There are so many causes of back pain that it can be difficult to pinpoint the exact source of the discomfort without an opinion from your physician. But if you're shaking off a stiff or achy back each morning, a good place to start identifying the issue is with your mattress. Although the lifespan of the typical mattress is about seven to 10 years, it's not unusual for people to sleep on their aging mattress for more than a decade.
Why is this a problem? As the years go by, the crucial support your mattress once provided begins to wane. If your mattress is not adequately supporting your spine, it can potentially lead to back pain, or further complicate existing issues. If you frequently toss and turn or wake up with temporary back pain that appears to go away after about 15 to 30 minutes, your mattress is likely the culprit.
Whether you're suffering from back discomfort, or you simply believe your mattress has outlasted its usefulness, it's important to conduct research before making your next selection. You'll want one built with supportive materials, such as Talalay latex, creates cooler, hypoallergenic, and more durable mattresses. If back pain is indeed a problem, consider a medium-firm mattress, which will ensure your back, spine, and neck rest in the natural alignment to eliminate such discomfort.
A study examining the effect of mattress firmness on chronic, non-specific, low-back pain involving 313 patients found that those who slept on a medium-firm mattress reported less pain, and less pain-related disability, compared to those who slept on a firm mattress.
While purchasing a new mattress is a step in the right direction and may help to alleviate some discomfort, it may not heal all your back pain. Oftentimes, people need daily "maintenance" to eliminate their back pain.
In addition to trying a new mattress, here are several things you can try to incorporate into your daily life that may help alleviate stubborn back issues:
Visit a Chiropractor Regularly.
Make regular appointments to see a chiropractor. He or she can pinpoint your pain areas and will know how to manually adjust your back so your pain lessens.
See a Physical Therapist.
A physical therapist can teach you how to properly sit, stand, and move, so that your spine stays in proper alignment, which can alleviate strain on your back. They can also teach you exercises to strengthen the core muscles supporting your back.
Improve Your Posture.
Poor posture can make your back pain even worse, especially if you have a desk job, or drive for long hours. Instead of having your shoulders slumped, sit upright, keep your shoulders relaxed, and ensure your body is supported against the back of your chair.
Although exercise is probably the last thing you want to do when you're in pain, it can be helpful. In a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, researchers found evidence that moderate exercise can help reduce back pain. Among the benefits of exercising: a strengthened back and core—all those muscles, including your abdomen, which help support your back—can help prevent future back pain. Try jogging, yoga, or swimming.
You can also try:
- Stretching routines, including these six stretches to help your back pain.
- Applying ice and heat to reduce pain and inflammation.
- Weekly massages.
When it comes to your health, purchasing a new mattress may not resolve back pain or other related issues entirely, but it can help reduce some of the discomfort you're experiencing. Trying a new mattress built to help with back pain, paired with some of the suggestions above, can help you maintain better back health. If your back pain does not improve, you should visit your doctor.