6 Tips to Finding a Back-Friendly Mattress


This is the second in a 3-part series by Dr. Dickerman on back and neck pain.

Research shows that a proper mattress and pillow can make a big difference in alleviating back and neck pain. If you already have back or neck problems, a proper mattress is a must. A good night’s rest is extremely important to your health in so many ways and a good mattress can help prevent back problems by relieving pressure on joints, muscles and vertebrae.

Rob Dickerman, D.O., Ph.D.

Rob Dickerman, D.O., Ph.D.

As a practicing neurosurgeon, more than 50 percent of my patients come to me with some form of back or neck pain. Many of my patients complain of waking up tired and achy which is obviously problematic to their daily life and often a signal that something is wrong. In fact, the average person spends one-third of their life sleeping, so proper head, neck and back support is critical. This is why I highly recommend a good mattress.

When you sleep, you do not have conscious control over your body position. A good mattress will support the spine no matter how many times you move during the night. Just like people, mattresses and pillows vary. There is not one specific mattress that helps with all back pain, since there are many types of back conditions and each may respond differently.

Some people like the memory-foam mattresses, while others prefer a different type of mattress support. The good news is that there are now multitudes of mattress varieties in which to choose from. I do tend to recommend a firm mattress to patients because firmer is typically better for your spine.

Here are some helpful tips that I recommend:

  • When shopping for a new mattress, take your time in the store trying them out. Wear comfortable clothes so you can move around. Lie down in various positions to see how it feels.
  • Invest in a good mattress and pillow that supports the spine and head and feels comfortable to you. In some cases, a person may benefit from more than one pillow.
  • Make sure the retail store has a 30-day return policy with refund in the event you get the mattress home and find it’s uncomfortable.
  • Sleep on your back or on your side. These positions are generally more supportive of the spine. Do not sleep on your stomach.
  • If you sleep on your side, place a pillow between your knees to reduce rotation of the lower back.
  • Also when sleeping on your side, keep your legs bent at the knees and hips, a position which reduces stress on the lower back.

It is important to find a mattress and pillow that not only provides comfort, but good support provides alignment for the natural curves of your back and neck. Every person is different. A mattress that helps you get restful sleep and reduces pain or stiffness is a good choice. It is important to note that if back or neck pain persists even with a mattress modification, it is wise to see a neurosurgeon to determine if something is wrong with your spine.

The most important thing is to really invest the time to find the right mattress for you. Go to a reputable mattress store, research and test some of the choices as well as ask a lot of questions. Finding the right mattress is an important decision and something that will be with you for a long time, and provide you with restful sleep. A good day starts with a good night’s sleep.

For more information on back and neck pain, request a free Strong Back Kit which includes tips to keep your back in working order.

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