Back Pain? – A New Mattress Could Help

By Clinton Marquardt - Sleep & Fatigue Specialist

September 18, 2007

better sleep, fatigue, insomnia, other disorders, sleep and aging

mattressBack pain is a common complaint especially when trying to get comfortable in bed. Recent studies have shown that choosing the right type of mattress may go a long way in decreasing the stress on those aching back muscles.

The correct spinal position while standing and relaxed is shoulders back and pelvis tucked in with a slight “s” shape if viewed from the side. Researchers compared this position to subjects’ backs as they lay on nine different beds:

  • a foam mattress, often called space foam
  • four types of inner spring mattresses
  • a full-floatation waterbed, and
  • three hybrid waterbeds (Hybrids are covered and padded to more closely resemble regular mattresses)

When lying on the full floatation or hybrid waterbeds, the subjects’ back muscles were significantly strained. Their position resembled a body in a hammock due to the weight of the shoulder and hip areas. Their back muscles would struggle all night to try and correct this unnatural spinal position. This can cause restless sleep with back and neck stiffness in the morning.

The foam mattresses were better, giving the best support to shoulders. However, this extra support left the lower back drooping and caused the shoulders to arch to correct the sag in the lower back.

The inner spring mattresses provided the best support no matter the degree of firmness. The springs support the heavier body parts such as the shoulders and hips without letting them sink too far. This allowed the spine to stay in the correct “s” shape and caused the least amount of muscle strain.

Less muscle strain while asleep results in better relaxation and a deeper sleep.

When you are in the market for a new bed, test the inner spring mattresses first. If you can’t find one you like, try a foam mattress. With the huge selection, variety of price points available today and a little searching, you’ll find the right match for your slumber.

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