What Is The Best Firm Mattress For Back Pain

What Is The Best Firm Mattress For Back Pain?

What Is The Best Firm Mattress For Back Pain?

I can speak from first hand knowledge how the search for a better bed made a world of difference for my wife and her chronic back pain.  When you live with somebody and they are suffering from back pain – and never get a good night’s sleep… well, it can make your life a little less bright and shiny.  So what is the best firm mattress for back pain?

I’ll get into answering that very question in this blog post.

Sleeping on the wrong mattress can cause bad back pain.  Continued sleeping on one can make it worse.  A mattress that promotes a good sleeping posture and that relaxes muscles will provide you with some quality sleep.

Almost a decade ago my wife and switched from an innerspring mattress to a memory foam mattress.  And it made a huge difference for my wife – and for myself as well, that was nearly immediate.  I didn’t know it, but I never knew how good I could sleep at night until I started using a memory foam mattress.

Of course there is no mattress that is perfect for everyone.  But in a study that compared firm mattresses to medium firm mattresses in people with chronic lower back pain, more people reported sleeping better and having less back pain when sleeping on a medium firm bed.

There is an old school of thought that firmer mattresses are better for people with back pain issues.  But as it turns out from the study mentioned above and others I have reviewed online, the fact is that more people with back pain favor a medium firm mattress.

What Is The Best Firm Mattress For Back Pain

Before I jump into thoroughly discussing the best firm mattress for back pain, I want to express that you should discuss with your physician what their medical advice is for your situation pertaining to back pain you may have.  It may not be sleep related or posture related.  Stress and other known issues can also cause back pain.  Best to get it checked out.

There are a lot of expensive mattress options out there.  But this website, Cloud Sleeping, is all about finding quality and affordable memory foam mattresses.  And I am going to apply the theme here to this post.

When choosing a mattress for back pain you need to know which position is your preferred method to sleep.

  • Back Sleeping: The mattress should be firm enough to support your lower back but soft enough that it contours your entire body properly.  A mattress that is too stiff will push back against your spinal column.  While a mattress that is too soft doesn’t offer enough support.  Ideally a medium firm mattress is recommended for this type of sleeper.
  • Stomach Sleeping: If you sleep often on your stomach you are possibly doing it because you have lower back pain.  You need a firmer mattress to provide a higher level of support.
  • Side Sleeping: A slightly softer mattress in the medium zone of firmness, maybe even still medium firm, is typically ideal for people who likes to sleep on their sides.  Sometimes a little more softness is more comfortable because it cushions shoulders and hips.

Most sleepers tend to do a combination of back and side sleeping.  You want to make sure you have a bed that has good motion isolation, and most memory foam mattresses do.  But for combo sleeping you would ideally want a bed that is medium to medium firm.

Understanding Spinal Alignment And Back Pain

Getting a good night’s sleep with reduced or eliminated back pain is a matter of keeping your spine properly aligned.  Spring loaded mattresses push back on your body and tend to cause more sleeping issues when compared to memory foam mattresses.

Memory foam mattresses support your body’s various areas of weight, and don’t push back on your body.  They cradle your body – this helps keep your spinal column in better alignment while sleeping, no matter what position you sleep in.

See how this memory foam mattress contours and supports the body as needed? Notice the model's straight spinal column?

See how this memory foam mattress contours and supports the body as needed? Notice the model’s straight spinal column?

As you can see from the picture above a memory foam mattress keeps the model’s spine in proper alignment.  This is why more sleep experts recommend a memory foam bed over other types of mattresses.

The ideal bed for dealing with back pain issues is one that is not to soft, and not to firm.  The old reasoning was that you wanted a firmer mattress.  Not anymore!  You want a mattress that cradles and supports.

There are three regions of your spine that support various areas of your body.

  • Cervical:  This is the top third area of your spine.  The cervical zone works to support your head.  A good mattress works to help this area of the spine, but a good pillow is also part of addressing cervical spinal pain.
  • Thoracic:  The thoracic section makes up the middle third area of your spinal column.  This part of the spine works to support your upper body.
  • Lumbar:  The lumbar area is known as the bottom third section of your spine.  The lumbar supports our lower backs, and a little of everything else.  When you have lower back pain from this area it can usually have a greater affect on your activities.

Good posture in your daily routine, but also in your sleeping hours can make a world of difference in having to deal with back pain.

Aren’t Memory Foam Mattresses Expensive?

Yes, they can be.  It was one of the major issues my wife and I struggled with almost a decade ago when looking at buying a memory foam bed.  We spent a few weeks checking them out at local retailers for a cost of a couple thousand dollars.

However you can get a fantastic memory foam mattress with an excellent warranty for just a couple hundred dollars.  You don’t need to spend a fortune buying a foam bed.  You just don’t.  Check out the graphic below.

Get an affordable memory foam mattress, save thousands! Foam beds are great for back pain.

Get an affordable memory foam mattress, save thousands! Foam beds are great for back pain.

Best Mattress For Back Pain – Conclusion

Changing from your current mattress can change your life for the better, especially if you are unfortunate enough to suffer from annoying back pain.  Addressing pressure points and choosing a mattress that you can settle into with proper body sectional support is key.

For more information on foam beds, check out my detailed review of memory foam mattresses here.

Looking to buy a memory foam mattress?  I only review and recommend mattresses I own or have owned.  Check out the mattresses I have and recommend here.

Finding a good mattress for back pain, chronic or not, can make a huge difference in your life.



6 Replies to “What Is The Best Firm Mattress For Back Pain”

  1. Patti

    I love the uniqueness of your site.  Lots of people suffer from back pain.

    When I was reading the comparison of the temper-pedic to the Zinus, I wanted to know more about the price difference. Why are they so different?

    Thanks for an interesting post.  I’m going to look into getting a memory foam mattress in the near future.

    • TD Bauer Post author

      Hi Patti,

      The big difference in price is the Temperpedic has retail stores and sells a lot of mattresses through retail sellers.  Zinus sells direct to the consumer… no middle men involved.  No overhead, no sales people, no stores, no electric bills…etc…etc…

      They cut out the middlemen and sell directly to the you.  Great warranty that’s just as good, mattress construction that is just as good… better price.


  2. Mithra

    Almost everyone in my family suffered from back pain. No matter what we did, none of us could figure out the root cause. A few year ago, my brother suffered a back injury while helping a relative to lift her luggage and twisted his muscle and was bedridden for almost an year. An his physiotherapist suggested that we switch his mattress to memory foam mattress, so that his muscles can get better support and help in the healing process.
    Soon,all of our who-knows-what mattresses of 15yrs were replaced by new memory foam mattresses. Sure, it wasn’t a pleasant sight to look at our bank account as these mattresses are hella expensive. But hey, the ‘Urg! my back” moments soon changed to “I slept like a baby” moments. It was one of the best investments and our mattresses still have 12yrs of warranty!

    • TD Bauer Post author

      Hi Mithra,

      It can add up fast when buying a lot of beds.  Prices have come down considerably over the years.  There are many retailers now selling memory foam mattresses and spring loaded hybrids.  But you don’t need to spend a lot any more to get a good quality foam mattress.


  3. Jim

    My wife and I have both suffered with back pain for a number of years. In the past, we had looked at the possibility of buying a memory foam mattress but, we balked at making a several thousand dollar investment when we were not certain of the benefits.

    But, after reading your article explaining that there is a quality source for memory foam mattresses for only several hundred dollars, I am now encouraged to give it a try. I am willing to gamble a few hundred dollars to test one…just not a few thousand!

    I will also take your advice and choose a medium-to-medium firm mattress. We both move around during sleep like we are in a marathon race!


    • TD Bauer Post author

      Hi Jim,

      Thanks for reading and the comment.  My sister recently decided to give a memory foam mattress a try – as she too has a little back pain in the morning after she wakes up.  Made a world of difference for her and her husband.  They ended up buying a Zinus memory foam mattress, ten inch thick king and love it.  Everybody I talk to that transitions over to a memory foam mattress loves them.



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