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How to choose the Best Mattress Topper for Lower Back Pain Relief and 7 product recommendations

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Written by: Alex Savy
Read 30 minLast updated on November 16, 2021

While we’re sleeping, our body heals and restores energy for the next big day.

And nagging back pain is the last thing we want upon awakening.

The good news is that you can make your sleeping environment friendlier and reduce the chances of lower back pain visiting you by doing one simple thing:

Purchasing a mattress pad.

This simple item can add some cushioning you need to relax your deep muscles and provide the much-needed pain relief. So, dive right into the recommendations on how to choose the best mattress toppers for lower back pain and check the selection of the best models for lower back pain relief.

A Quick Preview

Lift Mattress Topper by Amerisleep
Best Overall - Editor’s Choice

Lift Mattress Topper by Amerisleep
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GhostBed Memory Foam Topper
Runner Up

GhostBed Memory Foam Topper
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Saatva Mattress Topper
Best for Hot Sleepers with Lower Back Pain

Saatva Mattress Topper
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Puffy Mattress Topper
Best for Restless Sleepers

Puffy Mattress Topper
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Memory Foam Topper by Plushbeds
Best for All Sleeping Styles

Memory Foam Mattress Topper by Plushbeds
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Latex for Less
Best for Value Seekers

Mattress Topper by Latex for Less
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Latex Topper by Brooklyn Bedding
Best Latex Model

Latex Topper by Brooklyn Bedding
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Our List of the Best Mattress Toppers for Lower Back Pain Sufferers

Best Overall - Editor’s Choice — Lift Mattress Topper by Amerisleep

Lift Mattress Topper by Amerisleep

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Highlights

  • 2 comfort options to satisfy more types of sleepers;
  • zoned HIVE support system for proper weight redistribution and unparalleled tension relief;
  • zippered cover for easy cleaning.

The Lift by Amerisleep is an excellent example of what the best mattress topper for lower back pain should look like. First of all, it comes in two firmness variations. Therefore, the Lift can satisfy more sleepers that have different preferences or belong to different weight categories. This is quite rare for mattress toppers. In most cases, they offer only one firmness level.

Another feature that managed to impress me was the Lift’s zoned support system. Thanks to it, relieving pressure is like a piece of cake for this mattress topper. It uses different zones to provide the optimal levels of support for different body parts. The Lift hugs the heavier parts and offers more support where it’s needed. This leads to a proper spinal alignment and thus, less pain. I felt that when testing the Lift topper after sleeping in an awkward position during camping. Needless to say, this mattress topper made me feel tension-free almost instantly.

Runner Up — GhostBed Memory Foam Topper

GhostBed Memory Foam Topper
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Highlights

  • gel memory foam for cooler sleep without giving up the gentle cradling;
  • waterproof cover to help maintain a clean, fresh sleeping environment;
  • zoned design for targeted support and tension alleviation.

The second top pick among the best mattress toppers for lower back pain is the GhostBed.  This memory foam model uses 5 zones to deliver the necessary support for different body parts. As a result, it aids proper tension redistribution and can help with lower back pain. Plus, the GhostBed is a conforming topper that does an impressive job of relieving tension. It made me feel almost weightless, which I’m sure many sleepers will enjoy too.

I also appreciate the cover that comes with this topper. First off, it’s waterproof. This means the cover can also work as a mattress protector and may help increase its lifespan. Additionally, the cover is designed like a fitted sheet. It has deep pockets and sits securely on top of the mattress. As a combination sleeper who sometimes shifts in bed, I appreciate this factor a lot. I did not have to readjust my GhostBed topper even once thanks to its secure fit.

Best for Hot Sleepers with Lower Back Pain — Saatva Mattress Topper

Saatva Mattress Topper
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Highlights

  • four elastic bands to guarantee an extra secure fit;
  • 45-night trial for improved customer satisfaction;
  • three material variations to allow shoppers to find their ideal feel.

Do you know what makes this topper by Saatva unique? Unlike most other models, it does not offer firmness variations. Instead, the Saatva topper offers different material options. And two of them have cooling properties, which makes the Saatva ideal for those who hate sleeping hot. The graphite-infused foam model offers close conforming and a gentle hug but also draws the excess heat and moisture away. Shoppers can also pick the latex version, which doesn't feel too enveloping and remains neutral during the night.

Another thing that sets the Saatva apart is the return window it comes with. Sleep trials are quite rare for mattress toppers, but it seems like guys at Saatva want to make sure their customers are 100% happy. You get 45 days to test the topper and decide whether you like it or not. This could really come in handy for hesitant shoppers who aren’t sure what they need exactly.

Best for Restless Sleepers — Puffy Mattress Topper

Puffy Mattress Topper

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Highlights

  • lifetime warranty for improved customer protection;
  • works like a fitted sheet to eliminate adjustments;
  • removable cover for effortless cleaning.

Another model that deserves to be among the best mattress toppers for lower back pain is the Puffy. I’m sure sleepers will love how this adaptive topper feels. It cradles the body but provides optimal support for the lower back, which is great for mitigating pain levels. I felt relief after only two nights when testing the Puffy topper, which is pretty impressive.

Now, back pain can often cause sleepers to shift in bed trying to find a comfortable position. And the Puffy would be perfect for such users. You see, this topper comes with an anti-slip grip and works like a fitted sheet. It sticks to the mattress and stays there all night. While testing this model, I didn’t have to readjust it even once. As a combo sleeper, I appreciate that a lot, as many other toppers usually end up hanging over my mattress in the morning.

Best for All Sleeping Styles — Memory Foam Mattress Topper by Plushbeds

Memory Foam Topper by Plushbeds

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Highlights

  • conforming memory foam to aid fast relaxation and pressure relief;
  • thickness and density variations to achieve different comfort levels and to satisfy more users;
  • open-cell structure for added air circulation.

The next item I simply couldn’t forget to include in this list of the best mattress toppers for lower back pain is the Plushbeds memory foam topper. What makes this model ideal for those dealing with pain is its conforming abilities. Memory foam can help reduce tension, allowing your back to relax and alleviating the pain. And since the Plushbeds topper uses high-density foam, it can also offer extra support for your body, redistributing your weight evenly and kind of extending the pressure all across the body instead of letting it accumulate in one spot (which can often worsen the pain). 

However, I’m sure shoppers will also love that the Plushbeds topper can accommodate different types of sleepers. This model comes in multiple height and density variations. Therefore, shoppers can get a perfect combination that would work for their preferred sleeping style. For instance, as a combo side and back sleeper, I was testing the softer 3-inch model. My wife, however, enjoyed the denser 2-inch version of this topper, as she is a stomach sleeper.

It’s also worth mentioning that the Plushbeds topper is very well-made. It uses high-density foam (even for softer models) and feels sturdy and reliable. This also means that the Plushbeds mattress topper can provide decent support (crucial for proper spinal alignment). I have friends who have been using this memory foam topper for years, and they can attest to its quality as the Pluishbeds did not lose its supportive properties.

Best for Value Seekers — Mattress Topper by Latex for Less

Latex for Less
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Highlights

  • natural latex instantly adapts to your body shape and relieves pain;
  • comes in three comfort levels for different types of pain;
  • has a soft cotton cover that wicks away moisture and ensures cool sleep.

Wish to find a good latex topper but feel like this material type is too expensive? Then you might want to consider Latex for Less. As the name of the company implies, this topper doesn’t cost that much (considering its construction). At the same time, resilient latex can give your back that heavenly relaxation by adjusting to the body and supporting it properly. That’s why this model deserves to be among the best mattress toppers for lower back pain.

Another aspect that impressed me was the customization this topper offers. Latex for Less comes in 2 thickness and 3 firmness variations. Therefore, users can pick any combination that would meet their requirements. For instance, as a side and back sleeper, I picked the 3-inch model with a medium feel. Luckily enough, it offered just the right amount of support without causing sharp pressure points.

Best Latex Model — Latex Topper by Brooklyn Bedding

Latex Topper by Brooklyn Bedding

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Highlights

  • three firmness options to accommodate different types of users and sleeping styles;
  • natural Talalay latex to create a safe sleeping environment;
  • organic cotton cover for enhanced breathability and cooler sleep.

The next item I want to share with you is a latex mattress topper by Brooklyn Bedding. It has a unique feel that managed to win me over only after one night. This model is adaptive and does a great job of distributing pressure evenly (which makes it one of the best mattress toppers for lower back pain).

At the same time, this topper by Brooklyn Bedding responds fast to applied pressure. Therefore, it doesn’t have an enveloping feel (unlike foam). As a combination sleeper, I find that very helpful. This topper allowed me to move freely and most importantly, effortlessly. And since lower back pain can often cause difficulties moving, the fast-moving feel of this latex topper may really come in handy.

What Types of Mattress Toppers Work Best for Lower Back Pain?

Mattress Toppers-P1044709 Most mattress toppers you will find on the market are made of these three materials:

  • Memory foam. The queen of contouring, memory foam, quickly adjusts to your body shape and relaxes the deep spinal muscles, thus putting your spine into a natural position. This is the best pick for chronic lower back pain. However, traditional memory foam is a thermosensitive material, meaning that it can change the feel depending on body temperature. While this explains the cradling properties, temperature sensitivity is also a culprit of heat retention, so choose open-cell and gel-infused memory foams to avoid hot sleeping.
  • Polyfoam. A cheaper alternative to memory foam, polyfoam has an open-cell structure and a spongier feel. The latter is great if your pain limits your mobility because polyfoam leaves you able to move without making you feel trapped. Note that polyfoam is generally less durable, so you should always opt for a higher density (1.5-1.8 PCF) — this will prevent premature sagging and breaking.
  • Latex. Latex is a natural material, and along with good contouring and pressure relief, it offers other benefits — such as cool sleeping, durability, hypoallergenic and antibacterial effects. However, natural latex might be too expensive for some, which is its main drawback.

There are also dual-layer mattress pads with fiberfill padding. They might seem comfy at first, but the fiber layer often goes flat very quickly and loses its cradling effect.

What to Consider When Shopping for a Good Mattress Pad for Lower Back Pain?

When it comes to finding a suitable mattress topper for lower back pain, you need to consider your body’s needs. After all, we each have unique bodies, and no topper will be equally comfortable for everyone.

So, check out some tips that will help you make the right choice.

Firmness

A good rule of thumb is to choose the optimal firmness in accordance with your weight, preferred sleeping position, and pain localization. Here’s why it’s important:

  • Weight.  Heavier users tend to sink deeper into the topper, and if it’s too soft, it may fail to provide proper support to them. So, if you’re a heavy guy, you might need a medium-firm or even a firm mattress pad to deal with the increased weight yet properly contour your lower abdomen area.
  • Pain localization. Sometimes, lower back pain may affect not only the lumbar area but also the pelvis or the sacrum bone. If this is your case, you’ll need to look for a mattress pad for hip pain relief. Such pads can usually cradle your lower back better and prevent unnatural curvature of the spine.
  • Sleeping position. Different sleeping positions create different pressure points in your body, and hence, require different firmness levels to distribute your weight properly. For example, a mattress topper for side sleepers should have a soft-to-medium feel in order to cradle the protruding hips and shoulders. Back and stomach sleepers can benefit from medium and medium-firm pads that would conform closely to their lower back. In fact, according to a 2003 study, most low-back pain sufferers feel better on a medium-firm surface (1).

Sleeping position-P1044710

Quick tip:

Try to avoid sleeping on your stomach if you have lower back pain. This position flattens the natural curve of your lumbar area and can make things worse (2).

Thermoregulation

Sleeping hot is what we all want to avoid when shopping for a new mattress or topper. But if you’re initially prone to overheating during sleep, this might actually decrease your tolerance to pain.

Unfortunately, many mattress toppers that properly cradle your body also tend to sleep hotter because of the increased area of contact between your body and the topper. 

Don’t worry, though.  You can still improve the situation:

  • Choose open-cell foams. Polyfoam or memory foam with an open-cell structure create a pathway for the heat to escape the material, which makes it easier for them to cool your body down.
  • Go for infused foams.  Gel or copper infusions make the foam more temperature-neutral and act as conductors of your body heat.
  • Opt for egg-crate toppers.  An egg-crate topper has a specific design that improves airflow between your body and the pad, thus helping you sleep cooler. Also, the crates provide a slight massage effect that contributes to pain relief.

Fastening System

Lower back pain often causes sleepers to toss and turn. While this may help them find the least painful position, this also often causes a mattress topper to move and slip. In this case, a secure fit is a must.

For active sleepers, the best solution would be a mattress topper that works like a fitted sheet. However, shoppers need to make sure the pockets are deep enough to accommodate the height of their mattress.

Another great option is a topper that has elastic straps. They are often adjustable, which makes them suitable for virtually any mattress thickness.

Response to Motion

Again, lower back pain sufferers often switch positions to relieve the symptoms. And if they share the bed with a significant other, this can be an issue. After all, too much movement can wake one’s partner up during the night, and no one wants that.

To avoid nighttime disturbances, it’s better to choose a slow-moving mattress topper. Memory foam works the best in this case. As for latex, it can be pretty bouncy (unless it’s a soft topper).

Sleep Trial

Not all mattress toppers come with a sleep trial. But for lower back pain sufferers, this aspect can be very important. And yes, picking a topper that includes a sleep trial may limit one’s options. But at the same time, testing a mattress topper at home can help users find the ideal model that would help relieve their back pain.

And in case it doesn’t, they don’t have to keep it (and sleep uncomfortably). Instead, shoppers can return the mattress topper, get their money back, and try the next model.

Thickness

Usually, mattress toppers range from 1 to 4 inches in height. The thickness can determine how significantly the topper may alter the feel of one’s mattress.

For instance, thinner models may add a moderate amount of cushioning. Firmer but thin toppers can enhance the support, but only to a small extent.

Thicker toppers, on the other hand, are likely to change the feel of the mattress noticeably. Thicker models often offer more cradling and a generous hug. If a mattress topper is both thick and firm, it may deliver sturdier support. Such a design could also aid proper spinal alignment.

Mobility

Dealing with back pain can sometimes cause limited mobility. And shoppers need to consider this aspect when looking for a new mattress topper. The thing is, this bedroom accessory can change the feel of one’s mattress, which could also make moving and getting out of it more challenging.

For instance, memory foam toppers usually have an enveloping feel. That’s why they can often feel like quicksand when users with limited mobility try to get out of bed. If that’s the case, shoppers might want to stick to latex toppers. They are bouncier and shouldn’t restrict movement that much. Polyfoam toppers might also suffice, as they move a bit faster than memory foam. Additionally, polyfoam is cheaper than latex and would be more suited for budget shoppers.

Mattress Pads vs. Toppers: Are They the Same?

Mattress toppers and pads are often regarded as synonyms.

However, they are different, and shoppers need to consider that when looking for something to ease their lower back pain.

Mattress pads are typically thinner than toppers. Therefore, they can’t always deliver the needed pressure alleviation. Additionally, pads often use less conforming materials (such as down or fibers, for example). Again, this may affect their tension-relieving properties, making mattress pads less than ideal for lower back pain.

FAQ

Can a mattress topper cause pain?

Yes. If it’s not chosen based on your unique body needs, it may feel too soft or too firm, which is likely to result in morning back pain.

What kind of mattress topper is best for lower back pain?

The main things to look for if you suffer from lower back pain are medium firmness and close conforming.

Summary


A mattress pad is a sure way to make your sleep more comfortable and adjust the feel of your mattress to your needs.

To choose the model that will become your ally in combating lower back pain, go for materials that offer you good contouring: traditional or gel-infused memory foam and natural latex. Also, if your pain is the result of the old or overly firm mattress, consider thick pads with a softer feel that can address these problems and reduce your time of tossing and turning.

Or, you can pick one of the models listed in this selection.

My absolute favorite among them is the Lift Mattress Topper by Amerisleep. This model is hard not to love (especially after it gave me the long-awaited relief). After all, not all mattress toppers can offer such levels of optimal support and cradling. Additionally, the Lift comes in two firmness variations, so it’s likely to make more sleepers happy. It’s also well-made and feels sturdy. Therefore, this investment isn’t going to be in vain.

Have you tried mattress toppers for dealing with lower back issues? What was your experience? Share your thoughts below!

References

  1. Francisco M Kovacs, Ph.D., Víctor Abraira, Ph.D., Andrés Peña, MD, José Gerardo Martín-Rodríguez, MD, Manuel Sánchez-Vera, MD, Enrique Ferrer, Ph.D., et al. (2003, November 15). Effect of Firmness of the Mattress on Chronic Non-Specific Low-Back Pain: Randomised, Double-Blind, Controlled, Multicentre Trial. Retrieved from  https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(03)14792-7/fulltext
  2. Deborah Weatherspoon, Ph.D., R.N., CRNA (2018, June 29). How These 3 Sleep Positions Affect Your Gut Health Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/healthy-sleep/sleep-effects-digestion#stomach-sleeping

Our research

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Mattresses Considered

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Hours of Research

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3 comments

  1. I’m looking for a mattress to support my lower back pain. Got a chance to read this article, now I have decided to go with a Mattress for spine support which is memory foam. Good job, Keep sharing!!

  2. This was very helpful – thank you!

  3. Thank you, Jody.

    I’m glad that you found the article useful.

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