What type of mattress is best for your back?

Hi all,

I have some lower back problems. I sleep on a very firm mattress. I was wondering if I should get one of those egg crate things to make it softer.

Thanks a lot,

hi MichaelBevan,

The two main functions of a mattress are to keep your spine in its natural and “neutral” alignment in all your sleeping positions and to provide pressure relief to allow good circulation while you sleep. Everything after this is preferences like motion isolation, sleeping temperature and ventilation, overall feel, durability, price, movement restriction, and many others (some of which are listed in post #2 here).

All the infinite designes and technologies that are inside the thousands of mattresses are about providing these two basic functions along with the preferences that are unique to each person.

Because there are infinite variations of body types and sleeping positions and individual preferences … there is really no one mattress that is “best” for people or certain issues … only for individuals … based on how each mattress (or mattress topper combination) interacts with each person.

There are two different types of support though. The first is primary or “deep” support which is all about “stopping” the heavier parts of the body (mainly the pelvis) from sinking in too far and tilting the pelvis which in turn either flattens or accentuates the natural curves of the spine outside their neutral range (the alignment of the spine when someone is standing straight with good posture). This deep support is the job of the deeper support layers of the mattress.

The second is the secondary support of a mattress which comes mainly from the comfort layers. The primary function of the comfort layers is providing pressure relief (allowing good circulation) but they also fill in the gaps in the sleeping profile and help to support the natural curvature of the spine.

Because of this … a mattress that is too firm or too soft in either the support layers or the comfort layers won’t provide both primary and secondary support for the spine. You can see a diagram of this here.

So adding a topper can provide the missing secondary support and pressure relief that is missing in a mattress but the type and thickness of the topper will depend on the body type, sleeping positions, specific “symptoms and where they are”, and the layering of the mattress it is going on (even very firm mattresses already have some soft layers on top which need to be taken into account.

An egg crate topper is generally less “supportive” than an non convoluted topper and the level or pressure relief and secondary support will also depend on the material that the topper is made of.

So the “generic” answer to your question is that yes … a topper can help with improving both pressure relief and secondary support and if this is the reason for the back issues (and this would also depend on the specific symptoms you are experiencing and the area they are coming from) … then a good topper in the right thickness and material can help yes. The specifics though would depend on knowing more about your body type, sleeping positions, preferences of material (slow or fast response), specifics of your symptoms, and details about the the layering of the mattress that the topper would be going on.