Can Mattress Toppers Cause Lower Back Pain?

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Waking up with lower back pain can really be ‘a pain’. The worst thing is that sometimes it can be hard to pinpoint the reason for this pain that you are suffering from.

When it comes to whether mattress toppers are a good solution to back pain, the reviews are fairly mixed. While some people say that mattress toppers help solve their back pain, others blame their  mattress toppers for causing lower back pain.

Toppers can be great because they can make a firm bed a little more comfortable and a soft bed a little firmer. The idea is that we want to avoid extremes, because a bed that is too firm won’t support your spine’s natural curves, which over time can lead to pain and discomfort. On the flip side, a bed that is too soft will cause you to sink in and won’t protect those curves either.

The most common cause of back pain is in your lower back.

The secret is to strike a happy medium between the two. The best material to sleep on is the type that molds to your shape, like memory foam. This allows you to keep your spine and head well aligned while you sleep, therefore reducing the chances of pain and injury.

Can mattress toppers cause lower back pain?

When it comes to mattress toppers and back pain, WebMD reminds us that sleep is subjective and it is very hard to reliably measure the effect of different sleeping surfaces on the quality of sleep that we get.

However, it is generally believed that while wrongly-chosen mattress toppers can make an existing problem worse, they do not actually cause lower back pain.

Chances are that they just exacerbate an already existing condition.

One common thing that happens is that someone will try sleeping on a mattress topper because they hear how comfortable they are, but some toppers are not supportive enough and can lead to pain after sleeping on them for a while because they cause us to sleep in bad alignment.

Many people who have experienced this have looked everywhere for relief, only to find it when they removed their mattress topper from their bed. This makes them think that mattress toppers are to blame, but not all of them are bad. The trick is to find the right one for your needs.

How can you take control of your back pain management?

To prevent back pain while sleeping your body needs to be able to relax
A good postural sleeping position

The solution to lower back pain stiffness (or any type of back pain or hip pain) that is being caused by your mattress topper is to remove the one you are using and re-evaluate your need for one in the first place.

If your regular mattress already has a good level of firmness you might consider just a mattress protector to save your mattress from wear and tear

If you decide that you will want to use a mattress topper you should look into the different types and materials that are available. There more than 10 different types and kinds of mattress toppers ranging from egg crate pads and cooling toppers to visco and cotton.

Generally, a soft mattress topper (or soft mattress) is often the culprit for lower back pain. In other instances, a very hard mattress topper can also be to blame. Which means, you’ll have to strike a balance and get a medium firm mattress topper which gives just the right amount of support and comfort to relieve pressure points.

Find a topper that is fairly supportive without being too hard, and comfortable to sleep on without being too soft. Make sure that it is made of durable materials and won’t lose its shape after you wash it or sleep on it regularly for a while.

Other things that you can do to mitigate back pain that is made worse when you sleep is to change your sleeping position and make sure that your pillow is right for you.

For example, make sure that the curves in your spine are well-supported and that your head is not angled up or down when you sleep, but rather is straight in relation to your back.

Staying fit and active is extremely good for your body especially if you live a very sedentary life (eg. working in an office) as it helps with back pain reduction and stiffness. Let’s take a look at the poses you can do.Here’s great infographic created by Apollo Hospitals with a set of 5 easy exercises to provide relief from lower back pain. These are:

  1. Flexion
  2. Lumbar Rotation Stretch
  3. Flexion Knee to Chest
  4. Pelvic Tilts
  5. Cat Stretches

5 Easy Sets of Exercises to relieve chronic lower back pain from mattress toppers

Other Potential Causes of Lower Back Pain

There is a chance that your new mattress topper is making lower back pain that was already starting to develop worse. In this case, figuring out the root cause of your back pain and treating that may make your sleeping situation better.

  • Injury or a pulled muscle
  • Sciatica
  • Pregnancy
  • Disk degeneration
  • Osteoarthritis


The answer to the question, “Can a memory foam mattress topper cause lower back pain?” is not a simple one. It could be that a new mattress topper made existing back pain worse, or that it threw off your alignment compared to the mattress you were using before. If your back pain started as soon as you added a mattress topper to your bed, try taking it off to see what happens.

Mattress toppers can be expensive so before going out and buying one, try to find one that is well suited to your needs and made to last. Mattress toppers can be a great solution to sleep discomfort, especially if you can’t afford to buy a new mattress altogether… The key is to find the right one before buying and make sure that your back will be well-supported.

Related: Which is the Best Mattress for Managing Lower Back Pain?