Lower Back Issues, First Latex Mattress

What an amazing site! I’ve learned so much and will be sure to share this wonderful resource with many others.

I’m attempting to solve a very specific problem: my lower back pain, which is very tolerable during the day, was becoming intolerable at night. I tossed and turned and woke every 30 minutes. That mattress was a ~5 year old W-Hotel (Simmons Beautyrest) plush top. It had body impression sags and I felt that the coils were not providing great support.

A few weeks ago, while traveling, I slept on a much firmer innerspring coil mattress and my back felt GREAT that night (incidentally I snapped a pic of the tag of that mattress but I don’t think they make it anymore). To me, that said that I need something much firmer than what I currently had. After a lot of research into the mattress type to go with I decided on Latex and eventually found this one at a small, local retailer:
(this is made by Bedding Industries of America in North Brunswick, NJ)

It felt firm but comfortable in the store–though it was hard to determine how it would impact the lower back pain as it’s not something that comes on instantly but instead takes an hour or so to set in once I am laying down.

I’ve now had this mattress at home (on a new box spring and metal rails) for a couple of nights and the lower back pain feels as bad, or (and I hate to say this)…worse. I definitely need to be patient and don’t plan on doing anything for a few weeks but I did want to see if anyone had ideas in terms of things to try, short of an eventual exchange. Are there off-the-shelf toppers that might be appropriate, or have I possibly just made a bad choice in terms of fit for the problem I was trying to solve?

A little more about me: I sleep mainly on my sides and occasionally my stomach, and I weigh about 200lbs.

Thanks so much in advance for any thoughts, tips or advice!

Hi kevin,

This is usually connected to alignment issues and could either be from the softness of the support component (the innerspring) or the thickness and softness of the comfort layers (either initially or because they have softened since they were new and are allowing your heavier pelvis to sink down too far before they reach the innerspring). If the mattress worked well for you initially then it’s most likely the softening or breakdown of the comfort layers which are the weak link of most mattresses and are the most common cause of impressions in the mattress.

Better support could either be because of a firmer support component (the innerspring) or comfort layers that don’t allow your pelvis to sink down as far. The support component provides what I call primary support (that “stops” the heavier parts of the body from sinking down too far) while the thickness and softness/firmness of the comfort layers provide what I call secondary support (in addition to the pressure relief of the mattress) which contours to your body and helps to fill in the gaps in your sleeping profile and helps maintain the curves of your lumbar spine especially. Pelvic tilt that comes from your pelvis sinking down too far in a mattress is the primary cause of lower back alignment issues and filling in the curves of the spine with “just enough” material that you are as close as possible to the firmer support layers plays a secondary role in alignment. The mattress you linked to has a soft comfort layer (24 ILD) and what most people would call a medium firm support layer (34 ILD). The comfort layer is only 2" which means you would be “going through” it more which is why it feels firmer initially but the support core is not particularly firm. The thickness and firmness of the layers are both equally important parts of a mattress design (along with the type of material of course but latex is a high quality and durable material so it will keep it’s original properties much longer than the lower density polyfoam in your old Beautyrest).

Alignment is what you feel after some time sleeping on the mattress (for most people it’s what they feel when they wake up in the morning) and it’s more difficult to test for in a showroom because much of the initial “feel” of the firmness or softness of a mattress is more about the upper layers and pressure relief. The guidelines for testing for alignment in post #1 here though should be helpful (along with the rest of the basic information, steps, and guideline it links to).

The first thing I would check is whether you have a box spring (that flexes) or a foundation (that is non flexing and rigid). If you have a box spring then it could be contributing to your issues and be part of what is allowing your pelvis to sink down too far. The second thing of course is to give any new sleeping surface time to break in and your body time to make any necessary adjustments. Your new mattress is very different from the mattress you were sleeping on previously. I would also make sure that you talk with Craig about your issues as well and in my conversations with him I found him to be both helpful and knowledgeable about his house brand mattresses which he designed.

If your mattress is too soft then a topper is not a good solution because you would only be creating more distance between the top layers and the firmer support layers of your mattress. A topper can be a good choice if you need thicker or softer comfort layers to improve pressure relief but it’s generally not a good way to make a mattress that is too soft any firmer or improve support because this would normally involve either changing the thickness or softness of the comfort layers or changing the firmness of the support layers rather than adding something on top. Even adding a firmer topper will still follow the softer compression of the softer layers underneath them and at best would only provide partial or temporary improvement and at worst can add pressure issues (if it is too firm) to the alignment issues.

While there is no way to predict with any certainty how someone will interact with a mattress … based completely on guesswork and speculation that needs to be confirmed in your personal experience I would think that the support layer may be a little on the soft side for you. Stomach sleepers that are in your weight range may do well with a 2" comfort layer in the softness range you chose but will often need a firmer support layer to help prevent them from hammocking and hyperextending their back when they sleep on their stomach. Stomach sleeping is the most “risky” sleeping position and conflicts with the needs of stomach sleeping and for those who sleep on their side and on their stomach then the softness/firmness of the top few inches of the mattress needs to be “just barely enough” to prevent pressure issues on your side (and no thicker or softer than absolutely necessary) and/or support layers that are a little firmer than the norm so that you have the least possible risk of alignment issues when you are sleeping on your stomach.


Hi Kevin,

This is Craig…I was checking our analytics and saw this link to our store from the mattressundergound and found your questions.

My main comment would be to give the mattress at least a month and you also know we have a strong 90 day exchange policy.

As far as support to make the mattress even firmer there is a new heavy duty frame out in the market called the escape made by knickerbocker…We have sold a few of them but they are very pricey for most of our customers…We only have it displayed on one mattress in the showroom as my opinion is that it works so well that it may make the mattresses feel firmer and since most people will not have the budget to get them I choose to use the standard frames with center supports in the showroom so that people will get the same feel at home in the showroom…If you are interested in it I can show it to you and work something out on the price.

Also I noticed that you did not order a frame at all and I am wondering what you are using to support the box and maybe that could be a problem as well.

The mattress is firm but not hard as rock but very firm nonetheless .

Also since you had the back pain before you received the mattress and that you tried another bed at a hotel I think you said and that you had no pain…It could be just random or it could be you really need that rock hard mattress.

If you did not have prior back pain you could definitely assume it is the mattress but in this case we can’t just yet…I have another suggestion, I am a former high school wrestler and from my glory days I do get lower back pain from time to time…And when it happens at first I do reach for an advil which usually takes it away:) But more importantly exercising and stretching takes away my back pain after a few days…I usually run a mile to warm up and then STRETCH for 15 minutes after my run and then work out in the gym. We are getting older and our muscles are getting tighter and our posture is probably not the best when sitting at a desk and yes it is painful at first to stretch but after a daily regimen of stretching it will get easier and you will notice within a week how much better you will feel.

The above is just a suggestion:) So if you still have a problem with the mattress you know we are here to help and that we stand behind our promises.

Hi CTF (Craig),

Thanks for taking the time to reach out on the forum :slight_smile:

I think that the best advice possible when anyone has any issues with a mattress they have purchased is to first contact the retailer or manufacturer that they purchased from who is usually in the best position to help and of course this can be especially helpful when they are knowledgeable and committed to their customers satisfaction. Of course your advice about waiting a month or so because of the initial break in period of a mattress and the adjustment period connected to any change from one mattress to another is always a good idea as well and it can be very surprising how much of a difference this can make. If nothing else it provides a much better frame of reference to help with any exchanges that may be necessary.