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Can a mattress help with back pain?

The Joint’s Dr. Kevin Lees, D.C. provides insights on the impact of your mattress for healthy spinal alignment in a recent article from Homes and Gardens.

Original article published by Home & Gardens on May 12, 2023 on


Waking up with back pain is no way to start your day, and your mattress could be to blame. While you should always talk to your doctor about back pain, as it can be caused by several problems, they might find that your mattress is aggravating a condition caused by something else.

I've consulted an expert who says that having the wrong bed for your weight and sleep position could be impacting your back pain. When sleeping, your spine should stay in a natural position.

The best mattress for you will support your body as you sleep, helping to reduce pressure on your joints and allow your muscles to relax. Find out below how the right mattress can help with back pain.

Can A Mattress Help With Back Pain?

Reducing the amount of pressure on your back when you lie in bed is all about your sleep position and body size. Consider whether you sleep on your front, back, or side – or perhaps a combination. You should also take into account your weight of you (and your partner).

Your back pain could be caused by a bad mattress. As Dr. Kevin Lees, director of Chiropractic Operations at The Joint Chiropractic explains, the key to comfier sleep is ensuring your spine stays aligned all night. These are the two things to think about when assessing your mattress situation to ensure healthy spinal alignment.

1. Sleep position

Back sleepers with back pain are likely sleeping on a mattress that is too soft. A soft bed will not support your body enough, allowing your torso or pelvis to sink. Instead, a 'firmer mattress will provide enough surface area to stay in contact with your entire body'. he says.

Side sleepers are likely to 'develop pressure points on their shoulders and hips as they're sleeping on a smaller surface area', explains Lees. If you're sleeping on a mattress that's too firm it could cause joint pain, too soft and your knees may overlap and your back could sink into an unnatural curve.

2. Weight

Not having the right bed for your weight may also be aggravating your back pain. 'A petite person sleeping on a firm mattress may experience zero support, whereas a softer mattress will cushion and cradle them without too much sink.' advises Lees. A plus-size person will need a firmer mattress to hold their body in place. A larger individual sleeping on a soft mattress is likely to feel as if they're lying in the mattress, rather than on top of it.

Note: there are best mattresses designed especially for heavier people, like the Big Fig mattress which is at the top of our list to review.

Our editor-in-chief Lucy Searle agrees, too. 'I've suffered from back pain since I was a teen when I had a bad riding accident," she says. 'I particularly suffer at night, and if I don't have the right mattress, not only don't sleep well, but wake up off and on through the night with back, neck, shoulder and hip pain.'

This changed when she started to consider her sleep hygiene. 'The key for me was realising that my sleep position was intricately linked to the mattress firmness I needed,' she continues. 'I'd spent years suffering on a hard mattress because I'd been told that was good for back pain; then swapped to a soft mattress, which was no better.

'Finally, I saw a physiotherapist who asked me about the position I slept in (on my side), the pillow depth I slept with (varying), and the mattress firmness I preferred. She suggested I tried a hybrid mattress that provided support but also a foam top element which was forgiving on my hips and shoulders. Paired with a deep pillow, the combination was transformative and my back has been so much better ever since.'


Can a mattress help with back pain? Absolutely. It's all about firmness. Having considered the three factors above, choosing a firm, medium-firm or soft mattress may make all the difference when it sleeping comfortably. These are the best mattresses to choose from by firmness, so you won't have to worry about waking up in pain.


Saatva Classic: $995 at

The Saatva Classic mattress is number one in our best firm mattress guide. It's a hybrid with a luxury firm sleep surface to suit back sleepers and bigger individuals.


Nectar Mattress: $399 at Nectar Sleep

The Nectar is a medium-firm mattress proven to tackle back pain. The balance between firmness and support works to cushion joints and hold the spine in place when sleeping on your side.


Siena Mattress: $199 at Siena

The Siena mattress is a great soft memory foam option. It's described as a 6.5 on the firmness scale, but customers, and our reviewer, note it to feel much softer than most medium mattresses on the market.


It depends. Again you should think about your sleep style and weight because this will determine whether a firm or soft mattress will help with your back ache. Against the common belief that firm mattresses are better for your back, sleeping on a mattress that is too firm or soft for your size and style could result in further pain when it is unable to offer enough support or cushion.


The best way to sleep is however you feel best comfortable, and this should work with the firmness rating of your mattress. That being said if you're suffering from back pain and you sleep on your stomach or back, it is worth trying to sleep on your side. Described as the 'ultimate sleep position' by experts, keeping the knees bent and sitting on top of each other helps keep the body in balance – supporting the lumber spine and reducing pressure on joints. Sleeping with a pillow in between your legs can also help relieve any pain if you find your knees to fall and overlap during the night.

If investing in the best mattress for you isn't in your budget, or your current mattress is still in good condition, don't worry. A mattress topper is a great way to alter the firmness of your mattress, so you can experience pain-free sleep without having to buy a brand-new bed.

About The Joint Chiropractic

The Joint Corp. revolutionized access to chiropractic care when it introduced its retail health care business model in 2010. Today, it is the nation’s largest operator, manager and franchisor of chiropractic clinics through The Joint Chiropractic network. The company is making quality care convenient and affordable, while eliminating the need for insurance, for millions of patients seeking pain relief and ongoing wellness. With 800+ locations nationwide and nearly 11 million patient visits annually, The Joint Chiropractic is a key leader in the chiropractic industry. Ranked number one on Forbes’ 2022 America’s Best Small Companies list, number three on Fortune’s 100 Fastest-Growing Companies list and consistently named to Franchise Times “Top 400+ Franchises” and Entrepreneur’s “Franchise 500®” lists, The Joint Chiropractic is an innovative force, where healthcare meets retail. For more information, visit

Business Structure

The Joint Corp. is a franchisor of clinics and an operator of clinics in certain states. In Arkansas, California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming, The Joint Corp. and its franchisees provide management services to affiliated professional chiropractic practices.

Media Contacts

The Joint Corp.
Margie Wojciechowski
[email protected]
Office: (480) 245-5960 x 210

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