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Are Waterbeds Good for Your Back?

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Written by: Alex Savy
Read 7 minLast updated on August 4, 2022

It is a popular conception that waterbeds are good for your back. But how valid is this claim? Waterbeds were a reasonable deviation from the famous spring mattresses that were in vogue in the 1960s. And the main reason they got popular was to offer optimal back support and comfort. 

With waterbeds gaining more popularity recently, more people are considering purchasing one, especially as a remedy for back pain during sleep. Hence, the need to shed more light on whether or not a waterbed is good for your back. This article is an exposé on waterbeds' benefits for back health and pain correction. Have a great read!

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Benefits of waterbeds for the back

Certainly, waterbeds are beneficial for the back as they offer unique back cradling for the pressure points, muscle tension relief, and warmth, which is different from what traditional foam mattresses have. But more specifically, you should understand how waterbeds work and how the features soothe the back. 

We have highlighted the most visible ways in which a waterbed can improve your back health here:

  • Alleviates back pain

Waterbeds are good for your back because they provide a plush sleeping surface that allows the body to sleep in (and not just on) the mattress. This sinking effect soothes the back and relieves back pain. Waterbeds also have a heating feature that promotes oxygenated blood flow in the spine, reducing back pain. 

To learn more about the best mattress features that can deliver a good night's rest even with aches in the back, check our piece on how to sleep with back pain.

  • Relieves muscle tension

A waterbed's warmth helps ease back tension and soothes sore back muscles, a recipe for a comfortable night's sleep. When muscle tension is reduced in the back, it’s easier for sleepers to loosen up and fall asleep more quickly (1).

  • Cradles pressure points

Proper cradling and contouring of the body's pressure points is another unique feature of waterbeds. So, part of what makes a waterbed good for your back is that it helps distribute your body pressure more uniformly throughout the mattress when you lie on it. This way, you will experience less stress in pressure points in your back. In addition, this cradling effect is very soothing and can increase one's sleep quality.

  • Reduces pressure sores

Unrelieved pressure on the body’s bony prominences, where the bone is closer to the skin, can lead to pressure ulcers, also termed pressure sores (2). Pressure sores often make treatments requiring lengthy periods of bed rest more challenging to manage. Because a waterbed creates a feeling of weightlessness and relieves strain on the skin, it is an excellent choice in the fight against bedsores.

How to find the best waterbed to ease back pain

Finding the best waterbed to ease back pain requires knowledge and facts on how waterbeds work. To understand which waterbeds are good for your back, you must consider the construction and material used in making the bed, the type of waterbed, and your sleeping style. 

Understanding the features that make a waterbed ease back pain is essential to a satisfying purchase. So, let’s consider the factors to consider before you buy that waterbed:

Construction and material

Generally, a waterbed is made of a solid hardwood bed frame supporting either one or two water mattresses, depending on personal taste. It also has a vinyl exterior surrounded by water and tubes for filling the mattress.

However, the specific features of a waterbed that relieves back pain include:

  • A layer of comfort foam;
  • Water warming mechanism; and
  • Internal support structure.

These components support the sleeper’s full body contour irrespective of weight, making it a comfortable option for easing back pain.

Type of waterbed

There are two types of waterbeds:

  • Hard-side waterbed; and
  • Soft-side waterbed.

An external hardwood frame helps the hard-side waterbed maintain its shape. It is constructed with rectangular wooden boxes inserted with a vinyl bladder to enhance padding.

On the other hand, the soft-side waterbed uses foam bolsters to keep its shape, and a fabric cover with a padded top covers the foam bolsters. Softside waterbeds are good for your back because their foam frame offers an even mattress surface that provides extra support and comfort.

Sleeping style

Poor sleeping posture can exacerbate an existing backache (3), even on a waterbed. This means your sleeping style may alleviate or worsen your back pain on a waterbed.

Depending on your sleeping style, here is how a waterbed may ease or worsen back pain: 

  • Stomach sleepers
    As a general rule, one should not sleep on their stomach on a waterbed because doing so throws off their spine's natural alignment. Therefore, waterbeds aren’t the best option for treating back pain if you are a strict stomach sleeper. However, other terrific options are listed under the best mattresses for back pain.
  • Side sleepers
    Comfortable sleep on a waterbed will need to be supplemented for side sleepers by a firm, flat pillow between the knees. This prevents the leg on top from putting strain on the lower back and aligns the lower spine with the hips. 
  • Back sleepers
    For back sleepers, a headrest for back and neck support will help align the spine's natural curve while you slumber away on a waterbed. In short, back sleepers get the most out of the benefits of a waterbed for the back.

FAQ

Can Waterbeds Cause Back Pain?

A waterbed may cause back pain, depending on your sleeping style and the type of waterbed you sleep on. Some sleepers may experience strain in the lumbar area. However, a waterbed mattress pad and mattress toppers for your back are great bedding accessories to improve the sleeping situation.

Are waterbeds Good for Arthritis?

Waterbeds are good for arthritis because they are designed with a low-voltage heating system, which offers warmth and extraordinary pressure relief that reduces arthritis pain.

Conclusion

Undoubtedly, waterbeds offer great benefits for back support and back pain relief. Thankfully, the repertoire of waterbeds available means there is something for everyone irrespective of weight, preference, and back condition.

With the correct information on waterbed types and features, anyone should be able to make the right purchase of a waterbed to soothe their back needs.

Having read this article, you should better understand why waterbeds are good for your back. Are you considering getting a waterbed? Or do you have any questions about waterbeds? Please let us know in the comment section.

References: 

  1. Dynamic Fitness. (December 21, 2019). Sleep Patterns the Cause of Tight Muscles. Retrieved from https://dynamicmedicalfitness.com/blog/sleep-patterns-cause-tight-muscles#:~:text=Sleep%20is%20critical%20to%20muscle
  2. Mishra, R., & Bhattacharya, S. (April 2015). Pressure ulcers: Current understanding and newer modalities of treatment. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.4103/0970-0358.155260
  3. Health Essentials from Cleveland Clinic. (August 29, 2019). Is Your Sleep Position Causing You Back Pain? Retrieved from https://health.clevelandclinic.org/sleep-position-causing-back-pain/

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