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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 34 minLast updated on July 15, 2022

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

Puffy Mattress Topper
Best Overall

Puffy Mattress Topper
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Saatva Mattress Topper
Runner Up

Saatva Mattress Topper
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Lift Mattress Topper by Amerisleep
Best for Back Sleepers

Lift Mattress Topper by Amerisleep
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GhostBed Memory Foam Topper
Best Cooling Topper for People with Lower Back Pain

GhostBed Memory Foam Topper
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Nolah Mattress Topper
Best Memory Foam Topper for Lower Back Pain

Nolah Mattress Topper
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Memory Foam Topper by Plushbeds
Best for Heavier Sleepers with Lower Back Pain

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

Best Overall — 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;
  • adaptive feel regardless of the firmness level to offer effective pressure relief to different sleeper categories.

The first model that deserves to be among the best mattress toppers for lower back pain is the Puffy. What makes it an excellent option for pain alleviation is its slow-moving, cradling feel. The Puffy molds to the body, providing optimal support and filling in the back curve. This leads to pressure redistribution and pain relief. I felt the Puffy’s effect after only two nights, 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.

Puffy Mattress Topper Thickness
Puffy Mattress Topper Unboxing

Runner Up — 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.

The next item on our list of the best mattress toppers for lower back pain is the Saatva. What makes it stand out from the crowd is the variety of materials the Saatva is available in.  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 Back Sleepers — Lift Mattress Topper by Amerisleep

Amerisleep™ Lift Mattress Topper

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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 deserves to be among the best mattress toppers for lower back pain for several reasons. First of all, it comes with a zoned support system, making it an excellent solution for back sleepers. The topper is firmer in the center to support the lower back and prevent it from curving during sleep. At the same time, it gently hugs the hips and the shoulders. As a result, the Lift can keep one’s back neutral and pain-free throughout the night. I felt that when testing the topper after sleeping in an awkward position during camping. Needless to say, this model made me feel tension-free almost instantly.

I also appreciate that the Lift mattress topper comes with a removable cover. It makes cleaning much easier. This can be a big plus for allergy sufferers, as the Lift would allow them to prevent allergen build-up without making much effort.

Best Cooling Topper for People with Lower Back Pain — GhostBed Memory Foam Topper

GhostBed Mattress 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 next pick among the best mattress toppers for lower back pain is the GhostBed. Not only does it offer zoned support to maintain a neutral, pain-free back, but it also comes with several cooling properties. This model uses gel infusion to prevent heat build-up. Additionally, the GhostBed has a convoluted design, resulting in improved breathability. Thanks to that, my warm memory foam mattress didn’t make me sweat even once while I was using it with the GhostBed topper.

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.

GhostBed Mattress Topper on a Mattress
GhostBed Mattress Topper Layers

Best Memory Foam Topper for Lower Back Pain — Nolah Mattress Topper

Nolah Mattress Topper

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Highlights

  • breathable design to aid temperature regulation;
  • quality materials to ensure long-lasting performance;
  • minimal bounce to prevent motion transfer.

The best mattress topper for lower back pain relief has to ensure even pressure redistribution, and the Nolah excels at that. This model uses adaptive foam that adjusts to the sleeper’s shape, offers extra support for the lumbar curve, and hugs the protruding body parts. Thanks to that, the Nolah helped me sleep tension- and pain-free even after returning from a backpacking trip with an extremely stiff back.

Another impressive thing about the Nolah mattress topper is that it sleeps cooler than most standard memory foam models. I didn’t overheat even when I was sleeping on my side (sinking deeper) under a warm down duvet. Therefore, the Nolah mattress topper can be an excellent solution for people who want the cradling foam feel but tend to sleep hot.

Best for Heavier Sleepers with Lower Back Pain — Memory Foam Mattress Topper by Plushbeds

Plushbeds Memory Foam Topper

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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). 

It’s also worth mentioning that the Plushbeds topper is available in an extra-dense variation. Therefore, it can support heavier sleepers while offering gentle cradling and pressure relief. They can also pick a thicker model that would feel even more supportive.

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

Eco Terra The Latex for Less Topper

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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.

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 Puffy mattress topper. This model uses cradling foam to provide optimal support to different body sections. This can help maintain the natural curve of the spine and relieve pressure from the lower back. And less tension usually means alleviated back pain. I also appreciate that the Puffy topper feels very sturdy. Chances are, it will be a long-lasting investment for a good price.

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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Mattress Toppers Considered

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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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