What mattress do I buy?

SOFT? MEDIUM? FIRM? How do you decide?

Yes! Before we get started, this is a very personal preference and if you’re changing your mattress because of lower back pain, unfortunately, this is likely NOT GOING TO BE THE SOLUTION TO ALL OF YOUR PROBLEMS and it is probably NOT THE CAUSE OF YOUR PAIN. However, that said, it may have an influence and improve how you feel as you get up in the mornings.

Back in the day, a hard mattress was prescribed for back pain. But why? And how have times changed?

The majority of people used to work in manual jobs. These involved lifting, carrying, digging and BENDING! Nowadays, most jobs are sedentary. Many people spend their days relatively static and often seated at a desk.

How does that change anything?

So, when peoples occupations were predominantly manual jobs, it lead to significant flexion in the lower back (bending forwards). The body becomes sensitive to positions it spends the most time in. For these workers, lower back pain often occurs in this bending forward position and we need to encourage greater extension to reduce this pain. The opposite is true for our office workers. Being seated for long periods can lead to greater extension in the lumbar spine. Now this may not necessarily be due to the seated position, but the prolonged durations seated cause tension at the anterior hip, pulling at the front of the pelvis and forcing the lower back to curve inwards (Lordosis). If our lumbar spine becomes lordotic, it become sensitive to going further into extension (leaning backwards).

What has this got to do with my mattress?

A hard mattress will likely force the body to straighten up, removing a person from a flexed position. For a manual worker, the 6, 7, 8 plus hours (if you’re lucky) of lying in and extended position may negate some of the effects of an 8 hour working day of lumbar flexion. Vice Versa for our office workers! Sensitive to extension? Maybe a soft mattress is best. It will encourage the lower back to curve and encourage flexion for the time you’re asleep.

This is by no means and exact science and as mentioned earlier it may not fix the problem, but it could improve the way you move. NO this doesn’t mean you need to get in bed on the correct mattress and stay there.

To alleviate back pain, have the cause assessed. Is it weakness, poor mobility, stability or just a case of altering some habits? Get it checked out then we can do something about it but if you’re looking for a new mattress, maybe this could help you.

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