The Best Mattress for Back Pain 2021Updated on August 19, 2019 While all product recommendations are chosen independently, we may receive compensation for purchases made through our site. Learn more about our affiliate program here.
The vast majority of people experience back pain over the course of their lives. While there are many potential causes, often the source of this pain can be traced back to issues relating to how someone sleeps.
A mattress that helps to keep the spine aligned and that relieves the body’s biggest pressure points is much more likely to prevent or alleviate back pain. If you have back pain or worry about back pain, choosing the right mattress is not something to take lightly.
You can keep scrolling through this guide for background about back pain, details about how a mattress can help, and insight into the types of mattresses on the market today. You can also see our top picks below and read a review of each at the bottom of the page.
Please remember that while our guide is thorough and well-researched, it is not a replacement for medical advice. Always consult your doctor or qualified physician with any questions or concerns you have regarding medical conditions, treatments, and advice.
What Are the Best Mattresses For Back Pain?
|Manufacturer||Model||Mattress Type||Firmness||Price (Queen)|
|Saatva||Innerspring||3 choices: Plush Soft (3-3.5), Luxury Firm (5-6), Firm (8)||$1,199|
|Aurora||Hybrid||3 choices: Soft (3-4), Medium (5-6), Firm (7-8)||$1,699|
|WinkBed||Hybrid||3 choices: Soft (4.5), Luxury Firm (6.5), and Firm (7.5)||$1,599|
|MemoryLux||Foam||3 choices: Soft (4), Medium (5.5), Firm (7)||$1,599|
|Nectar||Foam||Medium Firm (6)||$799|
*Price varies by mattress size from twin up to California King (those listed are Queen). Optional pillowtop accessories may increase price in some models.
Why we like it:
- Stability and responsiveness from coil-on-coil construction
- Memory foam lumbar pad for targeted support
- Available in Soft, Luxury Firm, and Firm options
- Free installation and haul-away of your old mattress
Many people who struggle with back pain need a mattress that is responsive but at the same time offers a sense of stability. With its combination of two types of innerspring coils and carefully selected foams, the Saatva mattress provides just that combination.
The support core in the Saatva is made with steel innerspring coils that are either four inches or seven inches tall depending on whether you select the 11.5-inch or 14.5-inch height. The coils provide the base upon which the other layers deliver enhanced pressure relief and comfort.
Above the support core is a four-inch layer of micro-coils. These are individually-wrapped coils, giving them dramatically improved responsiveness that can give cushioning where your body needs it most. The micro-coils have a reinforced foam perimeter that boosts edge support and the overall sense of stability on this mattress.
In the comfort layer, the Saatva has a thin memory foam lumbar pad as well as a polyfoam layer with extra polyfoam stitched along with fiberfill into a euro-style pillow top. These materials provide a sense of luxury while at the same time improving responsiveness and pressure-point relief to reduce back pain.
Depending on your comfort preference, you can choose between Plush Soft (3-3.5), Luxury Firm (5-6), and Firm (8) models. Most people with back pain do best with the Luxury Firm option.
Each Saatva mattress comes with free delivery and installation, and they’ll also haul away an old mattress at no extra charge. You have 120 nights to return the mattress if you aren’t satisfied for any reason, but if you make a return, the company will subtract a $99 return shipping fee from your refund.
Why we like it:
- Bounce and responsiveness from pocketed coils
- Multiple design features fight heat retention
- Choice of three firmness options
The Aurora mattress from Brooklyn Bedding is a hybrid that supports the spine, maintains bounce, and stays cool, all contributing to a great mattress for people with back pain.
The comfort system is made with three layers. The top layer is 1.5 inches of CopperFlex foam that has mild contouring and bounce. This layer includes the TitanCool phase change material (PCM) to help dissipate heat. The infusion of copper also fights heat buildup and may enhance circulation and bodily recuperation.
The second layer of the comfort system is two inches of TitanFlex latex-like polyfoam that adds notable bounce and additional contouring. The third component is 1 inch of gel-infused memory foam. This conforming material adds responsiveness and cushioning, and the gel swirl keeps this foam from excessive heat retention.
The support core is made with an eight-inch layer of individually-encased innerspring coils that keep the mattress stable, including around the edges. The coils rest on one inch of high-density polyfoam for extra sturdiness and insulation against noise.
For people with back pain, the combination of contouring, bounce, and stability makes the Aurora a compelling choice. In addition, it comes in three firmness levels — Soft (3-4), Medium (5-6), and Firm (7-8), so customers can pick the options that best fits their needs.
The Aurora comes with free delivery and a 120-night sleep trial. The trial has a 30-night break-in period during which you may not return the mattress. After the trial ends, the Aurora is backed by a 10-year warranty from Brooklyn Bedding, a company with a long track record in the mattress industry dating to the 1990s.
Why we like it:
- Available in Soft, Luxury Firm, and Firm comfort options
- Hybrid design achieves balance of contouring and resilience
- Industry-leading edge support
- WinkBed Plus model designed for people over 300 pounds
The WinkBed is a well-built hybrid mattress that can go a long way toward promoting proper spinal alignment and relief of back pain. The WinkBed delivers the responsiveness that can help with back pain by combining two different layers of innerspring coils with two layers of specialty foams.
The support core of the mattress is an innerspring layer that is 7.5 inches thick and made with pocketed coils. Stacked on top of these coils is another coil layer with 2.5 inches of highly responsive micro-coils. These layers give the mattress a backbone of reliable coils that ensure that you will have plenty of support and won’t “bottom out.” Because they are pocketed coils, they can help give support to your body in any sleeping position.
There are two foam layers above the coils in the WinkBed. The topmost layer is 1.5 inches thick and made of a specialty latex-like polyfoam. Underneath that is a 1.5-inch layer of gel-infused polyfoam. These materials give added contouring while maintaining their resilience and structural integrity. When combined with the coil-on-coil construction, these layers offer excellent comfort and support along with motion isolation.
The WinkBed is offered in three comfort levels: Soft (4.5), Luxury Firm (6.5), or Firm (7.5). The company’s WinkBed Plus is a fourth model that is tailored for sleepers who weigh more than 300 pounds and uses latex instead of the layer of micro-coils.
The mattresses from WinkBeds come with a 120-night sleep trial that provides considerable time to get a feel for how the mattress works for you. WinkBeds does require that you keep the mattress for 30 nights before making a return.
Why we like it:
- Innovative AirCell memory foam contours without heat retention
- Zoned design provides tailored cushioning
- Three firmness options to choose from
- Lifetime warranty
Winkbeds has already established itself as a maker of high-quality mattresses, and the MemoryLux, one of their newest models, further cements that reputation. This all-foam mattress employs an innovative new material to provide enhanced contouring without heat buildup.
The MemoryLux has a comfort system composed of three distinct layers. The top layer is two inches of gel-infused polyfoam. Underneath this layer is a new material invented by WinkBeds: AirCell memory foam. It is made up of microscopic air chambers inside the foam that allow it to compress and contour without retaining heat. Underneath the AirCell layer is zoned polyfoam.
Together, these layers work to offer well above-average contouring especially because the mattress utilizes a design to create seven zones of support, strategically giving more cushioning to areas like your shoulders and hips than to your ankles and feet. Soft (4), Medium (5.5), and Firm (7) comfort options let you pick the feel that works for you while knowing that any option delivers excellent cushioning and pressure relief to prevent back pain.
Another selling point of the MemoryLux is that it sleeps cooler than most all-foam beds. The breathable Tencel fabric in the cover, the AirCell foam, and the gel-infused polyfoam in the top layer all are built to permit airflow, resist heat retention, and keep you comfortable throughout the night.
Like the original WinkBed, the MemoryLux comes with a 120-night sleep trial to let you test out this new design for months before having to decide if you want to keep it long-term. If you do keep this mattress, you’re protected by a lifetime warranty in case any defects were to arise.
Why we like it:
- Excellent contouring for pressure-point relief
- Specialty foams improve resilience and resist heat buildup
- 365-night sleep trial and lifetime warranty
The Nectar mattress provides top-notch contouring that can help those with back pain get the extra cushioning right where they need it to promote proper spinal alignment.
The top layer is a quilted memory foam that is supported by a second, thicker layer of gel-infused memory foam. Combined, these four inches of foam deliver the kind of contouring that can make sure that the heaviest parts of the body get the most cushioning, keeping the body aligned. These memory foams are high-density for long-term durability, and they resist heat buildup and permit more ventilation than traditional memory foams.
Underneath the top two layers is Nectar’s specialty Adaptive Hi-Core memory foam that resists excessive sinking into the mattress and that also gives the bed added bounce and resilience.
The overall comfort feel of these layers is a medium-firm that equates to about a 6 on the typical firmness scale. This firmness level, when combined with contouring and resilience, tends to provide excellent outcomes for people who struggle with back pain.
The Nectar mattress comes with a 365-night sleep trial. This trial starts after a 30-day break-in period that begins when you receive the bed. With a full year to test the Nectar in your bedroom, you can confidently determine whether it’s the right fit to address your back pain. As an added bonus, the mattress comes with a lifetime warranty, letting you rest easy while trusting in the durability of your bed.
Best Mattress for Back Pain Buying Guide
What Causes Back Pain?
Back pain, specifically lower back pain, is extremely common. Studies have found that it the cause of more doctor visits than any other ailment in the United States except for colds and the flu.
Not all back pain is the same, and it is usually described as either acute or chronic. Acute back pain doesn’t last as long and usually happens suddenly and in response to a particular event like a twisting of the back. Chronic back pain is a long-term issue that isn’t tied directly to one recent incident.
Structural issues with the spine, such as spinal stenosis or herniated or degenerative discs, can be a cause of back pain. These issues may also make certain people predisposed to flare-ups of back pain. Back pain can be caused by more serious underlying medical issues. For this reason, you should talk to a health professional if you experience lasting, worsening, or debilitating back pain.
Having the right mattress can help, but going to your doctor is a necessary step to rule out more serious issues and putting you on the right track for pain relief. A doctor may also be able to refer you to physical therapy that can work in concert with your mattress to keep your back as pain-free as possible.
How Can a Mattress Affect Back Pain?
Just given the sheer amount of time that you spend in bed, the design and feel of your mattress plays a direct role in the condition of your back. If your spine is poorly aligned in bed, it can easily lead to aches and pains. In this section, we’ll analyze some of the specific ways your mattress affects back pain and some of the important considerations for mattress shopping as it relates to mitigating this pain.
Our bodies are not perfectly proportional, and when we lie down, some parts of the body may need more cushioning than others. These parts of the body are called pressure points. Every person’s pressure points can be slightly different, but for most people, the biggest ones are in the hips and shoulders. Between the hips and shoulders, of course, is the spine, and a mattress that offers robust support for these pressure points can help keep the spine in alignment. By supporting the natural curvature of the spine, a supportive mattress helps reduce stiffness and pain.
This is all about how the mattress feels, and firmness is usually described on a 1-10 scale with 10 being the most firm. Mattresses that are extremely firm or plush usually pose problems when it comes to back pain. On a very firm mattress, there is a lack of support for pressure points (as it would be if you were lying down on concrete). On a very soft mattress, there is too much give, and parts of the body can sink down, quickly causing the spine to become misaligned. Medium-firm mattresses (5-7 on the firmness scale) are the best for most people and for most sleeping positions.
A mattress that is giving out and sagging is not going to be able to offer the kind of support or comfort that you need. Because of this, it’s important to prioritize finding a mattress that will perform well over the entire course of the time that you’re hoping to use it. Mattresses built with high-end materials and high-density foams typically have a longer useful life.
Though not actually part of the mattress, your pillow nonetheless is an important thing to consider when thinking about preventing back pain in bed. In supporting your neck, the pillow plays a role in spinal alignment, and you want to make sure to use a pillow that complements your mattress. Other strategically-placed pillows may also be useful to help with providing support and cushioning depending on your sleeping position.
What Mattress Features Should You Look For?
In addition to looking closely at the mattress characteristics that directly influence the risk of back pain, you also want to keep an eye out for these other features when mattress shopping.
When you look at a mattress, you don’t actually see the most important part of it. No matter how nice a mattress looks or how nice it sounds when described by the manufacturer, what really matters is how well it is built. If you want durability and performance, you need materials that are solid enough to deliver.
When shopping, look for mattresses that have their full specifications posted for all to see online: it shouldn’t take extensive hunting to find these details. Then you’ll want to look closely at the mattress composition. If you notice any poorly-designed layers, be wary. All of the layers of a mattress work together, so one shoddy layer can be costly to the mattress as a whole.
Solid Comfort Layer
The comfort layer provides the most immediate source of support to the body’s pressure points. If this layer is too thin or made with cheap foam, there will be a much higher probability that you won’t get the support or durability that you need to combat back pain. Our advice is to look for combined comfort layers of 3” or more and when foam is used, a minimum foam density of 3.5 pounds per cubic foot (PCF) for those layers.
Bang for Your Buck
Regardless of how much you’re ready to spend on a mattress, you don’t want to be the person who overpays. Look for well-designed mattresses that are competitively priced relative to similar models on the market. Also make sure to be on the lookout for promotions and coupons that can bring down your out-of-pocket cost.
If you’re buying online, the industry norm is for shipping to be included in your purchase price. We recommend looking for a mattress that clearly offers free shipping so that you don’t get saddled with an unexpected extra cost.
No-Risk Sleep Trial
You may be worried about buying a mattress if you can’t first test it out in a store. Thankfully, most online mattress sellers provide a convenient alternative: the in-home sleep trial. During this trial, which is often around 3 months in length, you can return the mattress and get your full purchase price refunded if you find that the mattress doesn’t meet your needs.
Whenever possible, look for a sleep trial that gives you plenty of time to try the mattress, does not include any restocking or return shipping fees, and does not have any other notable restrictions.
Some trials require that you try the mattress for 30 nights before initiating a return. While this isn’t ideal, it is often a good idea to give yourself some time to adjust to a mattress before making a determination about whether it’s going to work for you over the long term.
Strong Review History
You can learn a great deal about a mattress from its customer reviews. However, you want to make sure that you look only at verified reviews, which are far more reliable and give a better sense of the true performance of the mattress.
Adjustable Frame Compatible
An adjustable frame is controlled by a remote and allows you to move the head or legs of the bed up or down. For some people who suffer from back problems, adjustable frames let them maintain more comfortable sleeping positions. Many types of mattresses can be used with these frames, but you may want to check this in advance if you plan to use this type of bed base.
What Types of Mattresses Are Available?
In these mattresses, several layers of foams are stacked on top of one another. The mattress maker can select foams of different thicknesses and with varying characteristics of firmness and responsiveness in order to create a particular feel for the mattress as a whole.
When the entire mattress is composed of latex, a type of rubber, we call it a latex mattress. This may also be called an “all-latex” or “true latex” mattress. Latex is a responsive material but also has more resilience or bounce than most foams.
A tried-and-true mattress design, these models use coils to form a base of support that usually provides a considerable amount of bounce. Innerspring mattresses also usually include a thin pillowtop or foam comfort layer to give extra cushioning.
A hybrid mattress has the same support core as an innerspring model (metal coils), but the comfort layer(s) are thicker. As a result, the hybrid involves a more balanced combination of materials including coils, foam, and/or latex.
Utilizing an inflatable air chamber to determine firmness, these mattresses provide a high-level of customization for each user. The amount of air can be adjusted using a remote or using a smartphone. In addition, there may be a thin comfort layer of foam or latex materials on top of the air chamber.