Best Mattress for Back Pain

I’m Marc Anderson, and I’ve been in the mattress industry for 25 years, both in the brick and mortar retail side as well as online with my own e-commerce web sites. I’ve been the CEO of several companies that have designed and manufactured mattresses created exclusively to relieve back pain. One of the most commonly asked questions by customers, of all ages, is which kind of mattress is best for both chronic back pain and occasional pain issues?

There are a lot of mattresses to choose from online that, at first glance, may seem be a good fit, but very few mattresses, especially if they are made with primarily foam layers, that will relieve back pain. The key is to find a mattress with what we call the right “cake recipe”, that is the perfect combination of layers, including the kind of materials, the density and thickness of those layers, and even the kind of fabric that is used for the outer covering, as this influences the flexibility of the underlying materials and just how much back pain relief you will experience.

As an expert in the different kinds of materials that make up the “cake recipes” of a mattress designed to relieve back pain, I am extremely familiar with components, including polyurethane and urethane foams, natural latex and soy based foams, coils large and small, air chambers for sleep number style beds, and exterior fabrics and quilting for the finished top, which is referred to as the “body contact” part of a mattress. But is there a magic recipe for the perfect bed that helps ease back pain all across the board? Well…yes and no.

I can give you advice on beds to steer clear of, and suggest materials that really should be incorporated into a mattress designed for therapeutic application for back issues. One thing to remember is that humans are unique and very individualized creatures. We are all shaped differently, our musculature and connective tissues are not aligned exactly the same, our vertebral columns responds to stimuli differently, we perceive pain very differently, and there is no one perfect solution, but there ARE key ingredients that should be considered in the “cake recipe” of your ideal bed.

One common ingredient that a back pain relieving mattress seems to have in most cases, is memory foam. Another ingredient that offers back pain relief, but is an all natural product and has a more lively sensation to it, is natural latex. These two components are critical essentials to a mattress that is targeted at back pain sufferers. The simple reason is that these two ingredients distribute weight laterally, or sideways, rather than down, and help ease pain by eliminating pressure points.

If you have chronic back pain as the result of trauma or surgery, which many of our readers struggle with, buying a quality mattress that relieves pressure by redistributing your weight across the entire surface of your mattress should be precisely what you are seeking. Not to worry, as we have researched a curated selection of a handful of mattress choices that deliver on the pressure relief that you will need.

the cake recipe for a mattress designed to relieve back pain: eliminate pressure and increase comfort and support

The most significant and effective relief from back pain in a mattress, in my experience, can be obtained from a combination of memory foam, latex, and a firmer and supportive base or foundation layer at the bottom, if you choose to buy a bed in a box type mattress online, as an example. 

A coil or innerspring mattress is a good choice too, but you get better results with a layer of latex and memory immediately in combination with one another, sandwiched together, on top of the coil layers. I’m going to unravel all of this in a moment, with some bullet points, to make it easier.

I once had a customer call me who had been bitten by a tick and contracted Lyme’s Disease. The woman was only 30 years old, was essentially bed ridden, and had horrible back pain. She truly suffered, could not work, and her pain was so awful that she cried herself to sleep. 

At the time, we did not custom make mattresses and we sold a standard lineup. I stepped out of my comfort zone and designed her a mattress, from scratch. She had it for a week before she called to tell me that she finally, FINALLY, slept through the night. I was thrilled, and she was able to enjoy resting her head on a mattress that relieved her pressure.

Surprisingly, the mattress was surprisingly simplistic: it contained a fairly dense bottom layer of polyurethane foam, about 6” thick, and immediately above it I incorporated a 2” layer of natural latex, and above that a 2” layer of specialized memory foam which was a little more dense that the kind of memory foam used in most mattresses sold online in the “bed in a box” category. The outer cover was kept fairly thin, not overly quilted (the woman slept hot), and was made using a bamboo fabric that felt smooth, uplifting, and cloud-like. 

For severe back pain, associated with herniated discs, as well as neurological issues such as sciatica, and shoulder and hip injuries, I recommend a mattress that has a fairly supportive base, really as firm as you can tolerate, but with memory foam and gel foam on top. Memory foam and gel foam are specialized materials, first invented by NASA, to distribute weight laterally, spreading the impact and the weight, rather than in pinpoint fashion in a downward direction. 

This characteristic alone, taking advantage of materials that spread weight sideways, as if you are spreading pizza dough to the edge of a pan, is crucial in creating as close to a “zero gravity” effect as possible to distribute load. Also, these materials generally do not sleep hot, despite what you read, largely due to cooling technology being built into the outer covering of most mattresses these days.

Memory foam actually has a “false reputation” for sleeping hot, but after 20 years working very closely with the material, I have to totally disagree, and as far as I am concerned, it is a miracle ingredient.

Natural latex is highly beneficial for back pain too, though I like it better in lower back and hip pain applications. Being botanically derived, too, is a good thing, especially when there are allergies and sensitivity to petroleum based chemicals involved. My Lyme Disease customer had an aversion to anything fragrant, and the latex we used for her really helped with that.

Natural latex is highly responsive, whereas memory foam is doughy and wraps around your body, cradling it. Latex is spongy and very “fast”, and you tend to float above it a bit more than memory foam. Each material has wonderful qualities, and it is when you combine them that you really squeeze the benefits out of each and exponentially increase their benefits. Take a look at all of the models we offer below. Truly, I feel that all of them are good choices for back pain sufferers, but let’s give specifics for choosing each one based on your back pain type and situation.

I’ve put together a selection of beds that I believe are helpful. Here’s the list below with links. I’ve matched up each selection with a specific recommendation.

an expert’s list of the best mattresses for back pain and pressure relief

THE PUFFY original MATTRESS: THE BEST MATTRESS ON THE WEB

Three models, delivering best in class pressure relief, precision spinal alignment, with a sumptuous, nest-like feel. Uses top of the line luxury components and textiles, safer, low VOC and formaldehyde free Certi-Pur foam.

Designed for all types of sleepers, The Puffy Original Mattress employs their “CloudFoam”, a soft yet highly porous and breathable gel/memory foam, which is buoyant and yielding and distributes heat and weight away from your body.

Excellent for chronic back pain, but is softer than many foam mattresses. Google reviews: 4.9 Rating out of 5, from a total of 6,572 Online Reviews. The Puffy Original, priced at just $850 in queen, it garners best in class verifiable reviews from its owners.

HABITAT ASCEND DIGITAL AIRBED

Habitat Furnishings offers the best digital sleep number style airbed on the market. Half the price of sleep number beds. The bed is made with both natural latex and premium memory foam, the best recipe you can get for back pain. Built-in sumptuous pillow top. LED remote controls with memory setting. Sale offers $1200 off everyday prices. 90 Day Free Trial, solid warranty, made in USA! Best bed for couples, allowing for individual settings on each side.

NOLAH MATTRESS: MADE FOR SIDE SLEEPERS

Soft and sumptuous, and built for side and side/back sleepers, The Nolah Bed is made with clean ingredients, including a specialized material called cooling AirFoam™. It’s scientifically proven to provide 4x better pressure relief on hips, shoulders, and back. Also, the company donates proceeds various wildlife management organizations. A good way to give back and get the pain relief you deserve.

THE HYPHEN MATTRESS: COPPER INFUSED, designed for pain relief

A uniquely designed foam hybrid mattress that offers a moderate degree of plushness and support. No trampoline, no quicksand. Copper infused foam provides antibacterial qualities. 10” finished height, 100 night trial, 20 year warranty, $950 for a queen. Free shipping. Owners rave over back pain relief and side sleeper benefit.

5G AND EMF SHIELDING MATTRESS: THE ANTI-AGING BED®

Hybrid mattress featuring EMF and 5G radiation shielding system. FDA backed technology using static and charge removal surface. Detox, remove free radicals, and get restorative and recharged rest. The true “bio-hack anti-aging mattress”. Ground your body, relieve back pain. Owners swear by it. FDA proven to enhance recovery for injuries, increase general wellness, temporary increase in local blood flow and promotes a restful night of sleep.

DREAMCLOUD LUXURY HYBRID: optimized for back pain relief

Described as a soft, breathable sanctuary, the Dreamcloud delivers on back pain relief. Nice buildup with sumptuous cashmere quilted top, floating pocketed coils, and a quality 4lb. density layer of gel infused memory foam.

Owners report excellent support with no bottoming out. Great for neck and shoulder pain too. Minimal motion transfer and soft on shoulders and hips, it’s just $899 in queen.

With my link, get $399 worth of free gifts included in your purchase, plus 365 night trial period, Lifetime Warranty.

THE AWARA MATTRESS: LEVITATE YOURSELF

This outstanding natural latex hybrid bed is loaded with clean, chemical free ingredients. You’ll nest upon a breathable organic quilted top, and beneath you, your body floats on 4” of botanical Dunlop latex. Individually pocketed coils suspend and hover you, relieving lower back pain and pain between shoulders. Delivered with 365 day no questions asked trial and FOREVER warranty! Thickest layer of pure latex rubber on the market helps melt pain away.

THE REAL BED – SUPERNATURAL COMFORT FOR COUPLES

An outstanding natural mattress that delivers supernatural comfort and levitating support. An organic outer quilted cover, a layer of eucalyptus infused rayon that cools, organic wool, 3” of pure botanical latex all floating above a pocketed coil system that evenly supports your body. Supports your spine with pinpoint precision. Compare at $1800 and up. Queen just $950. Proven “cake recipe” of latex and pocketed coil layer.

SWEETNIGHT HYBRID MATTRESS: TEXAS MADE

A wonderful hybrid mattress without all of the middleman costs. $598 for a king size bed. Individually wrapped pocketed coils, and a unique hybrid foam layer system above providing a bouncy yet pressure relieving sensation. Cooling technology built into the cover. We like the quality of the gel foam used in this Texas made brand. Solid 10 year warranty. Great for side sleepers and shoulder pain sufferers. A third of the price of identical “BigMattressInc” beds.

DIAMOND “GRATEFUL” MATTRESS

Looking for great support, especially at hips and shoulders? Our team loves this unique coil and foam hybrid. Gel memory foam on top, a pocketed coil system below with zoned support for torso and hips. A unique feature: a foam edge which provides perimeter support for sitting and increases usable space on the mattress. Queen size $999, 120 Night Trial. A+ marks.