The average lifespan of a mattress is between 7 and 10 years. If you regularly wake up with back pain, it could be time for a new mattress, particularly if yours has some age on it.

Since a mattress can be a major investment, it is important to do some research before you decide on your final purchase. Plus, once you know what you are looking for, it helps to make the process less overwhelming.

Does mattress firmness impact back pain?

Mattresses come in three levels of firmness: soft, medium, and firm. The firmness of the mattress will impact how much support your back has while lying on it. Here is a breakdown of the different levels of firmness look like with back support:

  • Soft mattresses: since you sink further into this mattress, this type offers very little support for your back.
  • Medium mattresses: supply the right amount of support for your back, and don’t add additional pressure. Choose this type if you have back pain.
  • Firm mattresses: provide adequate support, but can place a great deal of stress on pressure points in your back.

How about the mattress material?

The type of mattress you choose is just as important as its firmness. Here is a look at some of the most common mattress materials.

Memory Foam

High-density memory foam mattresses are ideal because they easily conform to the contours of your body. This type of memory foam is rated at 6 pounds per cubic foot or higher, and may initially feel stiff and rigid. Once you lie down on it, you will notice it becoming softer after only a few minutes.

Note: some people feel that memory foam mattresses make them too hot. If you are sensitive to overheating at night, look for temperature sensitive mattresses.

Hybrid Mattresses

Many people find that a hybrid mattress, which is a combination of memory foam and traditional inner-spring coils, are ideal for preventing back pain. Inner springs provide you with support, while their memory foam covering gently conforms to your body to provide you with optimum comfort.


Latex mattresses are also an excellent choice for back pain sufferers. That’s because they tend to have a medium firmness and conform to the body almost as effectively as memory foam. Your entire body is more likely to maintain complete contact with a latex mattress than it is any other type. This is important because it can help you eliminate joint pain elsewhere in your body as well.


Futon mattresses tend to offer only minimal support. They are usually rather thin, allowing your body to feel the rails underneath. This can result in hip, shoulder, and back pain when you awaken. A quality futon, on the other hand, may be a great choice due to the fact that they are excellent at supporting your joints. If you go the futon route, be sure to test the quality first and make sure you can’t feel the rails underneath you.

To sum it up

Keep in mind that mattresses that sag in the middle or are either too soft or too firm can result in even those with healthy backs waking up stiff, sore, and aching. Make sure when you buy your new mattress that you have a 30-day money back guarantee and a minimum of a 10-year warranty. For more information on buying tips about mattresses read the Spine Health blog.

For more information on preventing back pain, please feel free to contact us and chat with a health coach.

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