How to choose the Best Mattress Topper for Lower Back Pain Relief and 5 product recommendations

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Written by: Alex Savy
Read 19 minLast updated November 5, 2020

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

Latex for Less
Editor’s Choice

Latex for Less
Check this Mattress topper on Latexforless.com
Read more about this mattress topper
RECCI
Best for Owners of Firmer Beds

RECCI
Check this Mattress topper on Amazon
Read more about this mattress topper
Sure2Sleep
Best for Cooler Sleep

Sure2Sleep
Check this Mattress topper on Amazon
Read more about this mattress topper
LUCID
Best Budget Pick

LUCID
Check this Mattress topper on Amazon
Read more about this mattress topper

Our List of the Best Mattress Toppers for Lower Back Pain Sufferers

Editor’s ChoiceLatex 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.

So, my first pick for this list of the best mattress toppers for lower back pain is the Latex for Less pad. This topper, being made of organic latex, can adjust to your body shape and promote healthy spinal alignment, which is crucial for lower back pain sufferers.

To start with, this model is pretty versatile. You can choose between 2” and 3” options, specify the firmness level (Soft, Medium, or Medium-Firm), and decide if you want the topper encased in a cotton cover. I strongly recommend you buy the cover, as it can add some softness to the final feel and prolong the lifespan of your mattress by keeping the dust and moisture away from its pores.

The medium option works best among the three for relieving the pressure in pressure points and supporting the spine. Latex feels spongier than foams and can offer the same close conforming without restricting your movements. Isn’t it exactly what you need for a therapeutic sleep?

Also, the Latex for Less topper sleeps cooler than synthetic foams, and this effect is further enhanced by small perforations across the surface. So, if you’re suffering from hot sleeping, this pad is definitely the way to go.

Overall, despite the higher price, the Latex for Less is worth every dollar spent. Its cradling effect can help you alleviate even chronic back pain and make your sleep more restorative.

Best for Owners of Firmer Beds — RECCI

RECCI

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Highlights

  • pure and soft memory foam that can alter the feel of an overly firm mattress;
  • removable bamboo cover for easy cleaning;
  • comes in three thicknesses — 2, 3, and 4 inches — so you can select the one that suits you.

One of the causes of lower back pain is the wrong mattress choice. But if your brand-new bed feels too firm, or if you sleep on an old innerspring mattress with coils poking you, the RECCI topper has got you covered, literally! The topper has claimed its place in the list of the best mattress toppers for lower back pain because of its incredibly soft feel and generous cradling that can make your current mattress more bearable.

The construction of the RECCI is pretty straightforward: it’s just a slab of memory foam encased in a bamboo viscose cover. The cover is removable, by the way, and you can easily wash it in a washing machine, which adds some points to maintenance. The pad is available in three thicknesses — 2, 3, and 4 inches — so you can adjust your choice depending on how much cushioning you want to add.

The 3-inch option is the most popular pick. It can be great for side and back sleepers of average weight.  This thickness sufficiently masks the imperfections of your mattress and offers a great hug for your pressure points. 

Despite the fact that the RECCI uses pure memory foam without any additives, it doesn’t sleep hot. The bamboo cover with a breathable weave manages to deal with excess heat and moisture and ensures cool sleep.

To sum up, the RECCI topper can really turn your firm mattress into a cozy cradle and eliminate all the discomfort and pain related to the mattress stiffness.

Best for Cooler Sleep — Sure2Sleep

Sure2Sleep

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Highlights

  • adds comfort to older and worn-out beds;
  • great cooling effect;
  • made with dense (3 PCF) foam and will last for years.

The next model in my list of the best mattress toppers for lower back pain is by Sure2Sleep. This topper is made of memory foam, so you can expect instant and close contouring to your body shape and total-body relaxation that will easily relieve pain. Aside from that, the Sure2Sleep will also take care of the optimal temperature in your bed. The gel infusion and open-cell structure will ensure proper heat dissipation and prevent you from drowning in your sweat.

The pad is 2 inches thick and has a medium feel, which might be a good pick for average-weight back sleepers and owners of moderately worn-out mattresses. As a mixed side and back sleeper, I found this topper to be a bit thin to offer sufficient pressure relief for my hips and shoulders. 

Speaking of the cooling effects, they’re great. Gel-infused foam is more adaptive to temperature changes and deals with heat removal better, ensuring a cool and peaceful sleep. 

Also, soft memory foam has very low motion transfer and will block any motion coming from your bedmate, so you can sleep soundly.

All things considered, the Sure2Sleep is a decent mattress topper for people with lower back pain. The memory foam will gently cradle your body and relax deep spinal muscles, thus preventing painful sensations. Plus, if you struggle with hot flashes or live in southern regions, the pad will upgrade your sleep experience by providing the optimal temperature in your bed.

Best Budget Pick — LUCID

LUCID

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Highlights

  • comes in 2-inch, 3-inch, and 4-inch thicknesses;
  • charcoal infusion for preventing mold growth;
  • perforated design for improved airflow.

And the last option on my list of top-rated mattress pads for lower back pain is the LUCID. Despite the low price, this memory foam topper offers you nearly the same level comfort and lower back pain alleviation as the more expensive models.

First, the manufacturer cares about the lifespan of the topper by infusing the foam with bamboo charcoal particles. The charcoal can absorb the moisture, thus preventing mold growth. Plus, it has antibacterial effects and can suppress bacteria that create funky odors.

The cooling effects of the LUCID are also pretty good. Along with open-cell structure, the topper has small perforations across the surface that aid in proper airflow and minimize heat retention.

The LUCID uses soft memory foam, which makes it a good pick for owners of firmer mattresses. You can choose between 2”, 3”, and 4” thickness, depending on how much you want to alter the feel of your mattress.

Overall, thanks to the soft feel, the LUCID will cradle your body and adjust to natural spine curves without triggering the sensitive points and provoking lower back pain. And it’s affordable, meaning that you can now get the perfect sleep without spending too much.

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

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).

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.

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 Latex for Less topper. Not only because I’m fond of latex, but also because this particular model really works. The Latex for Less pad adjusts to your body curves and can support natural spine alignment in any position while keeping you cool and cozy. Have you tried mattress toppers for dealing with lower back issues? What was your experience? Share your thoughts below!

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.

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

27

Mattresses Considered

112

Hours of Research

2

Sleep Experts Consulted

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