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Published: September 11, 2023

Is my mattress causing my back pain?

Beds get blamed for things they don't deserve

Does your back hurt in the morning? Putting on pants and socks difficult and painful?

Or maybe pain wakes you up when you roll over in bed during the night.

If so, you may be suspicious that your bed is causing your back pain.

"Maybe my mattress is too old, or I'm sleeping in a weird position."

But here's the thing: because we're just laying there all night in bed, mostly not moving, it's virtually impossible to injure yourself.

You may have a ton of pain, but you can rest assured that it's not your bed's fault.

Why we have pain at night or in the morning

Of course there are many things that can cause pain. And if you're unsure about your health status, it's important to get checked out by your doctor -- just to make sure there's nothing scary causing YOUR pain.

But you can rest assured that the "scary" potential causes for back or spine pain are quite rare.

And for the huge majority of back, neck or shoulder pain, there may be zero actual damage inside you. Meaning, nothing's torn, ruptured, fractured or dislocated.

You just hurt.

And as to why it's so common to hurt when laying down or waking up, here's why I think that happens.

If your back, shoulder or neck are already "unhappy", literally ANY activity can make your pain spike. I call these "triggers" for pain.

Pain "triggers" aren't the actual cause of your back pain, but they are activities or body positions that aggravate the pain you may already have.

For example, common triggers for low back pain include getting up/down from a chair, rolling over in bed, getting in/out of a car, bending forward at the waist...there are more. None of these things are dangerous, but they're famous for triggering pain.

If you've noticed that any of these activities hurt when you do them, it may simply mean that your back is "unhappy", and complaining in the form of pain while you do these things.

The best bed for spine health

There's a simple answer to this one.

The best bed for YOU is the one you sleep best in.

The one that feels best, is best.

Now if you're wondering why the bed that always felt great to sleep in, suddenly now hurts when you're laying down, it's often because you have something else causing your pain, and until we resolve it, ALL movements may hurt.

So addressing the underlying cause for your pain is the likely solution -- NOT going out and buying a new mattress.

If we can resolve the actual cause for your pain in the first place, very often the same mattress you've been using suddenly becomes comfortable to sleep in again.

But wait, you may ask -- should it be a firm mattress? Soft? Medium? How about pillow-top, or memory foam? Do any of these matter?


As long as you're able to:

  • Sleep through the night, and not be awakened by pain
  • Wake up without feeling worse than when you went to bed

You've got the right mattress. No matter what firmness or density it has.

When it comes to sleep, comfort is king! What feels best, is best.

What to do if you hurt at night or in the mornings

Job #1 is to find out why you're actually hurting in the first place.

Getting checked out by me or another qualified healthcare provider is often the best first step.

Then, once we know what's causing your pain, we can address it with the right therapies or lifestyle modifications, so that sleep becomes restful and comfortable again.

Typically we can figure these things out quickly, which is nice.

If you're having trouble sleeping due to pain, or having lots of pain in the mornings, that gets old pretty quickly.

If you're in the Austin area, give us a call. I'd love to help you get back to feeling great again!