Local latex options?

Hello Phoenix.

Thank you for all you do here. This site has been invaluable in my efforts to become mattress savvy.

I think I need to replace our current mattress as I am waking every morning with lower back pain. I do like the feel of the mattress but cant help think it’s contributing to the back pain. I’m 6’1’‘/200lbs and mainly a side sleeper ( I love to flop on my stomach some but am trying to stop that for the sake of my back.) My wife is 5’8’’ 140 lbs and sleeps on her side too. She is very happy with our current mattress. I would like to buy from a local manufacturer if at all possible and am hoping you know of some options in the St. Paul/Minneapolis area other than the OMF.

Our current mattress is a 7 year old latex from The Original Mattress Factory. It is the more basic of the two described below:

“We have two different foam mattresses: the Latex and the Latex Supreme. Both models feature 2 sided mattresses built with a 6” Talalay Latex core (ILD of 30 – 34 / Density 4.7) as well as real, working box springs. The main difference is that the Latex Supreme has an additional convoluted (egg-crate shaped) Talalay Latex foam topper (ILD of 17 – 21 / Density 3.25), making it thicker and softer than the regular Latex model.

Unlike visco-elastic or memory foam, latex foam is an instant response foam that immediately returns to its original shape. Talalay refers to the process by which the foam is made. The Talalay latex that we use is the highest quality available and is approximately 40% natural (it comes from the tropical rubber tree) and 60% synthetic. This blend creates the best product because it combines the resiliency of the natural latex with the consistency of the synthetic foam."

In addition to any local options you may know of, I would love to get your thoughts on these two mattresses and how they would rank in the latex mattress universe. Do these appear to be good examples of well made latex mattresses? Should they provide a good example of how a latex mattress SHOULD feel or is there room for improvement? Finally, if buying locally is not an option, any recommendations on specific models from some of you favorite manufacturers would be great.

Your help is much appreciated.


Hi Srehn,

Both of the OMF latex mattrresses are good quality and good value. They both have 1" of polyfoam in the comfort layers which is the “maximum” that I would consider but with only this small amount … impressions are not usually an issue and it gives a mattress a softer “hand feel” which many people seem to like although I personally would prefer to see them use all latex. This is not an unusual construction and the latex itself is very durable…

OMF is a little unusual though in that it sells its latex mattresses with a working box spring. Normally a foam core mattress and especially a latex mattress does best on a solid non flexible foundation as that is where its supportive qualities work to best advantage. In addition to this … most latex mattresses … especially talalay latex constructions … will use a thicker comfort layer using 2-3" of softer latex (usually in the range of 19 - 24 ILD) over a firmer support core. The model you have only has an inch of polyfoam for a comfort layer. The Supreme has 1.5" of softer convoluted latex and an inch of soft polyfoam over the support core which would be more typical.

While a thin comfort layer is usually better for stomach sleeping … it is not usually preferred for side sleeping because there are more “bony prominences” in this position that need pressure relief and there are more “gaps” which the foam needs to fill in … particularly the gap in the mid lumbar area.

There are two possibilities that I can think of that could be contributing to your back pain.

The first is that the mattress is too firm for you on top … particularly if you are sleeping more on your side. This could result in muscle tension or “twisting” to compensate and relieve pressure. This could also result in not “filling in the gap” in your more recessed lumbar area which could lead to less support there even though it would support your hip/pelvis area. You could check this by having your wife slide her hand under your waist area while you are on your side to see if there is a “gap” there (the hand would slide under fairly easily). The “fix” for this would be a topper of softer latex … probably in the range of 2".

While 32 ILD would be considered fairly firm on top of a mattress … it may also not be quite firm enough to give you the best support (even though it may be fine for your wife). The box spring may also be partly responsible for why it feels OK for your wife as it may somewhat make up for the lack of a softer comfort layer and help her sink in better. It may of course also be because she likes firmer than usual comfort layers and is not as sensitive to pressure on her hips and shoulders.

The second possibility is that the box spring in combination with a “medium” ILD latex may be allowing your hips to sink in too far. This may also be contributing to your back pain. The “fix” for this would be to put the mattress on the floor or on a piece of plywood over the box springs for several nights to see if that made a difference with your alignment. This would result in a much firmer feeling mattress because there would only be 6" of latex to compress and absorb your weight so the topper would likely be necessary to make up for removing the box spring (and the pressure relief would be better with a topper than with a box spring). With a firmer base and a softer topper … you would likely have both better pressure relief and better support and alignment.

I would start with the firm foundation though (assuming you are using the boxspring) and see how this works for your back pain (even if it causes some pressure issues … you would know this can be fixed with a topper without losing alignment).

There are a couple of other manufacturers or factory direct outlets near you besides OMF (although I somehow doubt that it is time to change your mattress) …

http://www.restwellmattress.com/locations.asp Regional independent factory direct manufacturer that makes a wide range of mattresses including latex (Dunlop) and latex hybrids (latex and innersprings). They also make the mattresses that are sold at www.roomandboard.com

http://www.pennymustard.com/index.cfm Retail direct outlet for Platinum Dreams mattresses made by Clare Bedding. They are a high quality line of mattresses which includes latex and latex hybrid options.

http://www.myrestassuredmattress.com/index.html. Independent factory direct about 80 miles away. They seem to make high quality mattresses using “old style” high quality construction methods but they don’t mention anything about all foam or latex mattresses. May be worth a phone call.

These should give you some variety in testing latex besides just the 2 models available at OMF. Again though … I suspect you won’t need a whole new mattress.


Thank you for the thoughtful response Pheonix.

I neglected to mention we have not been using a box spring. Until recently the mattress rested on a metal slats. I replaced those with a two “bunkie boards”. I think the change has been somewhat helpful though it’s only been about seven nights. I cant really see any low spots in the mattress, however, when I’m on my side it seems overly compressed under my pelvis. It may just be my imagination though. I’ll have my wife check for gaps and go from there.



Hi Srehn,

It seems that the foundation is not the issue … so that means focusing on other possibilities.

I think the answer is somewhere inside this …

For most people … 32 ILD would be somewhat firm and there may not be enough pressure relief on wider lighter shoulders to allow them to sink in enough. When this happens … there is a tendency to either change position or to “twist” the shoulders to distribute pressure from the shoulders to the chest which can lead to twisting of the spine … and back pain. Sometimes people will put their arm under their head to change the shape and surface area of the shoulders and distribute pressure onto the rib cage. Same thing can happen with the hips if there is too much pressure there and the body tries to “twist” (move the top leg forward) to relieve pressure. All of these are more common with people who tend to “shift” towards the stomach position rather than the back position. This can be aggravated if the ILD of the mattress under the hips isn’t firm enough to “hold them up” and they are sinking in too far which can aggravate the twist. This can result in a half stomach half side sleeping position which is twisted in some fashion. The odd thing is that this can mean the mattress is both too firm on top (for pressure relief) and too soft (usually under the hips in the deeper layers for best alignment).

A topper can correct the “too firm on top” symptoms of pressure on the shoulders or the hips for side sleepers and relieve the tendency to “twist” towards your stomach as much. A pillow that is suitable for the sleeping position (holds the head up high enough when sleeping on the side) can also help. If the underlying pelvis support is too soft … then some form of zoning in the topper can also make a slight difference although zoned toppers are harder to find than zoned support cores or innersprings and don’t make as much difference in alignment. There are also more creative “zoning” solutions such as those that Catherine is trying in the later posts in this thread.

The lumbar gap (hand under the waist) would generally only be a problem if the mattress is even firmer and you are not sinking in enough in the hips to fill in the gap which doesn’t seem to be an issue here even though it is still worth checking.

In a single layer mattress such as yours (with only a very thin polyfoam comfort layer) … talalay is often not as “effective” as Dunlop latex because it doesn’t have the same sag factor (rate of firmness increase as you sink deeper) as Dunlop so it doesn’t have the same ability to be both soft enough on top and firm enough underneath without increasingly firm layers.

Does any of this seem to apply to what you are experiencing or your “typical” changes or shifts in sleeping positions?



I think you’ve nailed the source of the problem:

“Same thing can happen with the hips if there is too much pressure there and the body tries to “twist” (move the top leg forward) to relieve pressure.”

That is exactly what I do. I think. My stomach position involves me pulling my right knee up towards my head as far as possible. I’ve been doing this to give my arthritic right hip some relief. I don’t end up on my stomach completely and I’m definitely not on my side at that point so maybe that’s enough of a twist to cause the problem. In a perfect world, the right topper or mattress would take some pressure off my hip which in turn would eliminate the desire to move to my stomach. Correct?

I cant get past this feeling that the foam under my hips has gotten softer over the years. I have laid a straight edge across it and can only see a very very slight depression. A 1/4" max I would say. Is there any chance that latex can soften up without showing it? I would love to focus my search on a topper, but worry about putting it on top of a worn out mattress.

Again, thank you for all your help.


Hi srehn,

In a perfect world … yes. This “half and half” side/stomach position is fairly common. There are many variables involved though … many of which may not even have to do with your mattress (including what you are used to or your sleeping “habits” even after a mattress change).

While it is not likely that the latex core has become significantly softer … a slight softening along with the more likely softening of the polyfoam on top could well be the issue. If the polyfoam becomes too soft … then you will go through it more easily onto the firmer latex and it will be both “softer” on top and “firmer” underneath that. This is the reason that I normally recommend that an inch of polyfoam is the maximum that some considers in the comfort layers of a mattress.

There is also a good chance that your own sleeping habits or needs have changed. If you are sleeping in a certain position more than you used to … then your perception of how firm or soft the mattress is will also change as different areas of your body profile are coming into contact with the mattress. For example if you were sleeping on your side with a 2 or 3" soft latex layer … it may be perfect and not really feel soft as in this position your “bony protrusions” like your hips and shoulders would be sinking in more deeply and beyond this you would feel the “firmness” of the layers below it. This same person in the half and half position would need to sink in less deeply for pressure relief and yet their hips may now sink in further than they needed to and be out of alignment. This feeling of sinking in too deeply is often “translated” into a perception that the mattress is too soft even though it is still good in the side sleeping position and the pressure relief is better.

In your case … I would tend towards another 2" of latex on top to create better pressure relief without making it so thick that it aggravates the out of alignment condition. This may reduce the temptation to twist and keep you on your side for longer although the habit may remain to some degree. Even an inch of latex would make a difference although I suspect it may not be enough. The ILD (softness) of the latex topper would also be important and the firmest (and thinnest) that would relieve pressure on the hips and allow your shoulders to sink in enough on your side would be the best bet. The thinner and the firmer that will do the job the better because the ILD of the latex underneath is not particularly firm and will allow you to sink down more than a firmer latex (36 - 44 ILD) underneath.

So I would tend to think that the issue is not so much the softening of the latex as it is the incremental changes in it in combination with the polyfoam and changing sleep habits.

Of course there’s nothing “wrong” with buying a new mattress but I wanted to make sure that you looked at other possible options as well.