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Air mattress or a gel momory foam mattress for back pain? 09 Dec 2016 11:00 #1

Hello James:

I've disabled your account, as creating a profile and linking back to other review sites like yours is against the rules of the forum . However, your question, although intended only to capitalize upon the popularity of this site and build SEO for your own, actually allows me to address the common question of if there is "a mattress that's best for back pain."

I'm interested if any members here can chime in on the dilemma of choosing the right mattress for back pain.


There is no one firmness level or style of mattress that is "best for backs" in general because it would depend on the body type, sleeping style, and individual preferences of the person. While the most common cause of lower back pain is a mattress that is too soft ... it can also be caused by a mattress that is too firm and doesn’t provide enough “surface support”.

Each person has unique needs and preferences in a mattress so a mattress that would be a "perfect" choice for one person in terms of comfort, firmness, and PPP may be completely unsuitable for someone else to sleep on that has a different body type, sleeping style, or preferences and sensitivities so I certainly wouldn't suggest that anyone purchase (or avoid) a mattress based on anyone else's experience when they sleep on it. The only “first-hand experience” that matters is yours when you try out a product for yourself.

A mattress certainly needs to have deeper layers that are "firm enough" to stop the heavier parts of your body from sinking down too far and make sure you sleep with your spine and joints in good alignment and upper layers that are thick and soft enough to "allow" any pressure points such as the hips and shoulders to sink down far enough to relieve pressure points in all your sleeping positions as well but "firm enough" and "soft enough" can vary widely from person to person. If you’re interested, there is more about primary or "deep" support and secondary or "surface" support and their relationship to firmness and pressure relief and the "roles" of different layers in a mattress in post #2 here and in post #4 here that may also be helpful in clarifying the difference between "support" and "pressure relief" and "feel".

These posts are the "tools" that can help with the analysis, detective work, or trial and error that may be necessary to help you learn your body's language and "translate" what your body is trying to tell you so you can identify the types of changes that have the best chance of reducing or eliminating any "symptoms" you are experiencing (at least to the degree that any symptoms are from your mattress rather than the result of any other circumstances or pre-existing issues you may have that aren't connected to a mattress).

While it's not possible to "diagnose" mattress comfort issues on a forum with any certainty because they can be very complex and there are too many unique unknowns, variables, and complexities involved that can affect how each person sleeps on a mattress in terms of "comfort", firmness, and PPP or any "symptoms" they experience ... there is more about the most common back pain symptoms that people may experience when they sleep on a mattress and the most likely (although not the only) reasons for them in post #2 here .

The best way I can assist with “how” to choose is to suggest you start your research with the mattress shopping tutorial here which includes all the basic information, steps, and guidelines that can help you make the best possible choice ... and perhaps more importantly know how and why to avoid the worst ones.

Two of the most important links in the tutorial that I would especially make sure you've read are post #2 here which has more about the different ways to choose a suitable mattress (either locally or online) that is the best "match" for you in terms of "comfort", firmness, and PPP that can help you assess and minimize the risks of making a choice that doesn't turn out as well as you hoped for and post #13 here which has more about the most important parts of the "value" of a mattress purchase which can help you make more meaningful quality/value comparisons between mattresses in terms of suitability (how well he will sleep), durability (how long he will sleep well), and the overall value of a mattress compared to your other finalists based on all the parts of your personal value equation that are most important to you (including the price of course and the options you have available after a purchase if your choice doesn't turn out as well as you hoped for).

While again nobody can speak to how any specific mattress will "feel" for someone else or whether it will be a good "match" for a “bad back” in terms of comfort, firmness, and PPP because this is too subjective and relative to different body types, sleeping positions, and individual preferences, sensitivities, and circumstances and you are the only one that can feel what you feel on a mattress ... outside of PPP (which is the most important part of "value"), the next most important part of the value of a mattress purchase is durability which is all about how long you will sleep well on a mattress. This is the part of your research that you can't see or "feel" and assessing the durability and useful life of a mattress depends on knowing the specifics of its construction and the type and quality of the materials inside it regardless of the name of the manufacturer on the label or how a mattress feels in a showroom or when it is relatively new so I would always make sure that you find out the information listed here so you can compare the quality of the materials and components to the durability guidelines here to make sure there are no lower quality materials or weak links in a mattress that would be a cause for concern relative to the durability and useful life of a mattress before making any purchase.

Regarding the title in your post, you can see some of my general comments about air mattresses here and in this article . While any mattress can be a good match for a specific person because each person's needs and preferences or the criteria that are most important to them can be very different ... in general terms I would tend to avoid them unless there is a very compelling reason that an airbed would be a better choice in "real life" (outside of the many "marketing stories" that you will hear about them) than the many other options or types of mattresses that are available to you.

Phoenix
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