Orthopedic Mattress Materials – A Detailed Guide with Tips/Tricks
Orthopedic mattresses are mattresses that are essentially designed to provide extra back and joint support. They also provide a more firm surface to sleep on and were first developed by manufacturers in the 1950s when the benefits of orthopedic support were discovered. Traditionally, orthopedic mattresses have been used by people suffering from back and joint pain. In this article, we will discuss different orthopedic mattress materials so you can choose the right kind of mattress for your needs.
Orthopedic mattress materials are the same as those used in traditional mattresses. However, they are molded into shapes to provide extra spine and joint support. Choose a softer orthopedic mattress made of memory foam for extra cushioning or choose latex or innerspring orthopedic mattress for firm support.
What Makes A Mattress Orthopedic?
An orthopedic mattress is a mattress that can be used to alleviate and prevent back and joint pain, by providing a more firm and supportive surface to sleep on.
For a mattress to be considered orthopedic, it must distribute body weight evenly to prevent pressure build up throughout the body particularly the back, neck, and hips. Use an orthopedic mattress to alleviate or prevent spine misalignment and joint pain.
It is important to maintain spinal alignment as discussed in this article from Homewood Chiropractic. An orthopedic mattress like this should do exactly that as well as fulfill other specific requirements as explained in detail in this article by mattress online, a mattress retailed in the UK. Moreover, it should be made from the specific materials that are discussed below.
Make sure to check out our related article that includes tips for choosing an orthopedic mattress for sciatica pain for more information too. Additionally, you might be interested in learning how to choose an orthopedic mattress for an adjustable bed. Be sure to check that article out as well.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Orthopedic Mattresses
As with most things, there are pros and cons to using an orthopedic mattress. Firstly, since it distributes the body’s weight evenly, no particular part of the body is left to bear the brunt of the weight, significantly reducing the likelihood of having aches and pains.
The pros of using orthopedic mattresses are their equal weight distribution, superior comfort, and support. The cons of using orthopedic mattresses are that a person can become too dependant on a particular mattress, they are more expensive, and it can be difficult to differentiate between an orthopedic and an ordinary mattress.
The type of material that you should choose really depends on whether you need back or joint support. For example, memory foam would provide excellent cushioning for your back but would not really provide much joint support. Take a look at our article that discusses choosing between and air bed vs. a memory foam mattress to find out more about memory foam.
Orthopedic mattresses like these come in several sizes now so it is easier to find one that fits onto any kind of bed. However, over time a person’s dependence on these mattresses could increase and orthopedic mattresses tend to be more expensive when compared to regular mattresses. Also, it is quite difficult to differentiate between an orthopedic mattress and a regular one.
The differences between orthopedic mattress and regular mattresses are subtle. And there is almost no difference between orthopedic mattress materials and those used in other mattress types.
If you're interested in learning more about different kinds of mattresses, be sure to take a look at air mattresses. Although unconventional, air beds can be used in place of traditional mattresses in your home. Be sure to take a look at these 10 ways to lift an air bed off the floor for more information.
What Is An Orthopedic Mattress Made Of?
The three types of orthopedic mattress materials are typically memory foam, latex, and innerspring. Innerspring is the hardest option, offering the most support, and memory foam is the softest, offering the most cushioning.
Orthopedic mattress materials include memory foam, latex or innerspring. Memory foam is the most commonly used material because it is softer, molds to the shape of the body and keeps that shape. For an orthopedic mattress that is firmer, choose one made from latex. For an orthopedic mattress that is more supportive and easy to move around on, choose an innerspring mattress.
Most orthopedic mattresses are made of memory foam (like these ones) because of the fact that it molds to the shape of the body and, as the name “memory foam” implies, remembers your position for when you lie on it again.
Sometimes it is difficult to get in and out of memory foam mattresses since they mold to the shape of the body. You might consider raising the height of a memory foam mattress in these situations to make it slightly easier to get out of bed.
Here is a closer look at the different materials used in the production of orthopedic mattresses:
1. Memory Foam
This is the most common type of material used as it offers both comfort and relief by distributing the weight of the body evenly over the mattress providing support and relief for the whole body. However, for a memory foam mattress to be orthopedic like this, it needs to be equally firm and soft, as too much of either would be detrimental.
Typically, orthopedic memory foam mattresses are firmer at the top, the bottom, and in the middle. This is why memory foam is more beneficial for people suffering from back pain since the firm part in the middle provides the right kind of support and helps to keep the spine properly aligned. Read our article that explains how long it takes for a memory foam mattress to expand, to find out more about using memory foam mattresses.
An orthopedic mattress made of latex like this one, is suitable for people looking for more firm and rigid support, and who are possibly suffering from arthritis or neck pain. The firmness is the same over the whole mattress and does not provide much cushioning or softness. This means more rigid support for the neck, back, and hips, and will also relieve back pain to some extent. However, these mattresses are often quite expensive.
In this article from the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, it was noted that neck pillows with sufficient height and firmness layers provided the best pain relief for hospitalized patients. Latex is provides a great balance between firmness and softness.
Innerspring orthopedic mattresses are commonly used by two sleepers who both suffer from back pain as they can provide relief and proper support without molding to the shape of the body (or two bodies). To some extent, innerspring mattresses provide even distribution of body weight over the surface so that no particular part of the body will be painful in the morning.
Besides providing support for the back, neck and other joints, the firmness allows the sleeper to move around more easily than on a soft mattress. However, they can be expensive and hard to maintain.
Here we compare the benefits of using orthopedic mattresses made of different materials:
|Orthopedic Mattress Material||Pros||Cons||Example from Amazon|
|Memory Foam||Provides a lot of cushioning||Can be too soft||Sweetnight 10 inch Gel Memory Foam Mattress~$425|
|Latex||Provides firm support and can alleviate neck pain||Expensive||Apricot Plush King Natural Mattress/10.5” Hybrid Latex/Organic Cotton~$480|
|Innerspring||Provides firm support and is easy to move around on||Can be a bit hard and is less durable||Best Price Mattress 8 Inch Tight Top Innerspring Mattress~$185|
Make sure you also take a look at our related guide to orthopedic mattress sizes. This article can help you find the right size mattress for your needs. Additionally, our orthopedic mattress price guide can help you find a new mattress that fits your budget too.
Is An Orthopedic Mattress Hard?
An orthopedic mattress is typically more firm when compared to a regular mattress. This is because the memory foam, latex, and innerspring designs provide support.
Orthopedic mattresses tend to be more firm than regular mattresses and are shaped to provide even support across the entire body.
However, for an orthopedic mattress to be truly useful, it needs to have the right combination of firmness and softness like this one. If it is too firm or hard, it will be uncomfortable and actually be harmful for your back. If this is the case check out our tips and tricks on how to use a mattress topper to soften your bed.
If you want your mattress to be firmer, you would be better off using an innerspring mattress like this or a latex mattress like this, for extra firm support. If your orthopedic mattress is too soft then read our article on how to use a mattress pad to make your mattress firmer.
Tips to Make an Orthopedic Mattress Softer
Tip 1. Reduce the Firmness of a Memory Foam Orthopedic Mattress By Applying Constant Pressure
Applying controlled pressure to the mattress by pushing onto the surface of the mattress with your hands, can help to reduce the firmness of the mattress.
Tip 2. Use Heat to Increase the Softness of a Memory Foam Orthopedic Mattress.
Heat is known to generally wear down any mattress so applying a heating pad like this or simply heating the mattress itself can help make it softer. Note that this trick won’t work well with innerspring mattresses.
Tip. 3. Choose a Larger and Thicker Orthopedic Mattress To Increase Softness
It is possible to be selective when choosing the thickness and density of the different layers of materials used to make the mattress. As long as the latex section is thinner, as with this mattress, it will be softer. For example, if you have decided on a memory foam orthopedic mattress, choose one with a layer of latex that is under two inches thick and your mattress will be softer.
Tip 4. Use a Mattress Topper To Fine-Tune the Feel of an Orthopedic Mattress
Mattress toppers provide extra comfort and softness. Use a mattress topper like this over your orthopedic mattress to add extra softness and comfort. Read our guide on how to choose the right mattress topper density to know what to look for.