Medium firm mattresses are better than harder ones if you have lower back pain,
For decades, many people have believed the notion that a hard mattress is better for low back pain, in spite of a lack of supporting scientific evidence. Chiropractors have commonly recommended a more "medium" approach to mattress firmness. Now, that approach is vindicated by a new study debunking the idea that firm mattresses are beneficial for low-back pain.
The November issue of the prestigious medical journal The Lancet published the new study, which found that people who slept on mattresses of medium firmness were twice as likely to report improvement in low-back pain symptoms than those who slept on firm mattresses. The researchers studied 313 adults with chronic lower back pain and found that the subjects who slept on medium firm mattresses experienced significantly less back while in bed and on arising and significantly less disability from back pain during the day.
George McClelland, DC, chairman of the board of the American Chiropractic Association (ACA) recommends the following tips for choosing mattresses:
- If you're not in the market for a new mattress, and your current mattress is too firm, you can soften it up by putting a 1- to 2-inch-thick padding on top of it - usually available at mattress and bedding stores.
- A mattress should provide uniform support from head to toe. If there are gaps between your body and your mattress (such as at the waist), you're not getting the full support that you need.
- Every few months, turn your mattress clockwise, or upside down, so that body indentations are kept to a minimum. It's also good to rotate the mattress frame every so often to reduce wear and tear.
- If you're waking up uncomfortable, it might be time for a new mattress. There is no standard life span for a mattress; it all depends on the kind of usage it gets.
- Be aware that changes in your life can signal the need for a new mattress. For example, if you've lost or gained a lot of weight, if a medical condition has changed the way you sleep, or even if you have changed partners, it could mean that it's time to find a new mattress that will accommodate those changes and help you sleep more soundly.