Bad backs are a pain. Spinal issues are hugely widespread, so it's no wonder we're so interested in the back and its business. And it's not just everyday folk. The world of pop stars is no different, with Sir Mixalot forever going about his baby's back, and The Beatles giving us a fascinating snapshot of spinal treatment in the Soviet era with Back in the USSR.
But enough of such nonsense. What we're here to discuss is what makes an orthopaedic mattress so, well, orthopaedic. Why do sleep experts rate them? We'll look at what they are, what they can do for you, your back and sleep, and see what options are available.
What does orthopaedic mattress mean?
Let's start by getting classical. Ortho comes from the Greek orthos for straight, and paedic comes from the Greek pais, meaning child. So, it would seem that orthopaedics is the practice of straightening out children. So much for Greek.
OK, orthopaedics actually refers to the treatment and care of bone and joint concerns. So, an orthopaedic mattress is a mattress that has been made with bones in mind. Backbones, yes, but also we're talking about your neck, shoulders, hips and legs (you can read those to yourself to the tune of head, shoulder, knees and toes if you like).
An orthopaedic mattress will help alleviate pain in any of these bones and joints. How does it do this? Is it made according to a strict medical prescription? Are doctors involved in the manufacture of orthopaedic mattresses? Will orthopaedic mattresses actually help? The answers to these questions are no, not always, and yes, usually.
There might not be any actual concrete medical standards applied to orthopaedic mattresses, but this shouldn't be a concern as long as you're purchasing from a reputable merchant.
How firm should you go?
What a good orthopaedic mattress will give you is firmness of support. Often this is from a sprung construction, but increasingly, it can involve memory foam too.
In the past, it was felt that a bad back would benefit from a softer mattress. This was swiftly discounted, as countless historical sufferers will attest.
Things then swung the other way, and it was widely declared that a firm feel was what was required. In fact, the firmer support, the better, so that some avowed the benefits of sleeping on a plank.
As ever in life, the truth lies somewhere in the middle, with a leaning towards a firmer feel. But you don't want firmness at the expense of comfort.
Why choose an ortho mattress?
A mattress needs to enable your weight to be evenly distributed, with pressure points cushioned and spinal alignment nurtured. A healthy sleeping posture should be guaranteed for side sleepers and back sleepers. Or even front sleepers.
The benefits of this are many, with both short and long-term results. Firstly, an ortho mattress gives you a better night's sleep. The best orthopaedic mattress will relieve the aches and pains that you may have experienced previously, and seriously sound snoozing will result.
It's easy to downplay the benefits of a good night's sleep. But we really shouldn't discount what it can do for you. It can improve mental performance the following day and give you more stamina. It boosts mental wellbeing too.
What else can orthopaedic mattresses do for you?
Some bone and joint conditions give the sufferer such discomfort that they end up compensating by over-using other parts of their body when engaged in certain activities, resulting in problems there too. It's similar with sleep.
If you suffer from say, painful pressure points in your right shoulder, this can lead you to favour the left-hand side when you sleep. And the person who always sleeps on one side will subject their physique to asymmetric pressure from their body weight. This can be especially significant for heavier or larger people.
So, an orthopaedic mattress can assist in enabling your body to cope with any back pain or other aches, both short-term and long-term.
What kinds of orthopaedic mattresses are available?
So, as mentioned, it's firmness that we want to see here. Cloud-like mattresses may be great for some people, but if you suffer from back pain, muscle soreness or joint pain, you'll be far better off on at least a medium-firm mattress. Medium orthopaedic mattresses are a good halfway point between the average bed and what, for some, might be too firm.
The Benson's orthopaedic mattress range includes the Silentnight Backcare Firm Mattress. It's a comfortable mattress that gives medium firm support using 782 individual springs. You don't have to turn it either, which is a relief for those with back pain. It's available in small, small double, double, king size and super king size.
You can up the mattress's firmness if you choose. Benson's range of orthopaedic mattresses includes the extra firm Slumberland Natural Solutions 1400, an orthopaedic pocket sprung mattress offering enhanced levels of support courtesy of quality natural fillings and no fewer than 1400 springs.
A great night's sleep is yours because of the healthy posture your body will be allowed to adopt and the breathable flax material that enables you to regulate a comfortable temperature.
And so to bed
Orthopaedic mattresses can be tremendously helpful. Whether reflex foam or sprung, orthopaedic mattresses can help relieve the most uncomfortable conditions and support your health and well-being.
If you've never tried one before, it's well worth testing out orthopaedic beds next time you're in a Bensons store. You can try a range of mattress brands until you find one with the support you know is right. How will you know? You'll feel it in your bones.