What to look for when buying a mattress and alleviating back pain?

Buying a mattress is a significant and consequential expense, so it is best to try out a mattress before committing to it.

There are four key factors to consider when buying a mattress:

Spinal alignment

o   Maintaining the natural curve of the back helps promote restful sleep. This means that the back ought not to be excessively arched, but not flat either. Some of this can be accomplished with an appropriate sleeping position.

o   For back sleepers, placing a small pillow under the knees and a flatter pillow under the lower back will reduce pressure on the spine.

o   Sleeping on the stomach is not recommended for back pain sufferers because it does not preserve the curvature of the spine. But for those who cannot help but sleep that way, using a flat pillow or no pillow at all for the head is recommended. Some doctors also advise placing a small flat pillow under the stomach, hips, pelvis.

o   For side sleepers, placing a pillow between the knees in a way that promotes the alignment of the hip bones can bring relief. The American Academy of Family Physicians points to this position as the healthiest for low back pain. It advises sleeping with knees bent and a pillow under the head and neck and a pillow between the knees.

o   Mayo Clinic offers a helpful slide show showing positions that promote pain-free backs.

o   In addition to smartly situating our bodies during sleep, mattresses can play a role in promoting the proper alignment, too.


o   Comfort is the most subjective of criteria. How comfortable a mattress is amounts, ultimately, to one consideration: who sleeps on it.

o   One size doesn’t fit all. Yes, some universal basic considerations apply—the mattress should support the natural curve of the spine and, as a result, most doctors and sleep experts recommend medium-firm mattresses. But if a softer mattress offers the kind of cushioning and buoyancy that consistently relieve the back pain of some sufferers, it would make little sense for them to switch to a firm mattress. Smaller people (under 120 pounds / 55 kg) often find softer mattresses enough to provide an appropriate support to their frames.

Pressure point relief

o   The areas of the body that are particularly sensitive to pressure are known as pressure points. They can often be felt in bony areas. People suffering from fibromyalgia are particularly prone to developing areas of tenderness.

o   Any mattress that distributes the sleeper’s weight evenly throughout works to relieve the pressure points.


o   Does the comfort layer of the mattress have a cooling effect? Or does it hold your body heat and leave you sweaty and uncomfortable? These questions have become increasingly important to mattress shoppers. Cooler temperatures seem to help. Cooling increases blood flow, and that, in turn, leads to oxygenation.

o   Memory foam, especially in its earliest forms, had the problem of enveloping the body with too much heat and was particularly bad for the sleepers prone to hot flashes or night sweats or who lived in warmer climates.

Helpful? We just want you to feel healthy.

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