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Is a Firm Mattress Better for Your Back?

April 13, 2021  ·  7 min read

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Is a firm mattress better for your back? This is a question we hear often from a lot of sleepers who struggle with back pain. The short answer: it depends on your personal needs and there is a difference between a firm feel and a supportive mattress. In general, individuals who struggle with back pain after getting out of bed are suffering because their spine isn’t getting enough support from their mattress. 

Factors such as your preferred sleeping position, weight, and feel preference all contribute to the type of mattress you need. For example, depending on your weight and sleeping position, a firmer mattress might do a great job of distributing your weight evenly across the mattress OR it might create discomfort for the neck, shoulders, and pelvic, which can lead to lower back pain.

In short, sleeping on a hard bed doesn’t necessarily equate to support. But don’t worry. Texas Mattress Makers is here to help you find a mattress that will provide optimal support and comfort for your personal sleep needs.

Firm vs. supportive 

Before we dive into the best mattresses for alleviating back pain, we first need to discuss the difference between a firm mattress and a supportive mattress. A supportive mattress promotes proper spinal alignment and helps keep your spinal curves in a neutral position; it doesn’t “flatten” these curves, exacerbate them, or add additional curvatures. 

Firmness applies to the feel and comfort of the mattress along with terms like softness, plushness, etc. The feel of a mattress, a firm vs. a soft mattress, is a personal preference. 

With that being said, not all firm-feeling mattresses are going to be supportive for every sleeper. If your mattress is too soft (as in unsupportive) or too firm (as in overly supportive) then you may not be getting the correct support you need for your back pain. In fact, an overly supportive mattress may keep your bed from forming natural mattress body impressions which help create the perfect support for your spine. Meanwhile, sleeping on a low-quality mattress with less support can increase the risk of back pain.

How to tell if your bed is causing back pain 

According to Spine-Health, there are correlations between getting a good night’s sleep and alleviating back pain. For example, if you’re not sleeping well, your body cannot produce the correct hormones needed to heal your body as you sleep, thus alleviating pain. Here are some telltale signs that your bed may be the culprit:

Your pain is worse when you wake up

If you wake up every morning with aches and pains in your back, it could mean that your mattress is not giving you the support you need. A good, supportive mattress will support your spine, allowing your muscles to relax and decompress as you sleep. But, a bad mattress will deny your spine the support it needs, meaning your muscles will have to work harder to support your spine throughout the night. When you wake up, you’ll be left with aching muscles and lower back pain. 

You can’t seem to get comfortable throughout the night

Some sleepers find it difficult to find a comfortable sleeping position when experiencing back pain. Similar to our point above, if your mattress isn’t supporting your spine, your body can’t relax. Your tossing and turning may be linked to your mattress not having the proper support.

You get your best night’s sleep on vacations

You may be getting better rest on your vacation because you are simply more relaxed. But if you’re waking up without pain or with less pain while sleeping on a hotel mattress or a mattress in a guest bedroom, that’s a pretty good indicator that your mattress is at least partially to blame for your back pain. 

You have pre-existing conditions 

In the doctor’s office, the answer to the question, “Is a firm mattress better for your back” used to always be yes. Doctors used to recommend that patients with chronic pain sleep on a firmer mattress. However, studies have shown that people with low back pain who slept on hard beds had the poorest sleep quality. Firm mattresses are not recommended if you have more severe back conditions including scoliosis and arthritis. 

What type of mattress is best for back pain? 

As mentioned earlier, no one mattress will alleviate back pain for everyone. What may be comfortable for a few nights can’t guarantee a lifetime of good sleep. Any mattress, so long as it comes with the appropriate corresponding level of support for your needs, will help alleviate pain and improve sleep quality over time. 

The following recommendations may help you find the perfect mattress, but if you have any questions, we highly recommend visiting our showrooms and speaking to a mattress specialist. There are simply so many factors to consider when choosing a mattress and our staff has years of experience helping customers find the right mattress for their precise needs. 


If you carry weight, sleep on your back, or sleep on your stomach, a firm mattress may help alleviate lower back pain by distributing your body weight more evenly across the mattress. This way, your back isn’t curving as much while you sleep. We recommend the Manchester Gel Memory Foam mattress or the Madrid Firm Select mattress –– both emphasize support and comfort for a pain-free sleeping experience.

Soft to Medium :

A soft-feeling mattress is recommended as the best mattress for side sleepers because it provides an extra cushion for your hips and shoulders and keeps your spine in a neutral position. A medium-firm mattress is the best mattress for stomach sleepers since it will help keep your hips elevated, preventing aches and pains in your back. 

Again the exact type of mattress will depend on your body type, but our general recommendation for a soft-feeling mattress would be the Bel Air Graphite Euro Top Deluxe Mattress which features a pocketed coil system and Euro top layer for cloud-like comfort and healthy support. Our general recommendation for medium mattresses is the Noah Allen Plush which combines gel-infused memory foam and a pocketed coil support system to keep your body neutral as you sleep.

Find Your Perfect, Supportive Mattress with Texas Mattress Makers.

So, is a firm mattress better for your back? Not necessarily. Like we’ve said before, it all depends on you. Every sleeper has a unique set of needs and personal preferences that can be catered to with the right mattress. You can easily find a supportive mattress but still have it feel the way you want it (for example, soft) if you have the right components in the support layer.  We recommend that you visit our showroom so that we can test out different mattress types and comfort levels so that you leave with the most supportive mattress possible. If you cannot come to one of our five showrooms, then you can also chat with our experts on our website.

Texas Mattress Makers offers quality mattresses handmade right here in the state of Texas. Unlike other manufacturers, our passion lies in helping you find the perfect mattress that will last you a lifetime, not just a few years. 

You can shop by either comfort level, mattress type, mattress size, or budget, or come and visit any of our convenient Houston locations today!

More Beducation by Texas Mattress Makers:

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