Are Spring Mattresses Good for Your Back? (Buying Guide)

If you struggle with back pain and you’re thinking about buying a new mattress then you might be wondering if a spring mattress is actually good for your back or if you should go for an all-foam memory foam or latex mattress instead.

A spring mattress can be good for your back if you go for a hybrid spring mattress that’s topped with high-quality natural latex or memory foam, has the correct firmness for your body weight and sleeping style, and has more than 400 individually wrapped 13-15 gauge coils in a queen-sized mattress.

The rest of this article shows you how to buy a spring mattress that’s good for your back in 5 steps.

Alternatively: if you’re looking for a new mattress with springs that’s good for your back then check out the Awara hybrid spring latex mattress here (also rated the #1 mattress for restless sleepers) – where you can save $300 by buying through the links on that page.

How to Buy a Spring Mattress That’s Good For Your Back

Finding a mattress that’s good for your back requires you to pick the design, materials, support, and firmness that’s best suited to your body weight, body type, and preferred sleeping position.

Here’s how you can do that in 5 steps.

1: Go For a Hybrid Mattress

The first step is to decide which type of spring mattress to go for – a hybrid spring mattress or a traditional spring mattress.

A hybrid spring mattress typically has a spring support core made from individually wrapped coils with an upper comfort layer that’s made from memory foam, latex foam, polyfoam, or a mixture of foams.

A traditional spring mattress has an upholstered top layer that may include polyfoam or a range of different fibers for comfort, whilst the support is provided by a spring core that may utilize a variety of different coil designs – including Bonnell coils, offset coils, continuous coils, or Marshall coils [1].

Generally speaking, whilst traditional spring mattresses may be cheaper, the high-quality hybrid mattresses that you can buy online are better for your back because they use singularly wrapped coils that can individually adjust to your body shape to promote better posture, whilst the foams in the comfort layer can provide superior pressure relief for enhanced comfort.

2: Pick the Comfort Layer Materials

The comfort layer of the mattress is the upper layer of the mattress beneath the cover that provides cushioning and comfort.

When it comes to traditional spring mattresses, the comfort layer tends to be quite thin and is often comprised of cheap polyfoam, polyester, or natural fibers like cotton or wool – which typically allows the springs to be felt quite easily and may lead to uncomfortable pressure points forming on your body.

Therefore, it’s generally advised that you go for a thicker comfort layer (at least 3 inches) to cover up the feeling of the springs and provide a greater capacity for pressure relief.

This can be achieved by going for a hybrid mattress with a comfort layer that’s made from memory foam or natural latex.

Natural Latex

A hybrid spring mattress that’s topped with a natural latex comfort layer makes for one of the most breathable mattresses that promotes airflow, dissipates heat, and helps to regulate your temperature (which is ideal if you tend to sleep warm and/or live in a hot climate).

Beyond this, natural latex foam provides an excellent balance between pressure relief and responsiveness that can also provide excellent support for your back.

The latex foam helps to soothe the pressure points on the more angular regions of your body whilst also retaining its shape quickly as you switch positions so that you don’t get bogged down in the materials – which is ideal if you’re a restless sleeper.

Natural latex is also highly durable (especially if it’s certified as organic) – which means that it can potentially contribute to increasing the lifespan of your mattress.

For example, a regular spring mattress may last for around 5-7 years, whilst a high-quality latex mattress may last up to 10 years or more with the right care.

Natural organic latex-containing mattresses can also be ideal if you are sensitive to dust mites and/or mold spores because the potentially antimicrobial qualities of the foam may help to inhibit dust mite habitation and mold growth.

And the lack of toxic chemicals and synthetic foams in a natural latex mattress means that there’s much less chance of you experiencing an allergic reaction due to inhaling or having your skin come into contact with allergens.

In summary, you should go for a hybrid spring mattress topped with natural latex if you want to sleep cool, soothe pressure points, be able to switch positions easily, and own a mattress that could potentially last for longer than a decade.

If you’d like to buy a high-quality latex-topped hybrid spring mattress to help support your back and provide pressure relief all over your body then I recommend the Awara Hybridwhich is also my #1 recommendation for restless sleepers.

Memory Foam

Memory foam is derived from polyfoam and has other chemicals added to it to increase its viscosity which allows the foam to provide outstanding pressure relief by molding to the exact contours of your body.

A memory foam topped hybrid spring mattress can be a good choice for managing back pain because it balances pressure relief with adaptive support to help maintain good posture whilst also removing discomfort from the more prominent regions of your body.

However, due to its synthetic design, memory foam can trap heat more than latex and potentially cause you to sleep hot – although this risk is mitigated somewhat when going for a hybrid spring memory foam mattress because the coil core can allow the heat to dissipate and for cooler ambient air to flow in.

But the memory foam can help to absorb movements slightly better than the more bouncy latex foam – which can be beneficial if you sleep as a couple and are sick of waking each other up as you move around.

You should consider going for a hybrid spring memory foam mattress over a latex hybrid mattress if you want to maximize pressure relief without sacrificing support (which can happen with some cheap all-foam memory foam mattresses).

So a hybrid spring memory foam mattress could be ideal for you if you sleep as a couple, are a side sleeper, a heavier sleeper over 200 lbs, have a lower body fat percentage, or are a lighter sleeper that weighs less than 150 lbs.

If you’d like to buy a high-quality hybrid spring memory foam mattress to help support your back and provide maximal pressure relief then I recommend the Amerisleep AS3 Hybrid – which is the best hybrid mattress for back and front sleepers on my list of the best mattresses in a box to buy online (see entry #3 for more details).

The Transition Layer

Beneath the comfort layer of a hybrid spring mattress, you’ll often find an additional ‘transition layer’ that’s designed to act as a buffer between the comfort layer and the support layer.

Look for higher density latex, memory foam, or polyfoam in the transition layer to provide cushioning and support for your back.

In some hybrid mattresses, you may also find a sub-layer of micro-coils that provides adaptive support that can be especially beneficial in providing contoured support for your back.

3: Choose the Firmness

The mattress ‘firmness’ describes how hard or soft the mattress feels when you lie down on it and it contributes significantly to the overall comfort and feel of the mattress.

The firmness is set by the manufacturer using different ILD values for the foam and by adjusting other variables like the spring tension that may have a peripheral impact on the overall firmness and feel of the mattress.

Mattresses come in a range of firmnesses – with soft, medium, and firm being the most popular.

However, there are more specific firmnesses available such as ultra-soft, medium-soft, medium-firm, and extra-firm.

Picking the right firmness isn’t an exact science because the final comfort depends on how your body weight, body type, and dominant sleeping position interacts with the materials and the design of the mattress.

However, a ‘medium’ or ‘universal’ level of firmness is suitable for most front, back, and side sleepers in the 130 – 230 lbs range.

The table below provides a summary of which firmnesses are best suited to which sleeping styles.

FirmnessBest For
Ultra-softSide sleepers under 130 lbs.
SoftSide sleepers or lighter weighted sleepers under 130 lbs.
Medium-softFront, back, and side sleepers in the 130 – 150 lbs range who prefer a softer feel.
MediumFront, back, and side sleepers in the 130 – 230 lbs range.
Medium-firmFront, back, and side sleepers in the 200 – 230 lbs range who prefer a firmer feel.
FirmFront and back sleepers, and/or sleepers over 230-250 lbs.
Ultra-firm Front and back sleepers over 250 lbs.

4: Look at the Quality of the Spring Support Core

Visual difference between firmness and support. (Custom Image: BedroomStyleReviews.com).
Visual difference between firmness and support. (Custom Image: BedroomStyleReviews.com).

Whilst the firmness setting and the materials used in the upper comfort layer will have a significant impact on how comfortable you will feel in the mattress, it’s actually the much thicker support layer that will have the largest impact on how well your back is supported.

Going for a high-quality hybrid spring mattress goes a long way towards ensuring that you’re getting a mattress with a good level of support.

But more specifically, you should consider the coil type, coil gauge, and the coil count as follows:

Coil Type

For the best possible support for your back, look for individually encased coils because they will adapt more precisely to your body shape to help you attain the best posture and minimize motion disturbance.

This contrasts with the coils used in traditional spring mattresses that are often connected and therefore don’t adapt as precisely and transfer movement more easily (potentially making for a noisy bed and being able to feel your partner moving around more).

Coil Gauge

Mattress coil gauges typically range from 12 to 15 – with 14-15 offering a mattress with more ‘give’ and a gauge of 13 or lower contributing to a firmer mattress.

Lower coil gauges are often better around the edge of the mattress to improve edge support and guard against sagging.

Coil Count

For a queen-sized bed, look for a coil count of at least 400 (some go up to 1000 or more) to ensure that there are enough springs in the mattress to help keep your back supported and maintain good posture across the entire surface area of the mattress.

5: Zoned Support

To further keep your back supported, you may like to go for a hybrid spring mattress that has ‘zoned support’.

Mattresses with zoned support typically have firmer coils around where your lower back rests on the mattress to stop your hips dropping out of alignment, whilst the springs around your shoulders typically have more give to them so that you’ll sink more into the mattress to alleviate the pressure in your shoulder joints.

Some mattresses may also extend this type of zoned support to the upper comfort layers by using different levels of foam firmnesses.

A good example of a hybrid spring mattress that’s good for your back with zoned support is the Layla Double-Sided Hybrid Mattress (see entry #12 on my list of the best mattresses to buy online here for more details).

Related Questions

With most of the main points covered, I’m going to close this article by answering a few common questions that are related to spring mattresses and back pain.

What is an Orthopedic Mattress?

An orthopedic mattress is a mattress that’s on the firmer side and may theoretically help to support your spine and joints better than a softer mattress to promote better posture and combat back pain.

Which Type of Mattress is Best For Your Back?

The best kind of mattress for your back is one that provides enough support to keep you in the correct posture – hybrid spring mattresses with either a natural latex or memory foam top layer are considered to be some of the best types of mattresses for your back.

How Can You Tell if Your Mattress is Causing Back Pain?

You can typically identify if your mattress is causing you back pain if the pain tends to be worse in the morning and wears off as the day goes on – look across the surface of the mattress for sagging or indentations that are greater than 1 inch in depth (since this may be causing the poor posture that’s leading to your back pain).

Conclusion: Go For a Hybrid Latex Spring Mattress

The best types of spring mattresses to help support your back and combat back pain are hybrid spring mattresses that have either natural latex or high-quality memory foam in the comfort layers because they provide an excellent balance between pressure relief and support.

However, I recommend going for natural latex in most cases because they tend to be more cooling, more durable, and better for allergies.

Beyond this, make sure that you follow the points made above to help you identify the correct level of firmness since this will also have a significant impact on how comfortable you will feel in your mattress.

What’s the Best Spring Mattress For Your Back?

I recommend the Awara hybrid spring mattress for your back because it includes 4″ of natural Dunlop latex foam in the top layer and 9″ of individually wrapped pocket coils in the support core to maintain good posture and relieve pressure all over your body.

Plus, the Awara comes with a 1-year sleep trial so that you can test it out to ensure that you’re comfortable in it.

Click the button below to find out more about the Awara mattress (and save $300 when you buy through the links on that page).


Sources and References

[1] Wikipedia – Mattress. Accessed 3/9/20.

Disclaimer

No part of this post or website provides medical advice. Please consult with a qualified professional before buying a sleep product for your specific health needs.

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