattresses.

The position of the spine has to be straight

If you experience problems with your back, the position of your spine is important to consider when choosing the right mattress. To test if the mattress gives the right support, the spine has to be in a straight angle when laying on your side on the mattress. An arched spine is not ideal as it puts strain on the back. Bring your partner or friend to a store and get this person to evaluate the position of your spine while you are laying on the mattress. If you experience any doubt, ask a member of the store team.

Choose a mattress with the right support and firmness

A mattress without the right support and firmness can lead to back pain since the muscles and joints undergo too much pressure. If your mattress is too hard, it can result it back problems. The same also goes for a soft mattress. To figure out whether your current mattress provides the right amount of support, you have to consider if you experience back pain when you get out of bed in the morning.

Another way to test if the firmness of the mattress is right for you, is to lay down on the mattress on your back. Get another person to insert a hand under the lower part of your back. If it's easy to insert a hand underneath the lower part of your back then the bed is too hard. However, if you have to squeeze your hand under your back then the bed is too soft. An even pressure on the hand coming from both the mattress and the lower part of the back indicates that the mattress has the right firmness for you.

Your weight and curves determine how firm your mattress has to be. A general rule is the heavier, you are, the firmer the mattress has to be in order to provide the right support. If you have a curved body, it's a good idea to choose a mattress divided into different zones. This ensures that your shoulders and hips sink correctly into the mattress. The spine must remain at a straight angle as well. 

Plenty of room in the bed

The size of the bed affects your back and sleeping quality, as you have a higher quality of sleep when you have enough space. A bed being too small will hinder your natural movements during the night and can lead to a poor sleeping position that can deteriorate back pain. The bed has to be at least 90 cm wide, 180 cm for a double bed and 20 cm longer than your height. If you are sharing your bed with another person, you need to consider this.

Your mattress has an expiry date

To avoid back problems, it's a good idea to change your mattress in time. Many people mistakenly believe that the mattress does not have to be changed until it is completely worn down. You need to replace your mattress before you actually feel that it is uncomfortable to lay on since it gradually loses its support over the years. A good rule of thumb is that your mattress will last approximately 10 years depending before you need to buy a new one.

Keep an eye on whether your mattress has started to sink in the middle. This will cause you to have an uneven spine, which can cause back pain. If you also experience a better nights sleep in a hotel, rather than you do in your own bed, then it may be time that tour mattress needs replacing.


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