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Best mattress for a bad back 2024: Wave away back pain with the right mattress

Tempur supreme memory foam mattress next to a wood bedside table

Do you wake with an ache or suffer from back pain? Finding the best mattress might make things easier on your spine

Finding the best mattress for a bad back is important. If you’re often waking up in the morning with stiff aches and pains, then it could be a sign that your current mattress isn’t supporting your body properly and you’re in need of a new one. 

It’s important to take into account your weight, build and sleeping style. Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to mattresses. The good news, however, is that we’ve tested and reviewed a range of them ourselves (more than 40 to be more precise), putting us in the best position to recommend the right one for you – regardless of your sleeping style. 

Below you’ll find an at-a-glance list, with some quick buying links to our top recommendations, alongside a short explanation of how we test the mattresses we review. Read on for our roundup of mini-reviews, after which you’ll find our in-depth buying guide on how to pick the best mattress for a bad back.

Featured deal

The five-star Simba Hybrid Pro currently comes with a free mattress protector worth up to £169 (depending on the size you go for).

View deal at Simba

Featured deal

Our favourite firm mattress for bad backs, the Otty Original Hybrid, is now on sale, meaning you could save a fantastic £125 on a king, for example. Just make sure you get in there before the deal ends. 

View deal at Otty

Best mattress for a bad back: At a glance

Best foam mattress with a year-long trialNectar Memory Foam mattress (From ~£949)Check price at Nectar
Best hybrid mattressSimba Hybrid Pro (From ~£1,169)Check price at Simba
Best premium foam mattress Tempur Original Supreme (From ~£1,499)Check price at Tempur
Best firm mattress for bad backsOtty Original Hybrid (From ~£800)Check price at Otty

How we test mattresses

We review all mattresses having first slept on them, relying largely on what is perhaps the best test of a quality mattress: a good night’s sleep. That being said, there are a number of other things we look out for when testing mattresses. On top of comfort and support, these include firmness and temperature control (mattresses and bedding retain body heat, so this is an important factor for those who are prone to getting too hot during the night) as well as value for money and – where possible – motion isolation. In addition to this, the type of base on which you put your mattress will have a big impact on how it feels.

How we test the best mattresses for bad backs

When buying a mattress to alleviate back pain, the firmness of the mattress is particularly important. As we’ve said, you don’t want to be sinking into your mattress too much around your hips and feet, and we’ve taken this into account when deciding which of the mattresses to feature on our roundup.

READ NEXT: Best mattresses

The best mattresses for bad backs you can buy in 2024

1. Nectar Memory Foam Mattress: Best foam mattress with a year-long trial

Price when reviewed: From £475 (single) | Check price at Nectar

Nectar memory foam mattress on an upholstered bed frame in a bedroom

Great for… the indecisive
Not so great for… heavier sleepers

Whether you have a bad back or not, it’s difficult to know whether a mattress is the right one for you until you’ve had a good chance to test it out. Thankfully, you can do that with the Nectar mattress for up to 365 nights and still receive a full refund if there’s anything you don’t like. In other words, it comes with a year-long risk-free trial.

Nevertheless, we found the brand’s memory foam mattress very supportive without ever feeling too hard, as can be the case with some orthopaedic mattresses. It is prone to softening a little as it warms up, but this isn’t unusual for memory-foam models. As you might expect, there’s a bit of a premium for choosing a mattress with such an impressive returns policy, but if you get your timing right, it’s possible to save as much as 45% on the asking price and even get some free gifts thrown in.

Read our full Nectar memory foam mattress review 

Key features
TypeThree-layer (bottom layer 160mm seven-zone supportive foam; middle layer 50mm soft “visco” memory foam; top layer 40mm breathable “visco” foam)
Needs turning?Unspecified
SizesSingle to super-king
Warranty365-night trial, forever warranty
Check price at Nectar

2. Simba Hybrid Pro: Best all-round hybrid mattress

Price when reviewed: From £899 (single) | Check price at Simba

Simba Hybrid Pro mattress floating on a pink background

Great for… its temperature regulating wool layer
Not so great for… those who want a removable (and washable) top cover

The Simba Hybrid Pro appears on a number of our roundups as one of the best mattresses we’ve ever tested. With a second layer of microsprings over the brand’s regular Hybrid, we found it very comfortable and felt it offered plenty of support, as well as being more breathable. It has a top layer – made from wool for better temperature regulation – which does a great job of getting around the overheating issue commonly associated with memory foam mattresses.

It’s not a cheap option, though, and will set you back £1,279 for a double. However, Simba’s mattresses offer a 200-night trial, with your money back if you’re not pleased with your purchase, and a 10-year guarantee.

Read our full Simba Hybrid Pro review 

Key features
TypeHybrid seven-layer (breathable ‘sleep surface’, wool upper layer, open-cell ‘Simba-Pure’ foam layer, two microspring layers, high-definition ‘Simba-Pure’ with edge support, zoned ‘Simba-Pure’ support base)
Needs turning?Rotate once/month for the first six months; once every 3/6 months thereafter
SizesSingle to super-king
Warranty200-night trial, 10-year guarantee
Check price at Simba

3. Tempur Original Supreme: Best premium memory foam mattress

Price when reviewed: From £1,350 (single) | Check price at Bensons for Beds

Tempur Original Supreme mattress on an upholstered bed frame, in a bedroom

Great for… foam luxury
Not so great for… smaller budgets

While it may stretch your budget (or simply not fit it), if you’re looking for a no-compromise memory foam mattress, there’s really nothing quite like the Tempur Original Supreme. In our experience, the Original Supreme has a truly unique feel that most of its new-age bed-in-a-box rivals can only aspire to. Its upper layers of foam form around your shape, giving relief to your hips and shoulders, while its lower layers provide ample support to your lower back. While it’s not the firmest mattress on our list, the end result is a mattress that delivers a luxurious level of comfort without compromising on support.

Unlike some of its rivals the Tempur doesn’t need flipping or rotating, which is certainly a load off your back. While it’s not quite as generous as the trial periods offered by some of the other mattress brands we’ve reviewed, Tempur allows you 100 nights to make sure it’s right for you before committing to that significant asking price. There’s no denying it’s a considerable investment, but if the Tempur Original Supreme helps you have a great night’s sleep, waking free of aches, then it may very well be an investment worth making.

Read our full Tempur Original Supreme review 

Key features
TypeThree layer (Bottom layer 110mm of Durabase, second layer 80mm of support foam, top layer 20mm Tempur Comfort memory foam)
Needs turning?No
SizesSingle to super-king
Warranty100-night trial, 10-year guarantee
Check price at Bensons for Beds

4. Otty Original Hybrid Mattress: Best firm mattress for bad backs

Price when reviewed: From £530 (single) | Check price at Otty

Otty Original Hybrid mattress on an upholstered bed frame, in a bedroom

Great for… sleepers who prefer a firmer mattress
Not so great for… corner support 

Otty’s bed-in-a-box mattress, which combines foam and pocket springs for the best of both worlds, is firm and cosy, with a warm surface that feels soft against your skin but extremely supportive from top to toe – even if we felt that corner support could be improved.

Here at Expert Reviews, our impressions of the mattress’ warmth vary somewhat. One tester found it perfectly cool in summer, while another found its enveloping nature too warm. If you’re not sure whether memory foam (which often sleeps warmer than natural fillings) is right for you, the 100-night returns policy (they will even come and collect it from your bedroom) very reassuring.

Read our full Otty Original Hybrid review 

Key features
TypeFoam/pocket spring hybrid (50mm high-density foam, 2,000 140mm pocket springs, 30mm reflex foam, 30mm memory foam)
Needs turning?Rotate once/month (for first six months)
Sizes9, from single to emperor (also EU sizes)
Warranty100-night trial, 10-year warranty
Check price at Otty

How to choose the best mattress for a bad back

When it comes to buying the right mattress, there are no hard and fast rules. Shops may try to sell you what manufacturers consider a bad-back mattress, but more depends on you, your body shape, your weight and how you sleep. Then there’s your budget: a good mattress will cost you anywhere between £150 and £1,500 or more, depending on the materials, size and construction.

Is an orthopaedic mattress best for a bad back?

Don’t be fooled by the term orthopaedic (or similar medical-sounding names) as it doesn’t mean the bed has been professionally assessed or recommended – it’s just a name usually used by manufacturers to refer to their firmest mattresses.

And it’s not as if firm mattresses are best for all bad backs anyway. On the contrary, a too-hard mattress can exacerbate problems for some back pain sufferers, Gary Jones, clinic director at PHYSIO 206, told us. “If you’ve got somebody with a more pronounced inward curve in the lower back – what we call an increased lumbar lordosis – putting them on a firmer mattress would potentially increase that lumbar lordosis.”

The opposite is true of those with a very flat, “swayback” posture, however. For these people, a firm mattress can help to put more helpful pressure on the lower back.

So how do I know which level of firmness is right for me?

If you’re waking with neck or back pain, it’s best to get assessed by a qualified medical professional who can establish if your mattress might be a contributing factor. In any case, though, there’s an easy test you can perform to determine if any mattress is suitable for you.

“If you lay flat on a mattress, what you want to feel is an equal amount of pressure through all the following pressure points,” Jones explained. “You want to feel it at the back of your head, behind both shoulder blades, at the back of the elbows, at the base of your bottom and finally at your heels. If you’re sinking more in your feet or hips, or there’s more pressure through your shoulders, that’d suggest it’s not the right mattress for you.”

Naturally, your weight will play a role in how firm a mattress feels: a heavier person puts more pressure on the mattress and so needs a slightly firmer mattress than a light person. Your sleeping position can also be an important factor. If you sleep mostly on your side, you might want to choose something with more cushioning to accommodate your shoulders and hips, while if you sleep in a variety of positions (not uncommon for those with back pain), you should go for a mattress firm enough to provide support but soft enough to contour to your body.

Is a pocket-sprung mattress best for a bad back?

Pocket-sprung mattresses – where the springs are sewn into fabric pockets – have traditionally been considered the crème de la crème of mattresses when it comes to providing support for bad backs. However, there are plenty of memory foam and latex mattresses that’ll do just as good a job. Use the aforementioned principles to check that it delivers the right level of support for you.

What if my sleeping partner doesn’t have a bad back?

Consider a zip and link bed, which comprises of two single mattresses zipped together. Or invest in a mattress that’s firmer on one side than the other without a zip in the middle. These are more expensive, but also comfier.

How much should I spend?

While some mattresses can set you back thousands, our roundup reveals that you don’t have to fork out silly sums to get a decent one for a bad back. In fact, the increasingly popular bed-in-a-box mattresses that are only available online are surprisingly low-cost for their quality. But don’t choose your mattress on the price tag alone; if it doesn’t suit your size, shape and sleeping style, you’ll find your back might become more painful in the morning.

Should I try before I buy?

Yes. If you’re going to a showroom, it’s a great idea to try a few out. Just take your time to establish if the mattress is suitable for you using the principles outlined above. If there isn’t a showroom nearby, most bed-in-a-box companies – including Casper, Eve and Otty – offer a 100-night trial so you can return the mattress if it isn’t right for you.

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