We very often find patients can ask us what mattress we think would be good for their back pain, or who specifically call us looking for advice on a mattress to buy. If you’re suffering with back pain, enough to contemplate spending a lot of money on a mattress, you may be having it quite consistently throughout the day and perhaps the night too. A lot of people can then draw conclusions that they now find their mattress too hard, too soft or just plain uncomfortable now they have back pain, and feel they need to make a change to get relief. But buying a new mattress is not just a big expense, it’s also one that’s not likely to make a difference in your spine – so if you’re considering buying a mattress for your back pain, we’re going to list a few things you can do before that will have much more of an impact in the long-run.
If you are indeed having back pain throughout the day and night, you may find more benefit in the long-term by looking at what you’re doing throughout the day rather than the night. This can be especially the case if you find that when you fall asleep, you move around a lot or you’re not somebody who can sleep like a log. If you spend your day sitting at a desk, perhaps you tend to slouch or round your back and shoulders over your computer, or maybe you have an active job but are not taking care in how you move your body – for example when lifting anything. If you suddenly come down with back pain, don’t automatically make a link that it’s your mattress because you’ve been in your job for a number of years and it’s not caused you trouble in the past. Back problems can come about after weeks, months or even years of incorrect posture or not taking care of your spine, so that’s something to bear in mind.
Why Buying A Mattress Is Not The Answer
If you go to invest in a mattress, perhaps you shop for one online or in a store, and think immediately that it seems comfortable and it eases your back pain, if it does indeed help to relieve your back pain over the course of the next few days or weeks, you may find that when you don’t have any pain that the mattress becomes uncomfortable and not suitable for you – because you’re not putting yourself in those positions again. Instead, visit a professional who will investigate what exactly is the underlying cause of your back pain, why it’s occurred and treat that. Once you’ve treated the problem and you’re not in pain anymore, would be the perfect time to invest in a new mattress – one that will appropriately support your body during the night.
Active Sleepers vs. Still Sleepers
We mentioned earlier if you’re an active sleeper, ie. you move around a lot, you may not benefit from a new mattress as much as treatment. But if you are quite a still sleeper there may be things you can do when you’re asleep that will help you during the day. For example, starting off in an ideal sleeping posture is the best way to support your body. This would be either laying on your back or your side – if you choose to lay on your back then you should have a pillow that correctly supports you (you can read our guide on choosing a pillow for your neck HERE). If you sleep on your side, make sure that you’re using a pillow that doesn’t prop your head but rather fits in the nape of your neck and allows your head to drop back to support the natural curve in the neck. You should also pop a pillow between your knees, so that this doesn’t apply more pressure than needed on the glute muscles.
We find the Tempur mattresses to be ideal since they support the body’s natural alignment. If you move around a lot when you sleep, investing in these things will not make much difference for you because you’ll be moving around too much to stay in those ideal positions. Furthermore, just to reinforce how important treatment is even if you are a still sleeper and are thinking of investing in a mattress or pillow, the benefits of these types of mattresses and pillows are often not found straightaway in back or neck pain sufferers. Since you may be in pain, you just may not find adopting the correct sleeping posture comfortable, in the same way you may find it uncomfortable to sit with correct posture at your desk or on the tube at first.
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