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Back Pain Relief: What Mattress Should You Choose?


When dealing with a bad back, choosing the right mattress can make all the difference in your sleep quality and overall health. For those wondering “bad back, what mattress is recommended” here’s a quick rundown:

  • Medium-Firm Mattresses: Ideal balance for support and comfort.
  • Memory Foam: Offers great pressure relief and body contouring.
  • Latex: Provides durability and springiness.
  • Hybrids: Combine foam and springs for balanced support and motion isolation.

A good mattress can alleviate back pain, improve your sleep quality, and help you wake up feeling refreshed. Research shows that mattress construction, firmness, and materials significantly impact how well you sleep and how much pain you experience, especially in the lower back.

I’m Ben Trapskin, founder of Yawnder. I’ve experienced the challenges of finding the right mattress for chronic back pain. My journey led me to scrutinize countless mattresses to help others make informed choices. Follow along to find the best mattress tailored to relieve your back pain.

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Understanding Back Pain and Mattress Needs

When dealing with back pain, the right mattress can make all the difference. Let’s break down what you need to know about spine alignment, muscle relaxation, posture, and why a medium-firm mattress is often recommended.

Spine Alignment

Good posture isn’t just for when you’re sitting or standing. It’s crucial when you sleep too. Your spine should maintain its natural curve, and your mattress plays a big role in that. If the mattress is too soft, your body might sink too much, causing your spine to bend unnaturally. If it’s too firm, it might not offer enough give for your shoulders and hips, throwing your spine out of alignment.

Muscle Relaxation

Your muscles and ligaments need to relax and recover while you sleep. A mattress that supports your body well will help your muscles relax, reducing the chances of waking up with aches and pains. Muscle relaxation is particularly important for those with back pain, as tense muscles can worsen the condition.


Sleeping posture is also key. Side sleepers need a mattress that cushions their shoulders and hips. Back sleepers need support for their lower back to maintain the spine’s natural curve. Stomach sleepers should opt for a firmer mattress to prevent the midsection from sinking too deeply, which can strain the spine.

Medium-Firm Recommendation

Studies, like one published in “The Lancet,” have shown that medium-firm mattresses are often the best choice for those with low back pain. They provide a balance between support and comfort, helping to keep the spine aligned and reduce pressure points.

Lumbar Support

The lumbar region (lower back) is especially susceptible to pain. A mattress that offers good lumbar support will help keep this area aligned with the rest of your spine. This is crucial because the lower back has more curvature and range of motion than other parts of the back.

In summary, the right mattress should support your spine, allow your muscles to relax, and maintain good posture. Medium-firm mattresses often strike the best balance for most people, but personal preference and specific needs should guide your final choice.

Proper Spine Alignment - bad back what mattress is recommended

Next, we’ll dive into the different types of mattresses available and how they can help relieve back pain.

What Mattress is Best for a Bad Back?

Memory Foam Mattresses

Memory foam mattresses are popular for their pressure relief and body contouring abilities. They mold to your body, reducing pressure points and supporting your spine. This makes them a great option for back pain relief. However, heat retention can be an issue. Traditional memory foam traps heat, making you feel warmer at night. Look for gel-infused foam to help with cooling.

Be cautious about chemicals. Some memory foam mattresses contain materials that can emit odors or volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Opt for those with CertiPUR-US certification to ensure low VOC emissions and safer materials.

Latex Mattresses

Latex mattresses offer excellent durability and springiness. They provide a supportive and slightly bouncy feel, which helps keep your spine aligned. Latex is also naturally resistant to dust mites and mold, making it a good choice for those with allergies.

There are two types: natural latex and synthetic latex. Natural latex is derived from rubber tree sap and is more eco-friendly. Synthetic latex is made from chemicals and may not last as long. Look for GOLS certification if you prefer organic options.

Hybrid Mattresses

Hybrid mattresses combine the best features of foam and innerspring mattresses. They typically have a supportive coil base and layers of foam or latex on top. This combination offers balanced support and motion isolation. The coils provide good airflow, which helps with temperature regulation, while the foam layers offer pressure relief.

These mattresses are versatile and can suit a wide range of sleepers. They are especially good for couples, as the motion isolation minimizes disturbances from your partner moving.

Top Mattresses for Back Pain Relief

Here’s a look at some of the best mattresses for back pain relief, based on expert recommendations and user feedback.

Saatva Classic

Who it’s for: The Saatva Classic in Luxury Firm is ideal for those who prefer a traditional innerspring feel with a cushioned top. It works well for all sleep positions.

Why it’s great: This mattress combines more than 800 individually pocketed coils with a layer of memory foam and a quilted Euro top. It provides sturdy support and cushions pressure points without being too soft. Users often describe feeling “lifted” and well-supported.

Flaws but not dealbreakers: The lower layer has fewer support coils than pricier models, which could lead to some motion transfer. It’s best for those who sleep alone or don’t wake easily when their partner moves.

Trial Period: 365 nights with a $100 transportation fee if returned.

Leesa Sapira Hybrid

Who it’s for: This mattress suits a wide range of sleepers and offers excellent motion isolation, making it great for couples.

Why it’s great: Combining foam and springs, the Leesa Sapira Hybrid provides balanced support and a bit of a hug without the deep sink of all-foam mattresses. It’s particularly good for back-pain sufferers who want a medium-firm feel.

Flaws but not dealbreakers: You must sleep on it for at least 30 days before initiating a return.

Trial Period: 100 days with free returns.


Who it’s for: The Zenhaven mattress is perfect for those unsure about their firmness preference. It’s dual-sided, offering two firmness levels.

Why it’s great: Made from natural latex, this mattress is durable and springy. It provides excellent support and is eco-friendly. The two-sided design allows you to choose between a softer and a firmer feel.

Flaws but not dealbreakers: The mattress is heavy and requires a platform frame or box spring.

Trial Period: 365 nights with a $99 return fee.

Novaform ComfortGrande

Who it’s for: Budget-conscious shoppers looking for a supportive and comfortable memory foam mattress.

Why it’s great: Available exclusively at Costco, this mattress offers exceptional value. It features a thick layer of memory foam that provides good pressure relief and support.

Flaws but not dealbreakers: It may retain heat, which can be uncomfortable for hot sleepers.

Trial Period: Return anytime for a full refund, including free mattress pickup.

Charles P. Rogers Estate SE

Who it’s for: Those who want a durable, supportive mattress with a bit of bounce from latex.

Why it’s great: This mattress combines latex and coils for sturdy support and cushioning. It’s dual-sided, offering medium-firm and slightly firmer options.

Flaws but not dealbreakers: It’s heavy and requires a platform frame or box spring. Returns come with a $200 recycling fee.

Trial Period: 100 days with a $200 recycling fee.

Tempur-Adapt Medium Hybrid

Who it’s for: Back-pain sufferers who need a firm mattress with excellent contouring.

Why it’s great: Known for its curve-conforming memory foam, this mattress offers firm support while cushioning pressure points. It’s particularly durable, even for those over 200 pounds.

Flaws but not dealbreakers: The foam can be quite huggy, making it harder to move around.

Trial Period: 90 nights with a full refund, less shipping if purchased directly from Tempur-Pedic.

How to Choose the Right Mattress for Your Bad Back

Testing Mattresses

Choosing a mattress for a bad back can be tricky. Your personal preference plays a big role, but there are some key things to consider.

Spine Alignment: Your mattress needs to keep your spine aligned. If your spine isn’t straight, your back muscles and ligaments can’t relax and recover. This can make your back pain worse. A mattress that’s too firm or too soft won’t do the job.

Firmness Levels: Most experts recommend a medium-firm mattress for back pain. In one study, people who used medium-firm mattresses reported less discomfort than those who used firm ones. But remember, firmness is subjective. What feels medium-firm to one person might feel different to another.

Sleep Positions: Your sleep position matters too. Side sleepers often need a softer mattress to cushion their shoulders and hips, while back and stomach sleepers might need a firmer mattress to support their lower back.

Trial Periods: It’s hard to know if a mattress is right for you without sleeping on it for a while. Look for mattresses with a generous trial period. Many companies offer 30 to 100 days to test their mattress at home. If it doesn’t work for you, you can return it for a refund.

Showroom Testing: If you can, try out mattresses in a showroom. Lie down in your usual sleep position for at least 10-15 minutes. Pay attention to how your back feels. Does the mattress support you? Is it comfortable?

Return Policies: Check the return policy before you buy. A good return policy lets you test the mattress at home and return it if it doesn’t help your back pain.

Long-Term Comfort: Even if a mattress feels great in the showroom, it might not be comfortable long-term. That’s why trial periods and good return policies are so important.

Evaluating Mattress Components

When choosing a mattress, it’s also important to look at its components.

Coils and Inner Springs: Mattresses with coils or inner springs often provide good support. Look for a high coil count for better support and durability. Some people find these mattresses more breathable than all-foam options.

Padding: The padding on top of the coils can make a big difference in comfort. Memory foam padding can contour to your body and relieve pressure points, but it might retain heat. Latex padding is more breathable and durable.

Mattress Depth: Deeper mattresses often have more layers, which can provide better support and comfort. But a very deep mattress might be too high for some people to get in and out of easily.

By considering these factors, you can find a mattress that helps relieve your back pain and provides a comfortable night’s sleep.

Frequently Asked Questions about Mattresses for Back Pain

What type of mattress do doctors recommend for back pain?

Doctors often recommend medium-firm mattresses for back pain. A study published in The Lancet found that medium-firm mattresses reduced clinical symptoms of back pain more effectively than firm mattresses (Jacobson, Boolani, & Dunklee, 2003). Medium-firm mattresses offer a good balance of lumbar support and pressure relief, helping to keep your spine aligned while you sleep.

Does a bad back need a firm or soft mattress?

The ideal mattress for a bad back is usually medium-firm. This level of firmness provides enough support to keep your spine aligned without being too hard or too soft. Personal preference plays a significant role here. If a mattress is too firm, it can create pressure points, especially for side sleepers. If it’s too soft, your body might sink too deeply, throwing your spine out of alignment.

How often should you replace your mattress if you have back pain?

If you have back pain, it’s crucial to replace your mattress more frequently. Research shows that older mattresses, especially those over 9.5 years old, can exacerbate back pain and spinal stiffness. Signs that your mattress needs replacing include visible sagging, lumps, or waking up with more pain than when you went to bed.

By keeping these factors in mind, you can choose a mattress that helps manage your back pain effectively.


Choosing the right mattress for back pain can make a world of difference in your sleep quality and overall well-being. As we’ve discussed, the key factors to consider are support and pressure relief. Medium-firm mattresses, especially those made of memory foam, latex, or hybrid materials, have shown to be effective for many people with back pain.

Memory foam mattresses offer excellent pressure relief and body contouring, making them ideal for side sleepers and those with joint pain. However, be mindful of potential heat retention.

Latex mattresses are known for their durability and natural materials, providing a supportive and springy feel. They are a great choice for those seeking a more eco-friendly option.

Hybrid mattresses combine the best of both worlds, offering balanced support with foam comfort layers and a coil system for added structure. This makes them suitable for a wide range of sleepers, including those who move around a lot during the night.

Our top picks for back pain relief include the WinkBed, Saatva Classic, and Leesa Sapira Hybrid. Each of these mattresses has been thoroughly tested in our Seattle lab and field-tested in real homes to ensure they meet our high standards for support, pressure relief, and durability.

Yawnder’s expert evaluations and extensive testing process ensure that we recommend only the best mattresses for back pain. Plus, with our direct-to-door shipping, you can try out your new mattress in the comfort of your own home. Many of our recommended models come with generous trial periods and return policies, so you can make sure you’re choosing the right mattress for your needs.

A good mattress is an investment in your health. Don’t skimp on quality, and take the time to find the mattress that will help you wake up pain-free and ready to take on the day.

For more information and to explore our top-rated mattresses, visit our natural mattresses category.

Have Questions?

Text us at 858-232-5760 for assistance. We’re happy to help!

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