T Nation

Bad Mattress = Bad Back?

Just like the title says. My mattress is on its way out, which seems to correspond with a resurgence of back pain I have been having. At times it can be sciatic and right leg radiating, other times its just an achy, lower back stifness. My chiro says I have excessive lordosis, but while his adjustments seem to bring temporary relief, I’m not 100% that what hes telling me is more than a canned line. I have always practiced good form when lifting. No one particular exercise seems to cause me trouble, and I cant think of an acute moment that brings on the episodes.

I can however say that It’s always worse in the AM when I wake up. Should I ask for an MRI just to be sure, or is it wishful thinking that a new mattress will solve my problems. The episodes seem to be more and more frequent lately and I want to squash this before it becomes an issue that completely sidelines my training. THanks in advance for any help.

How old is your mattress? Did you try rotating/flipping it every few months or so? Older mattresses suck for the back, yes.

Also are your shoes more than 3 months old? If so, you might want to consider getting a new pair.

Not to be confused with qualified medical advice here…

I used to have quite a bit of back pain sleeping on like a 20 year old hand me down mattress. When I bought a new mattrees…Voila…no more chronic pain.

Thanks for the replys. This isn’t an old mattress though. Maybe 6-7 years tops. It definitley has limited support at this point tho. Way too soft. I just hope replacing it will change my situation. Should I eliminate spinal loading exercises until I can assess the effect of a different mattress? Im sure I can design a routine that will be at least passable in the interm.

As non-hardcore as it sounds I would be ok omitting these if they exacerbate the situation, even with good form. I turned 30 this year and at this point I would be absolutely ok maintaining the status quo if it meant training injury free.

can you rest in a full squat position?

[quote]rander wrote:
can you rest in a full squat position?[/quote]

Yes, but If I’m having a particularly bad episode the pain will show up then, but not unbearably. But if im feeling 100% I have no problem in a full squat, loaded or unloaded.

Can you wiggle your toes on a full squat, and sit there farely(sp?) comfortably(not straining)? A “third world squat” or “chinamen squat”. if you have those problems it may not be your bed but a lack of hip mobility thats causeing the problem which is cheaper to treat and not to tough.

I sell mattresses for a living. First off soft does not equal little support. There’s many plush mattresses available today with tons of support. Out of the brands I’m aware of Sealy seems to have the best reputation for support. I would stick with a Sealy Posturepedic myself and not neccessarily going to the “Crown Jewel” line. However the best advice I could give you is to try some mattresses out and see what you prefer the best.

try sleeping on the floor. you might not like it, but my back pain went away after the 2nd night.

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If you have sciatica (and you probably do have that or some other nerve issue if pain radiates to your legs), I’d advice you to be careful about sleeping on the floor or a mattress that’s too hard. Especially if you like to sleep lying on your back. It seems to put pressure on some problem areas, at least it does for me when I lie down on my rock hard futon. Even when I sleep on my side I’m stiff as a board when I wake up, but it goes away as I move around a little.

Others say their backs feel great sleeping on hard futons, but none of them have sciatica (I asked), so it might be great if you’re not bothered with sciatica. These are my experiences though, and not medical advice, but be careful of you might end up bedridden in extreme pain for a week or two. Been there, done that. Thrice. Not recommended…

ABSOLUTELY. I just got rid of a 15 year old mattress that was pretty much shot. I like a firmer mattress and this thing actually sagged in the middle, no matter how much I flipped or rotated it. Over the last 5 months my middle back has been constantly sore, and it hurt worse when I was in bed. I had actually taken to sleeping on my hardwood floor over the last month or so. I got a new mattress, and every day for the last week my back is feeling better and better. People don’t think much about their mattress, but you spend about 40% of your life on it, so it’s worth the price of a new one

Thanks for all replys, and Bushy for the suggested link. I just checked it out. Again any recommendations about omitting loaded spine exercises until I get this sorted out? ie, squats/deads/overhead pressing. My mattress sags in the middle also. Fuck it Im gonna spring for a new one ASAP. Gonna try to get opinions/research on the memory foam, I’ve found some sites that seem reasonable, ie 600 or so for a queen. Hopefully it makes a difference. I keep having visions of being ‘that guy’ with the back and all. If it dosent I’ll revisit this thread and give a heads up.

hey there,

I have had issues with sciatica and the lower back for 5 years now.

I’ve stopped back squats and barbell deadlifting -basically any exercise that puts my back in a precarious position. For example, I now only Front Squat.

First, I’ve used a Chiro but they are only going to treat the symptoms, not the underlying cause. You will have to take control of your situation.

What I did was purchase Magnificent Mobility, and searched on this site for all articles on lower back issues and tried to put the concepts in practice. Why try to recreate the wheel, try to learn from others.

Good luck!

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[quote]ghost87 wrote:
and searched on this site for all articles on lower back issues and tried to put the concepts in practice. Why try to recreate the wheel, try to learn from others.

Good luck! [/quote]

thanks man, I’m in the process of that now. I checked out a bunch of articles, and am just trying to incorporate tips etc slowly. Bushy thanks again for the responses. I trained tonight and just modified my TBT routine to eliminate loaded spine entirely for now. Ive been home for an hour and no pain, spasms etc.

One of my problems that I think contributed is I always did a squat/dl variation every TBT session 3-4x a week. Thats great and hardcore and all that, but its taxing regardless of perfect form IMO. I really need to dig into some of these articles more, as I usually just zone out halfway thru the articles with the fancy anatomy stuff and eventually wind up at the ass worship thread.

I spent over a grand on my bed and it sags in the middle and makes my back feel like shit. Spent 150 for my daughters first “big girl” bed and it is fantastic for my back.

So its not that people are stupid…they just don’t know whether or not they are getting hosed for an expensive brand name…they ALL feel okay when lying down at the freaking mall.

Be aware that there are very different qualities of memory foam if you’re going to get some. Ask for the density, the higher the number the better. I would personally get something that is a spring inner-core with some memory foam on top and then make sure there is either some latex foam or another breathable material above the memory foam. Memory foam is heat activated and therefore it dosen’t breathe very well. If you are a hot sleeper especially keep this in mind.

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