Back pain can cause you to lose mobility as you get older. Among other things, it can keep you from being physically active and thus cause weight gain. The right mattress can play a major role in back pain prevention, especially when you consider the fact that most of us spend about a third of our lives in bed. The question then becomes, what type of mattress can help to avoid back pain? Most orthopedic surgeons recommend firm mattresses over soft, but recent studies suggest that this may not be the best option for everyone.
Related Blog: 5 Pros & Cons of Hard vs. Soft Mattresses
Hard or Soft, Which is Better?
Despite the fact that firm mattresses are widely recommended for those wishing to avoid back pain, there is not much research to support the recommendation. For the most part, firm mattresses are regarded as better because of anecdotes from people who found they had less pain with a board under their mattresses or after sleeping on the floor. Firm mattresses may provide a benefit in that they prevent the spine from moving, which can reduce pain. Many chiropractors have pointed out that the spine is not a straight line and that since hard mattresses do not conform to the body's curves, they may actually have a negative effect on sleep quality.
It should be noted that a firm mattress may not have the same effect on everyone. For example, the spine of a younger person may tolerate its inflexibility much better than that of an older person.
On the other hand, soft mattresses may not be any better. The fact that they conform to the body's shape means that they may help with the alignment of joints, but they can also cause you to sink so deeply that your joints twist painfully during sleep. In other words, the lack of support may cause or worsen back pain.
Medium-Firm Mattresses Provide Equalized Support
Back pain is more prevalent as we age and that is where pressure distribution comes in. The term "equalized support” refers to how a person's weight is distributed on the mattress when they are lying down; a medium firm mattress can help with even weight distribution and thus help you to avoid back pain.
In all cases, test a mattress before you buy. No one type of mattress will suit everyone; your preference is the most important factor when deciding which is right for you.