What Is The Best Mattress For My Back?

Almost 80% of the Australian population suffer from back pain at some point in their lives

As we spend on average about one third of our lives in bed, it makes sense that one of the major causes of back pain is sleeping on the wrong mattress!

There is no set manual for selecting the perfect mattress to give you that peaceful nights sleep. There is no perfect firmness level and a great mattress is usually not dependent on its price tag. It is important that whatever mattress you choose, it is comfortable and provides proper support, keeping your spine in neutral [1].

A neutral spine is optimal when all natural curves are supported and general pressure on the spine is minimised.

With such a wide variety of mattresses on the market, it’s often confusing when trying to decide which is best. The following list briefly describes the main types available. [1-3]


This is the most common type of mattress, consisting of an internal spring system and an outer layer of padding. The spring system determines the level of support and the padding determines the comfort of the mattress.


Latex mattresses offer great support and cushioning. These mattresses are also low allergenic and tend to last longer than inner spring mattresses.

Memory foam 

This is becoming a very popular mattress type. It is made of a heat and weight sensitive foam which moulds to your body. This gives even support and relieves pressure when needed.

Pillow top 

This type of mattress has a soft pillow layer on the top of the mattress. It is important to make sure you purchase a mattress with a good quality pillow top. Poorer quality materials may compress more easily, reducing comfort and support.

When choosing your new mattress, it is important to consider the following:

  • Personal preference is key. The best mattress is the one that you are most comfortable on. This should be a mattress, which balances your comfort equally with supporting your spine [1]. A recent study has found that medium-firm mattresses are most popular [5].
  • Support. A good mattress will properly support your body and will keep your spine in neutral. It will also allow you to easily roll from one side to the other [3].
  • Know when to change your mattress. There is no set time frame to change your mattress, however when the mattress begins to sag or becomes uncomfortable then it’s probably time for a new one [1].
  • To prolong the life of your mattress, you should reposition or ‘flip’ it every 6 months [1].


  1. J. Talbot Sellers, D.O. [2004] Choosing the best mattress for lower back pain. Retrieved from www.spine-health.com
  2. Mattress Reports: The Mattress Buying Guide [2012]. Retrieved from www. HYPERLINK “http://mattressreports.com”mattressreports.com
  3. Sutherland Shire Physiotherapy Centre [2012]. Retrieved from  HYPERLINK “http://shirephysiotherapy.com.au/newmattresses”shirephysiotherapy.com.au/newmattresses
  4. Medical Journal Australia [2009]. Retrieved from  HYPERLINK “https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2009/190/9/back-pain-national-health-priority-area-australia”https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2009/190/9/back-pain-national-health-priority-area-australia
  5. Walker, F. Good news for bad backs Sun Herald [2005]. Retrieved from http://www.smh.com.au/news/Health/Good-news-for-bad-backs/2005/04/02/1112302291076.html
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