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The Best Extra Firm Mattress Toppers for Back Pain

If you find it hard to get to sleep due to back pain or wake up every morning feeling sore, you’re not the only one. The CDC reports that chronic back pain affects about 20% of U.S. adults. Unfortunately, when back pain impacts your sleep, it can lead to other negative consequences, including poor mental health and lack of energy.

While there are many possible causes of back pain, bad mattresses are a common contributor. If your mattress isn’t supporting your properly while you sleep, it can cause discomfort or accentuate pain from other back issues. To relieve back pain, you need a mattress that will support your body properly to allow you to maintain good sleep posture and proper spinal alignment.

If your mattress is contributing to your back pain, it’s essential to find a solution to keep things from getting worse. Fortunately, there is an inexpensive alternative to buying a new mattress: a mattress topper. For many people with back pain, an extra firm topper is best because it provides adequate support to the entire neck, spine, and pelvis.

How does an extra firm mattress topper reduce back pain?

back pain while sleeping

If your mattress is causing or worsening your back pain, there are several ways that a mattress topper can help. For many people, back pain happens when a mattress is too soft to provide adequate support. Without proper support, your spine tends to move into uncomfortable curves when you’re lying on your side, back, or stomach. This misalignment can cause tension in the muscles and put pressure on the nerves around your spinal discs.

While it may seem like the best way to get better support is to buy a super firm mattress, this can lead to back problems too. When the sleeping surface is too hard, it can create painful pressure points in the back, shoulders, and hips. A too-firm mattress can also cause spinal misalignment because it doesn’t allow the hips and shoulders to sink down low enough to maintain proper spinal curvature.

An extra firm mattress topper can be the ideal middle-ground solution. This type of mattress topper is designed to be firm enough to connect with and support all parts of the spine but soft enough to eliminate pressure points. Generally, extra firm toppers are best for back or stomach sleepers. Side sleepers may want to look for toppers that are listed as “medium firm.”

Our Pick for the Six Best Extra Firm Mattress Toppers For Back Pain

There are countless extra firm mattress toppers on the market, so how do you choose the right one? We’ve researched the available products and read mattress topper reviews to help you choose the best firm mattress topper.

1. COMFORT BOOST Mattress Topper

The COMFORT BOOST mattress topper is a super fluffy duvet-style topper that’s 2 inches thick. It’s overstuffed with a synthetic down alternative, so this topper provides firm support that’s also very cozy. The topper has an adjustable deep pocket design that keeps it in place on mattresses up to 21 inches thick. The cooling effect of its breathable 400 thread count cotton top layer makes this topper perfect even for hot sleepers.

COMFORT BOOST Mattress Topper
Why We Love It:
  • Great balance between cozy filling and cool fabric
  • Easy to clean in a washing machine
  • Baffle stitching keeps the filling in place
Cons
  • Might not fit in a household dryer
  • Standard fitted sheets may not fit over the topper and a tall mattress

Bottom Line: With a cooling cotton cover and stay-in-place adjustable pocket, this overstuffed down alternative mattress topper provides firm support and plush, cloud-like comfort.

2. ViscoSoft Select High-Density Memory Foam Mattress Topper

This 3-inch tall mattress topper from ViscoSoft is made of high-density memory foam for excellent support and even weight distribution that prevents uncomfortable sinking. Its ventilated, gel-infused core and breathable mesh cover prevent it from trapping body heat, so it’s a great choice for all climates.

ViscoSoft Select High-Density Memory Foam Mattress Topper
Why We Love It:
  • Adjustable elastic straps that attach to the mattress
  • Removable, machine-washable cover
  • 3-year warranty
Cons
  • May be too firm for side sleepers
  • Some reviews mention a strong chemical odor

Bottom Line: With several cooling features, this high-density memory foam topper offers great support and comfort even for those who sleep hot.

3. Sleep Innovations Dual-Layer Gel Memory Foam Mattress Topper

This unique mattress topper is 4 inches tall and split into two layers for a comfortable blend of softness and support. The bottom layer is made of memory foam infused with cooling gel, and the top layer is a quilted pillow top with synthetic filling.

Sleep Innovations Dual-Layer Gel Memory Foam Mattress Topper
Why We Love It:
  • Made in the USA
  • Certified hypoallergenic memory foam
  • Pillow top cover is machine-washable
Cons
  • May not provide enough support on a very soft mattress
  • Reviews mention “craters” developing in the foam

Bottom Line: For sleepers who want both the coziness of a plush topper and the support of dense memory foam, this two-layer mattress topper offers a great solution at a good price.

4. BedStory 4-Inch Mattress Topper

Featuring two different layers of memory foam inside a removable and washable cover, this mattress topper gets rid of pressure points and provides support for good sleep posture. The hypoallergenic cover surrounds a 2-inch layer of cooling gel-infused memory foam on top of a 2-inch bottom layer of high-density pure memory foam.

BedStory 4-Inch Mattress Topper
Why We Love It:
  • Washable, hypoallergenic cover
  • Good for hot sleepers
  • Anti-slip mesh and elastic straps keep it in place
Cons
  • Strong chemical off-gassing smell
  • Some reviews mention durability issues

Bottom Line: A thick topper with two layers of memory foam and a washable cover, this option works well for back or side sleepers who want firm support and easy maintenance.

5. Linenspa Gel-Infused Memory Foam Mattress Topper

Made of pure memory foam infused with cooling gel beads, this 3-inch mattress topper offers comfortable support at an affordable price. This simple topper provides an extra layer of soft support to any mattress, improving comfort and extending durability.

Linenspa Gel-Infused Memory Foam Mattress Topper
Why We Love It:
  • 3-year warranty
  • Low price
  • Breathable open-cell memory foam with cooling gel
Cons
  • No way to clean it
  • May not be as durable as higher-priced options

Bottom Line: With an affordable price tag and cooling gel, this memory foam topper is a great way to add contoured support to a too-firm bed, relieving pressure points that cause back pain.

How To Choose An Extra Firm Mattress Topper For Back Pain

extra thick mattress topper

There are lots of extra firm mattress toppers on the market, so it’s essential to figure out which features are most important to you. Your preferred sleeping position can affect your decision, as can your desired effect. Are you trying to add more support to a soft mattress? Do you want to feel like you are surrounded by a fluffy blanket? It’s also essential to think about how to reduce heat retention if you tend to sleep hot.

What To Consider When Buying An Extra Firm Mattress Topper For Back Pain

When you’re looking for an extra firm mattress topper, there are several important factors to consider. Here are some of the top factors to think about when you’re making your decision.

Density

Denser materials provide more support, so if you want an extra firm mattress topper, look for high-density latex or memory foam. Duvet-style toppers filled with down or synthetic down can also be extra firm if they are “overstuffed.”

Thickness

Most extra firm mattress toppers are a few inches thick. Generally, thicker mattress toppers create a hug-like feeling as you sink down into them, while thinner toppers may sleep a little cooler. Mattress toppers under 3 inches thick are not ideal for taller or heavier individuals.

Firmness

Extra firm mattress toppers are usually best for people who sleep on their backs or stomachs. However, there is still some variation in what “extra firm” means. Side sleepers may want to look for a medium-firm mattress topper.

Motion Transfer

Most mattresses, especially those with springs, tend to transfer motion easily. Sharing a bed with a partner can disrupt your sleep if you wake up every time they get up or roll over. Materials like latex and memory foam tend to absorb kinetic energy and dampen motion transfer.

Heat Retention

All mattress toppers retain body heat to some extent, but some materials and styles sleep hotter than others. If you are a naturally hot sleeper, you may want to look for an extra firm mattress topper that is on the thinner side – the more you can sink down into it, the more your body heat gets trapped around you. Breathable covers, ventilation airways, and cooling gel are other features that can help reduce heat retention.

Types Of Extra Firm Mattress Toppers For Back Pain

You can find several different types of mattress toppers, but most extra firm varieties are made of memory foam, latex, or down/down alternatives.

Natural Latex

Latex is made from rubbery compounds that occur naturally. This material can create a comfortable and supportive surface that reduces pressure points by adapting to even slight changes of position. There are many different styles and firmness levels of latex, but all of them do a good job of providing adequate back support for a comfortable sleep. The biggest downside of a latex mattress topper is that some people are allergic to it.

Memory Foam

Memory foam is a synthetic material that was originally invented for NASA to help cushion passengers during plane crashes. Nowadays, however, it’s mostly used in mattresses, pillows, and mattress toppers. As the name implies, memory foam adapts to pressure and then slowly returns to its original shape. This means that memory foam toppers will contour around your body, providing a customized level of support.

Down and Synthetic Down Alternatives

Some mattress toppers are similar to traditional comforters or duvets. These styles usually have a fabric cover that’s filled with down and quilted in a baffle design to keep the filling in place. Though down toppers can be soft pillow top styles, they can also provide firm support depending on the density of the filling. While down from waterfowl is the traditional filling, you can also find synthetic alternatives.

Why Choose an Extra Firm Mattress Topper Instead of Buying a New Mattress?

Mattresses are expensive, which is why an extra firm mattress topper is a more cost-effective solution than a brand new mattress. Not only do you save money, but also ensure you’re creating a solution to the problem. 

Just laying on a mattress once or twice makes it challenging to know how a new mattress will affect your sleep. When shopping for a new mattress, you don’t really have the luxury of trying them all out before making a decision, so it’s impossible to know whether or not this new mattress will help ease your back pain. 

Purchasing a mattress topper instead of a new mattress is a more effective way to enhance your sleep without the trouble of mattress shopping. 

Mattress toppers are also a great option because you can easily replace them if the firmness is not up to par with your needs or feels worn out. 

On the other hand, replacing an entire mattress is more difficult than a mattress topper.

How Do You Know When It’s Time To Replace Your Mattress Topper?

Like anything else, a mattress topper will get old and worn out after long-term use. Therefore, it’s important to know when and how to replace your mattress topper as it begins to wear out. 

It’s time to replace the mattress topper if it begins to lose its firmness. As you lay on the mattress topper night after night, the bouncy nature of the mattress topper will eventually begin to wear thin. When this happens, you know it is soon time to get a new one. 

You will also want to replace it if it begins to feel flat. Some mattress toppers are made with memory foam, and when memory foam starts to fall flat, it is time to replace it. Flat memory foam is no better than just sleeping on the mattress itself without a topper, so be sure to replace the mattress topper if you notice this is happening. 

How To Replace a Mattress Topper

When you start noticing your mattress topper wearing out, the next step is to buy a new one and replace it. Replacing a mattress topper is easy and shouldn’t require more than one or two people to do it. 

Steps To Replace a Mattress Topper:

  1. Carefully remove the mattress topper from its packaging.
  2. Hand wash the mattress topper in cold water and hang it out to air dry; never put a mattress topper in the dryer as this can damage its internal parts. 
  3. After the mattress topper is clean and dry, you can remove the old topper and replace it with the new one. 
  4. Simply tuck each edge of the mattress topper between the mattress and the box spring and pull tight until it is firmly in place. 
  5. Flatten out any wrinkles or folded cloth that may be present. 

Other Benefits to Using an Extra-Firm Mattress Topper

It’s evident that using an extra firm mattress topper is an excellent solution to back pain, but what are some other benefits of using a mattress topper?

A mattress topper will help preserve your mattress longer, add additional support for your joints, and is much more cost-efficient than purchasing a new mattress. 

Preserve Your Mattress Longer

Adding a mattress topper to your bed will help to preserve your mattress longer. Since your body weight is directly on the mattress topper instead of the actual mattress, the springs in the mattress (or foam) will have a much longer lifespan. Not only will this save you money, but it will also save you the hassle of having to shop for a new mattress every few years. 

Additional Joint Support

An extra firm mattress topper is great for your back, but don’t forget all the other body parts it can help support. For example, your knees, hips, and neck are all pressure points when you sleep, so having this additional support will also help reduce pain and stiffness in these areas. 

Cost-Efficient

Since a mattress topper is easy to replace and much cheaper than purchasing a new mattress, it’s apparent that this option is much more cost-efficient than replacing mattresses every few years. So save yourself the money and time of buying a new mattress, and instead try a mattress topper.

Commonly Asked Questions About Extra Firm Mattress Toppers And Back Pain

Wondering about back pain and mattress toppers? Here are some answers to the most common questions.

What is a mattress topper?

A mattress topper is not usually the same as a mattress pad. Most mattress pads are thin coverings designed to keep a mattress clean, but a mattress topper is usually about 3 inches thick. Mattress toppers actually change the feel of the sleeping surface. A soft mattress topper can reduce pressure points from a too-firm mattress. If your mattress isn’t providing enough support, you should look for a firm topper.

What is the best extra firm mattress topper for back pain?

The best mattress topper for you will depend on many factors: your preferred sleeping position, your desired level of firmness, and which material you like best. Before choosing a mattress topper, be sure to consider thickness, heat retention, and motion transfer. Generally, side sleepers will need a softer mattress topper than those who sleep on their backs.

Will an extra firm mattress topper help with back pain?

There is a good chance that an extra firm mattress topper will help with back pain, especially if your discomfort is caused by a mattress that is too soft. Even firm mattresses become less supportive over time. If your mattress isn’t giving you enough support, getting an extra firm topper can be an easy and cost-effective solution.

Do I need a new mattress for my back pain?

A bad mattress can cause back discomfort or exacerbate the pain from an existing injury or illness. However, buying a new mattress may not always be financially viable. The right mattress topper can modify your current bed to provide more support or softness to create a better sleeping environment. If your mattress is several decades old, however, it may be time to invest in a new one.

Are soft, firm, or extra-firm mattress toppers better for back pain?

The answer depends on the cause of your back pain. If your pain is caused by pressure points or improper spinal alignment due to a mattress that is too firm, the best solution would be a soft topper. If your mattress is so soft that it doesn’t support your body enough for good sleeping posture, you should look for a firm topper. Extra firm mattress toppers are usually best for people who sleep on their back or stomach.

Can a mattress cause or worsen back pain?

Yes! Most people spend approximately one-third of every day lying in bed. Spending that much time on a mattress that’s too soft or firm can cause back pain from pressure points and spinal misalignment.

What causes back pain while sleeping?

While some types of back pain are from an uncomfortable mattress, there are other possible causes. Your back may be sore from lifting or twisting improperly. Arthritis, sciatica, and disc degeneration are other common causes of back pain.

What else can I do to help reduce back pain at night?

If your back pain is from an injury or illness, getting a new mattress or mattress topper may not be enough. Over-the-counter pain relievers can help reduce discomfort during sleep. You may also try some physical therapy exercises to strengthen your back muscles and improve your posture. Improving your core strength and lowering stress can also help reduce nighttime back pain.