Back Pain & Choosing a Bed (A-Z of Injuries & Conditions: B)

By Janet Bell, Osteopath

Do you wake up in the morning with back pain?

‘Back pain’ is the obvious choice for ‘B’ in our series – The A-Z of Injuries and Conditions.  However, B is also for ‘Bed’ and we are often asked by patients for advice on choosing beds and mattresses to help manage their back pain.  So, here are our top tips for choosing a bed:

  • The mattress should be supportive enough to take the weight of the body without sagging. If you are used to a soft bed, don’t suddenly change to a very hard bad; the difference may prove difficult to adapt to. However, the mattress does need to be firm enough to allow for changes of posture during the night. This is necessary to lessen fatigue and relieve the prolonged stress on soft tissues – it is not easy turning on a really ‘giving’ surface.
  •  The mattress needs to be comfortable to lie on and soft enough, with sufficient ‘give’, to support and cushion the body’s bony curves (for example like that provided by a ‘pocket sprung’ mattress). Don’t be embarrassed to lie on the bed for 20 minutes or so in the shop – it’s not as long as you’ll spend on it each night!
  • A good heavy mattress will need a strong base. It is best to buy the base and mattress together, but if you buy these items separately do seek advice that they will make a suitable combination.
  •  If you and your partner are of different weights consider a zip and link bed.
  • Your pillow is as important as the mattress. It needs to support and cushion the neck. Too high or low, and your neck will not be in a neutral position. We will be covering this in more detail in a future blog.
  • Remember there is no absolute best choice of bed. It is what is right for you as an individual. Also remember that the word ‘orthopaedic’ is really meaningless, though it generally implies ‘firm’.

Do ask your osteopath if you need more advice on back pain and choosing a bed!





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