Spine Alignment - How Do You Tell?

My wife and I were talking about this given all the internet mattress being sold by various companies. If I ordered an mattress from an internet company, the objective is to sleep with my spine aligned. So in testing various mattresses, how do you tell if your spine is straight?

I sure I can tell if it isn’t given the inevitable pain I will feel. But can you tell if someone were to look at you from a side view and see? Just curious


Hi Monte,

That’s a great question :slight_smile:

There are really two ways to tell. The first is visually by looking at the alignment of a person when they are lying on a mattress. Sometimes it can help to first look at them when they are standing up with good posture and “imprint” their body shape along the sides (as if you’re drawing an outline of one side of their body) then see how close they are when they are lying on a mattress. Notice particularly on the side the relative width of their hips and shoulders so you can see if it is close when they are lying on their side. On the side … the spine should be straight just like it is when looking at someone from the front or back. On the back or stomach their spine should follow and be supported in the natural “S” curve of that individual. In the back and stomach position it’s usually not too difficult to see when the hips are sinking in too far and hammocking. It’s also a good idea to try to slide a hand under the “gaps” in the sleeping position to make sure they are filled in (the waist or small of the back). It should be difficult to slide your hand under them. To give you a sense of this … this diagram will help tell the difference between in alignment and out of alignment. What you are generally looking for is hips/pelvis that sinks in too far (sagging into the mattress) or shoulders that don’t sink in enough.

The second way is also important and this involves the person lying on the mattress. The first goal is to completely relax all the muscles. This usually takes a while which is why only lying on a mattress for a few minutes doesn’t generally tell you much. Once the muscles are completely relaxed (like when you are just about to fall asleep) then the mattress will be supporting a certain position rather than the muscles. At this point it’s much easier to sense if your body is trying to avoid discomfort by remaining tense in a certain point or if it just allows itself to “let go” or “release”. If you can completely relax on a mattress in each sleeping position without any sensation of muscle tension or pain or a sense that a certain part is “on the edge” of discomfort … then the odds are much better that the alignment is good. It’s important in doing this that an appropriate pillow is used when testing as this is also part of what creates alignment and the ability to completely relax on a mattress.