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Mattress for a Bad Back

Berkeley Parents Network > Reviews > What/Where to Buy > Mattress for a Bad Back

Need a mattress for lower back problems

Nov 2007

I am looking for a new mattress. Does anyone of any suggestions for a good mattress for someone with lowerback problems. If you know how much it costs and a good place to purchase that would be great, too. Rochelle

I absolutely love my McRoskey bed; check out My chiropractor highly recommended it years ago for my back and I've had NO problems since. McRoskey is a local company with a showroom on Market Street in SF. I just looked at the prices on their website and ó yeow! -- theyíve gotten a lot more expensive than when I bought mine 10 years ago; a queen size mattress and box spring, with a 10-year warranty, now costs $3700.

I also have a guest bed that everyone who sleeps on it adores. Itís a Ther-A-Pedic Medi-Coil 660 Series. In 2002, I bought it fairly new off Craigslist for $200 and itís turned out to be a great deal. I have lots of (paying) guests and everyone always mentions how wonderful the bed is. Many couples have remarked that, for the first time, they don't even notice when their partners turn over. Sweet dreams! Terry

In the Nov 18 Sunday New York Times magazine, there was a really fascinating article whether mattresses and other sleep aids actually improve sleep. The article didn't address the issue of bad back, but there was a lot of information about all the different kinds of mattresses, how they are marketed, and how much of it is actually based in any real science (not much). Apparently, the idea that a hard mattress is best isn't based on anything. It's on the NYT website - Ginger
my chiropractor recommended European Sleepworks'' they are pricey but worth it. sleeping comfortably
my husband convinced me to stop at sleep train on our way into the city to buy a mattress at mckroskey. i have a bad back and was determined that the airflex would be the answer to all of my back issues. we left sleep train having purchased a sleep number bed. (we bought one of the lower end models where the remotes are attached with a cord and without their fancy memory foam, we bought a 'healthier' and cheaper foam layer somewhere else.) (and sleep train is does show up that day to deliver your new mattress and take away your old bed. that was beautiful. we didn't have the new sheets washed yet.)

we are a walking advertisement for the sleep number bed: i am a 35 and my husband is a 90. we have been sleeping on this bed for two and a half years and we never wake up with aches and pains. and we spent half as much as a mckroskey costs.

and - the top of the mattress zips off. so when child gets sick and has an accident through that 'waterproof' mattress pad you invested in to protect your nice new expensive mattress - you can zip off the top of the mattress and wash it. happy sleeper

King-sized mattress for two bad backs

April 2004

Does anyone have a mattress (brand and model) that they really like? We are looking for a king-sized quality mattress that will support two bad backs and will last for many years. Our prior European Sleepworks queen size mattress was fine for about 4 years and then lost its shape and comfort which was very disappointing given how much money we spent on it. What are the pros and cons of foam v. springs? We are worried about spending big bucks on a mattress and then finding out that it doesn't work for us. I have reviewed the prior recommendations about European Sleepworks and Tempurpedic but am interested in other mattresses also. Linda

I bought a Simmons pillow-top mattress at Evolution Furniture (on University Avenue, below Sixth Street in Berkeley), and it is heaven; I have been sleeping wonderfully since I got it a few months ago. I have a frozen shoulder, and it has really helped with the pain. They have several different models you can try out, and excellent prices. I worked with Jenna, a very nice lady. gwyneth
I would recommend McRoskey Airflex Mattress Company in San Francisco. We purchased a new kingsize mattress and boxspring this summer from them and have been very pleased with them. Check out their website at jholter
I have sciatcia and was told by a chiropractor that, no matter the brand, the key is to get the highest number of springs you possibly can. He also specifically mentioned Springwall and King Koil as brands to get but I have had no luck finding either in the Bay Area. If you do find a source for either of these, I'd love to know about it. (Lauren)

How hard a mattress?

July 2003

I've had ongoing mild discomfort in my middle back (not upper, not lower) and I'm wondering if it could be that our mattress is too soft. It's only 7 years old, and I originally pushed for it because it was so pleasantly soft and embracing. Anyone have evidence or personal testimonials (please no hearsay or plain opinion) as to whether a harder mattress would help me?

Old trick -- try cutting a piece of plywood or particleboard (at least 1/2'' thick if it's particleboard) and sticking it between the mattress and the box spring. This firms up your mattress but is reversible if that's not really the problem. It also typically sets you back less than $10, and if your spouse is happy with the bed the way it is, you can plywood just your side. Sara

Buy expensive mattress for aching back?

Jan. 2003

We desperately need to replace our king-size mattress. Actually, I am the one who thinks we need to replace it. My husband has no problem with our mattress, but I wake up with aching hips and back every morning. Our mattress wasn't cheap (it's a top-of-the line Beautyrest) but is now about 10 years old. I'm scared to death of investing in a super-expensive new mattress and finding out it doesn't make a bit of difference to my comfort. I read the rave reviews of European Sleepworks on the website and am wondering if anyone has anything to add about their recent purchase of a high-quality mattress from European Sleepworks or some other high-end mattress manufacturer. I'd especially like to hear about how you decided which mattress was right for you. Somehow buying a mattress is even more daunting to me than buying a new car--at least you can recoup most of your investment if you don't like the car! Maria

We purchased a bed from European Sleepworks about 2 1/2 years ago and it changed our lives! I was waking up with a terrible backache every day and was spending lots of time at the chiropractor. My husband was the one that pushed me to go the European Sleepworks as I was hesitant to spend that much money - it was the best investment that we've made. I can't imagine ever buying another bed that wasn't from European sleepworks. Believe me, the investment is worth it! kristi
Go buy this bed now! We got a European Sleepworks bed about 4 months ago after having little aches and pains each morning and needing a larger bed since our toddler oftens leeps with us . We tried these beds out on our way to Sleep Train to try ''regular'' beds and my daughter actually fell asleep while laying on one in the showroom! The price seemed high so we went to Sleep Train right away to see how they compared. After trying Every mattress in the Sleep Train showroom, the only one that even came anywhere close to feeling as good as the E.S. bed cost over $5,000. We were told we could get a 40% discount but it still would have cost more than the much more comfy bed at E.S. We immediately went to E.S. and ordered the bed. It was about $2100 but oh, so worth it! It took a month to get but was worth the wait. We opted not to get the pillow top but they have told us they will loan us one to try out and see if we want to add it. Haven't tried it yet. 2 neighbors have the bed with the pillow top and love their beds too (bought within last 2 years). No more aches or pains and sleeping away from home makes us long to get home! Well worth the money!!! nicole
My husband & I just bought Tempurpedic mattress at Evolution on University & 5th. It was less expensive than some of the other high-end mattresses (e.g. Duxiana) but we found them to be as if not more comfortable. As far as your big purchase anxiety, they have a money back warranty (90 days, I think) if you are not happy with the purchase. We found the folks at Evolution to be very helpful too. Ilana
In regards to the question of replacing a king size mattress. I was in the same dilemma a few months ago. Instead of replacing the mattress, I invested in (about $200) a 2 inch memory foam overlay. What a difference! No more aching back or tossing and turning. It's generally the same stuff as the expensive high tec sleep foam mattresses. It takes a few weeks for the slight smell to disappear completely (which it did) and for it to tamp down to it final height but it's like having a new bed. I purchased my foam at the Foam Creations Sleep Shop in Albany on Solano Ave. but any good futon/foam store would probably carry it. You may have to buy sheets a bit deeper than before but generally mine still fit. It's a tradeoff but it definitely made a HUGE difference and I'm not spending thousands on a new bed! Good Luck! Heather
I felt like the princess sleeping on the pea for many years until we bought our mattress at McRoskey in San Francisco. McRoskey is a family-owned company that has been making mattresses in San Francisco for over 100 years.

Now I sleep soundly, wake up w/o aches and pains, and family & friends who've stayed over comment on how wonderful the mattress is. We did have to pay more for it, but it really turned out to be worth it. These things last forever.

You can try out the different mattress and box spring combinations and custom order sizes. As it turned out, after I slept on the one we took home, I ended up deciding that I wanted a firmer mattress instead, and there was no trouble exchanging it.

I can't praise them highly enough! Natasha

Just so you know, most major matress manufacturers give you 60- 90 days to decide if you like your mattress or not.

We just bought a Simmons Backcare. It was more than we wanted to spend, but after shopping around nothing else felt as good.

Be sure to stick it out for a few weeks w/ your new mattress, though. Like you, I was having hip problems. At first w/ the new mattress it actually got worse, but after two weeks or so the problem totally cleared up. Feels great now. elisabeth

Buy the good stuff! Because of ongoing back pain, which seems to be getting worse as I age, we splurged and bought a European Sleep Works mattress last year. I can report that although I do still sometimes wake up stiff, I get a vastly better night's sleep than I did on our old, saggy mattress. I justified the expense by reasoning that I shouldn't scrimp on anything I spend half my life doing, such as sleeping. You need a new mattress anyway, why not get the best? At least go try them. Your aching back will thank you. Mom with comfy bed
We recently purchased a king size bed from European Sleepworks in May 2002. I really felt like we went out on a limb purchasing an unconventional bed. I had a lot of misgivings about our purchase, and am not sure I would buy another bed from them again. The reasons are not so much based upon comfort as much as their sales approach, the assistance after the sale was made and some sales claims they made.

First, I am reasonably comfortable when I can get sleep. We have a 3+ year old who doesn't sleep well, an 8 month old who nurses every two hours and a 16lb cat(did I mention the husband that snores?).

When we first brought the bed home, both my husband and I felt as if our heads were lower than our bodies. As if we were sleeping on a down slope. I called E.S. and requested some help. They were very reluctant to give us a new tension setting for our slats. After three phone calls, they gave me a new setting over the phone. Turns out that the tension brackets on the slats are very cumbersome to set yourself. There are no markings on the slats to help your determine where to put the brackets for the number setting they've given you. They tell you to use a ruler to help you set the tensions based upon the middle of the slat. Yeah right! The mattress is heavy. Someone has to lift it while your under it fiddling with the ruler trying to reset the tension brackets.

During one of the phone calls I commented on how slick the sales process was, the closing etc. then no follow up with their customers(for such a high end product) or if you have a question or a problem there's only reluctance to help. The sales woman said, ''we hate to get involved in people's sleep problems, it gets so personal''! Boy, if only she knew what my sleep problems were! I just wanted a new setting for my slats.

That said, I still don't know if our slats are TRULY set with our body types in mind. E.S. insist that the bed is customized to fit your body type by setting the tension, but they really don't have a perfected system to tell you the how and why behind it. They don't ask for your height or weight or how you normally sleep(back or side?). And they certainly won't be helpful if you request a new slat configuration. So when I lost the rest of my pregnancy weight I didn't bother to call them for a new setting I just squeezed under the bed and made my best guess!

It would have been nice if E.S. sent someone back to my house to help me reset the tension. I mentioned that I live less than a mile from their Berkeley office, it wouldn't have taken much time/effort on their part(after I paid $2,000 for the bed!).

Secondly, they will tell you that movement(someone getting in or out of bed) doesn't affect the mattress or the other person sleeping in the bed. Not true. Third, they will tell you that the mattress will not ''sink'' if a heavy person is sleeping next to someone who is lighter. Not true.

I hope my comments have helped. Good luck! Maya

This is how I bought our mattress: I started with a $700 budget for a queen-sized mattress, so Duxiana, European Sleepworks and McRoskey were out of the question for us. I read about mattresses at and learned that manufacturers (not the independent high-ends mentioned above) sell the same mattresses, but name them differently at each store so that customers cannot compare prices from store to store. I also learned what to look for in mattress construction. I took my notes and went through the exhausting process of visiting the major mattress stores (Mattress Discounters, Sleeptrain, Mancini's, etc.) and tried out mattresses our price range. I found most stores were horrendous -- really high-pressured, irritating sales tactics and absolutely unwilling to give a straight answer. Salespeople will bad-mouth the brand their store doesn't carry -- the only stores that didn't use these tactics were Viking Trader on San Pablo (I didn't like any of their mattresses) and Mancini's in Pinole. Also, Mancini's has a chart comparing the mattresses by name. I ended up spending about $1,000 at Mancini's -- and we're very happy. I couldn't find anything under $900 that I liked. Maybe next time we'll be able to move on up to European Sleepworks! Good luck! Anon

Mattress for someone with a bad back

August 2000

Can anyone recommend a brand of mattress for someone with a bad back in the market for a king size bed?

I don't know if you have the funds to do it, but if you've never tried a Dux bed, you should! They are very expensive, but incredibly well-made Swedish beds. They are warranted for TWENTY YEARS. People leave them to their kids in their wills! You can buy them only at the Duxiana stores (I know there is one in SF). Because we have recently come into a small amount of "discretionary income", we went last week to check out the current prices. A king size 7007 (their top of the line model) is around $7,000, depending on whether you want California King (a little cheaper) or Eastern King (a little more expensive). They have two less expensive lines as well, but we felt that the difference bewteen a regular mattress and the cheaper Dux beds was not sufficient to warrant the extra expense. But the expensive one definitely *is* worth the extra money! We decided that if we were going to do it, we'd just go whole hog and do it. Here's their website for more info http// I definitely would recommend that you go check them out! Dawn
My parents have Tempur-pedic bed. It isn't boxsping/mattress, but made from some space-age foam. It is very comfy to me when I lie on it. My mom got it because my father has bad everthing (back, hips, etc.) and they love it. It is mid-range in terms of cost. I don't know where to tell you to find it, but they have a web site (www.tempurpedic com). Hilary
If you can afford it, get a mattress at European Sleepworks on Adeline. We LOVE this mattress. When I go to sleep with a backache, I wake up pain free. To clarify on the cost of mattresses at European Sleepworks -- I believe the mattress alone is around $1,000 or $1,100 for a King size. "Inbal and Kathy"
Try European Sleep Works on Adeline in Berkeley. These matrresses are heavenly!! We just got an eastern king. You can adjust each side differently, so your partner can have what they want as well. Prices range from $1700 to 2500 for either Ca or eastern king (we found this about twice the rate of a good quailty American bed, which is not nearly as good for your back). There is another brand, duks or something like that, that is also supposed to be very good, but I have heard thay are about twice this price. -Lisa
I want to second (or third) the European Sleep Works endorsements. I bought my bed there while I was pregnant, and I slept comfortably throughout my entire pregnancy. Dashka
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