I'm lost looking for a bed with a bad back

I live in Ottawa, On and I’m looking for a new bed and I have no idea what to get. I have had a bad back for going on for over two years now. Mostly in my upper back in my scapula and neck. I have been sleeping on my floor with a memory foam topper for the last year or so. It has not helped my back out at all but when I tried going back to my soft bed it just made my back worse. I’m getting tired of sleeping on the floor and looking to invest in a new bed but I don’t want go out and spend a bunch of money just to end up sleeping on the floor again. I’ve tried a few mattresses out in the stores but it’s really hard for me to say without waking up on one and seeing if my back is worse off than it was before I went to bed. I’m looking to spend about $1,000 and any suggestion would be much appreciated. Thanks…

Hi Stephen,

In essence … a mattress has two basic functions which is to relieve pressure and to keep you in alignment. While a suitable mattress may not heal back pain which is caused by issues other than a mattress … it can certainly help in the healing process and there is no doubt that a “bad” mattress can cause or aggravate back issues. Beyond these two basic functions it becomes mostly a matter of preference. Different types of construction and materials can also lead to mattresses that have very different feels and characteristics which may suit the widely varying preferences of different people. These include heat issues, the preference of sleeping either “in” a mattress (like with memory foam) or more “on” a mattress (like with latex), ease of movement, natural vs synthetic materials, motion isolation and others.

Depending on your sleep position … the upper part of the mattress needs to be thick and soft enough to both fill in the “gaps” in the sleeping profile and to create a cradle that conforms to the shape of your body and spreads out the body weight enough to relieve pressure points. The lower layers of the mattress needs to be firm enough to “stop” the heavier parts of your body from sinking in too deeply which leads to poor spinal alignment and possible back pain.

There is both an “art” and a “science” to choosing the best mattress and in my experience, the people who are most skilled in both are the people who actually design and make mattresses or who have been trained to focus on mattress materials and construction rather than “stories”. This is why I recommend local manufacturers whenever possible as they are not only the most knowledgeable about mattress materials and construction and the type of mattress that is most suitable for different types of people with different weights, body shapes, and sleeping positions, they are also the most helpful in terms of sharing accurate and truthful information that are based on facts. They are much more committed to helping you discover the mattress that is the best for your unique circumstances than they are in selling you the mattress that helps their profit the most. They also as a rule use much higher quality materials and sell for lower prices than mass market outlets, national “name” brands, and chain stores.

If you find an outlet like this … most of the frustration of mattress shopping is over and with their help you can focus on actually testing mattresses with the help of someone who can truly help you understand why each mattress and different materials may or may not be suitable for your circumstances.

There are several of these type of factory direct manufacturers near Ottawa which are listed in this thread. By going to places like these … you can save yourself many hours of the frustration of trying to sort out all the stories you are being told and trying to learn enough that you could make your own mattress. They already have done the homework and are “on your side” rather than on the side of the most profit for the store. They often do little advertising and depend on word of mouth and reputation that has been built locally over many years much more than they depend on selling massive numbers of mattresses based on fake sales and misleading advertising and sales techniques.

They allow you to use the services of an expert that is working in your best interest rather than having to become an expert yourself.