What is an Orthopaedic Mattress? | MattressNextDay

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Orthopaedic Mattress Buying Guide

Orthopaedic Mattress Buying Guide

If you suffer from a bad back, there’s nothing worse than a poor night’s sleep. You want your mattress to provide you with plenty of cushioning to keep away those aches and pains.

An orthopaedic mattress is designed to support the joints and back. It’s also specially created to prevent pressure points from forming by providing tailored support.

What Are Orthopaedic Mattresses?

Orthopaedic mattresses are expertly designed sleeping surfaces which provide a firm base for those requiring some extra support. Alleviating strain on bones, muscles, and joints, orthopaedic mattresses are supportive to parts of the body which are susceptible to pain and tension. They are specially designed to offer firm support where it's needed and spread body weight across the surface area.

Backed by science, they derive from medical studies which focus on spinal and joint disorders. The specialist mattresses for back pain are tailored towards tackling issues which threaten to keep you up at night, offering targeted support to pain points. The firmness of the mattress prevents sagging, protecting your spine against unnatural bending and uncomfortable sleeping positions.

What are the benefits of an orthopaedic mattress?

If you're desperate for a great night's sleep and have back problems, an orthopaedic mattress may be your best choice. Let's get rid of one myth from the outset, though. Orthopaedic mattresses are not necessarily super-firm.

In fact, a medium to firm mattress option gives you a high level of support and a softer feel. If you want something a little more 'snuggly', then try adding a mattress topper. The main benefits of choosing an orthopaedic mattress include:

  • Getting rid of body pain – orthopaedic mattresses are designed to help improve your posture when you sleep. That allows the muscles to relax properly, preventing aches and pains.
  • Keeping your spine aligned – this is the secret to getting rid of back pain. If your spine is in a ‘neutral’ position (so aligned rather than curved), it helps get rid of pain.
  • Stops pressure points from forming – you are vulnerable to pain at key points, including the neck, shoulders, lower back and hips. You can avoid these pressure points by using an orthopaedic mattress.
  • Stops roll-together – unless you want to snuggle with your partner, roll-together can ruin a good night's sleep. A firm mattress prevents this from happening, so you both get the rest you need.
  • No movement transference – with a firm mattress you cut down on movement transference. So if one partner wriggles about, it won't disturb the other person's sleep.
  • Ideal for front sleepers – if you do sleep on your front, a firmer mattress will prevent your spine from curving. This should give you a better night’s sleep and less back pain. Read even more on our best mattresses for stomach sleepers.

What does an orthopaedic mattress do?

The fundamental job of an orthopaedic mattress is to provide support and pressure relief. It should also align your spine correctly. This prevents joints from becoming stiff or painful. However, to do this job properly, the mattress has to have a certain amount of "give" in it. So choosing an extra-firm mattress is not always the best option.

Ideally, an orthopaedic mattress has 'zones' where the support varies from softer to firmer. It should be softer at the head and foot and firmer in the middle. This will support the spine's natural curve, especially if you sleep on your side.

How do I know if I need an orthopaedic mattress?

For most people, a standard mattress with medium firmness is perfectly comfortable. It should give you plenty of support for years to come. However, if you regularly wake up feeling stiff or suffering from aching joints, your mattress may not be giving you the support you need.

If you suffer from back problems already, then your doctor or physiotherapist may recommend an orthopaedic mattress to provide you with extra cushioning. And if you have arthritis or have a neck problem, a soft mattress may let you down and cause more problems.

Good indicators that you need to invest in an orthopaedic option include waking up feeling tired. If you’re restless and constantly changing position all night, that could mean your mattress is letting you down.
A good quality mattress will also help promote healthy blood circulation. This can prevent joints from swelling and becoming painful during the night.

What type of mattresses are available for back pain?

A huge range of mattresses is available for preventing or relieving back pain. The two main types are memory foam and pocket sprung. But you could also choose a Miracoil™ sprung option, a traditional spring version, mattresses with natural fillings, and even ultra-modern Geltex.

Memory foam

Invented by NASA, memory foam has been a real game-changer for mattresses. They tend to range in the medium-firm to the firm range. They provide plenty of cushioning to keep your spine in that all-important neutral position.
We love the MLILY Bamboo Plus Superb Ortho Mattress. This sophisticated and high-quality mattress uses multiple layers of different density foam to give you a great night’s sleep.

Pocket sprung

With thousands of individual springs sitting in their own fabric pockets, pocket sprung mattresses provide incredibly reactive support and flawless comfort. Built up with a pocketed, sprung core and layers of fibres for a cushioned sleeping area, they’re made using traditional techniques like hand tufting to keep the fibres in place and avoid lumps and bumps. The higher the number of springs, the greater the level of support.

The Sleepeezee Cashmere Royale Pocket Mattress is a real favourite with our customers. They love its premium-quality feel and the exceptional support provided by a matrix of 2000 individually pocketed springs.

Traditional sprung

Using a spring matrix rather than pocketed springs, this classic design is also a great budget option. They come as both single and double-sided options and have a strong sprung core that delivers excellent support all night long.

We love the Sealy Support Firm Mattress for its simplicity, quality, and value for money.


Latex mattresses deliver truly outstanding support and naturally contour to the shape of your body. Because latex is naturally hypoallergenic, they're also a good choice for asthma or allergy sufferers. They're durable and represent real value for money.

We particularly like the exclusive Dunlopillo Orchid PLUS Mattress, which has a firm rating and a luxurious feel, complete with a Cool Touch cover.

Reflex foam

Although structurally similar to memory foam, reflex foam is firmer and more supportive. One of the best on offer is the Coolflex Supa Ortho Coolmax. This offers an extra-firm rating and is also hypoallergenic and antibacterial. The Coolmax cover removes moisture from the skin, cooling you down and keeping the mattress fresh and dry.

How Long Do Ortho Mattresses Last?

As a general rule of thumb, ortho mattresses should be replaced after around 7 years of use. As the mattress gets older, the springs and fillings start to deteriorate, reducing the orthopaedic support levels it can provide. This can

Orthopaedic mattresses are just like any other type of mattress. The only difference is that they are designed to provide greater levels of support. Therefore, they should last as long as a regular mattress with no loss of performance.

The average lifespan of a mattress is around eight years. This is when most manufacturers suggest replacing yours to ensure maximum comfort. The best way to prolong the life of any mattress is to keep it in tip-top condition. You can do that by regularly airing your mattress and keeping it as clean as possible. Find out more on how to clean a mattress.

If you have a single-sided mattress, you should rotate it from head to foot every few months. Simply turn your mattress to prevent dips and lumps from forming. If you have a double-sided option, you can rotate 180 degrees and turn it over to the other side to get rid of lumps. It may be a two-person job if the mattress is larger, but it's well worth the effort.

For more advice, check out how to choose a mattress and even the best mattress for back pain!

Author: Lucy

Lucy is a copywriter, trend spotter, and our resident sleep expert! Lucie has been with the team since 2018 and her articles cover a sweeping array of subjects from general product care, the latest bedroom design trends, ways to promote healthier sleep and jargon-busting explanations to help you understand what goes into our products. Do you have questions for Lucy & the team? Call one of our sleep experts today!