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Finding the Right Mattress for your Neck, Hip, or Back Pain

We all wonder if our mattress could be causing our pain and it’s a legitimate question seeing as how we spend ~¼ of our lives on them, give our take. I will start by saying, you get what you pay for. Expect a mattress under ~$1000 to last you only a few years, maybe up to 8 if it’s decent quality. Your mattress is worth the investment, for sure! The problem is, there is not a one size fits all mattress, but I can tell you that there are certain types for certain body types that at least help guide you in making your decision.

I learned over the years that you want to go to the store and try your mattress out. Lay on it in your preferred position, back, side, belly and stay there for a prolonged period, like 15+ minutes to allow your body to see what it feels like when you’re stationary. It is also very common for you and your partner to feel comfortable on different mattresses.

How Your Body Type Determines the Mattress Type

There are typically three types of mattresses: plush, medium, and firm. When you spend your time trying out mattresses, make sure you assess how your body feels on the different types. Most mattresses you will immediately know which type you are laying on; however, some of the medium can feel similar to a plush sometimes, so make sure you try them all.

If you are more curvy, have more of a butt, and/or have more of a curve in your low back you will tend to like more medium to plush types of mattresses. If you are more straight, long and lanky, have no butt or little curve in your low back, you may lean more towards the firm side.

Think about it this way. If we have more curves to our body then we want our mattress to support them by giving where we are wider and providing support where we are more narrow. The same goes for someone that has less curves. A more firm mattress will provide them support because it won’t give as much to support their body.

How to Decide on the Right Mattress for me and my Spouse

When there are two people involved the decision making becomes more difficult, as you could imagine. But have no fear, there are typically compromises where you can settle and both be comfortable.

The first option is to look mostly at those mediums, all the styles of mattresses in the middle; not firm and not plush. Most of the time it works to just find a middle ground; however, when this doesn’t work you’ll need to try something different.

The second option is to look for beds that have differing sides; one side is plush while the other is firm. You may pay a little more for this type, but it will be well worth the money when you are both sleeping peacefully.

The 3rd option is to sleep in different beds/rooms! I’m sort of joking here, but in all actuality sometimes it is the only option so that both partners get the rest they need. You can still have time together in one bed or a couch, etc, but look for comfort in your own mattress fit to your needs when it comes time to sleep.

What About the Right Pillow??

Our pillow can absolutely play a part in our pain, especially neck and upper back pain. Once again, there is no one size fits all pillow. You really need to just try them. I do suggest, however, looking for a pillow that is made for your favorite position to sleep: side sleeper or back sleeper.

Take a look when you lay down and see if your pillow fits into the crease of your neck and allows your head to fully relax without tipping your head towards the bed or the ceiling. If you’re a side sleeper, your pillow should allow your neck to relatively stay in line with your spine. If you’re a back sleeper, look for a pillow that fits comfortably behind your head and lays along the top of your shoulders while keeping your head in line with your spine.

The last and most important part is once you get your pillow situated to keep your head in line with your spine, make sure you fully relax all your muscles. Start with your head, eyes, neck, shoulders, and work your way down to start out your sleep in a relaxed position. It is common to wake up tense again, but just correct the position and try again to give your body a chance at correct posture and relaxation.

The Right Mattress is NOT the Solution to all your Problems

Finding a good fitting mattress to your body type is definitely helpful to getting good rest and waking up feeling refreshed and not stiff and sore. However, keep in mind that there is often more that is playing a part in your pain. For example, what you do or don’t do during the day can lead to a sore back or neck and then laying still all night long makes it 10x worse when we get up in the morning.

That being said, if you are having pain when you sleep or when you wake up then you need to reach out to a physical therapist so that they can assess what you have going on to get you in a better place for good rest. You can always start with a free phone consultation to discuss what you have going on and see if physical therapy is the best option for you. Here’s the link:

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