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how to check posture alignment, any ideas? 13 Mar 2014 15:19 #1

  • brass
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Hi folks, I was wondering if anyone had tips or pointers. Obviously one of the most important features of a mattress is to maintain proper alignment (hips not too high, not too low). How do you check? This sounds beyond basic, but the more I've thought about it, the more I'm stumped. Pictures or diagrams of 'proper' position easily enough show what this means and I understand the concept, but how do I know? I doubt any bed provides exactly 'straight' alignment, it going to be an 'estimate'. Being not overly old with no real ailments to speak of, I can flex my hips either direction and not 'feel' it until it's exaggerated. Right now my mattress is pathetic and so the sag is pretty pronounced - but in terms of a new bed. Try and use a mirror and 'see'? Lol, sorry for sounding so ridiculous, but I can look at another person and 'ballpark' whether they appear to be fairly flat or if they're out of alignment but this isn't something I can see regarding myself. Left up to feel, and that's not the best measurement in my case since I might feel alright, no red flags, but if there is a posture alignment issue slight to moderate - what I don't feel now after some time might progress to an issue. Is this a 2 person task?

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how to check posture alignment, any ideas? 13 Mar 2014 15:23 #2

  • phoenix
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Hi brass,

There are some links to suggestions and guidelines for testing pressure relief and alignment in step 4 of the tutorial post

Phoenix
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how to check posture alignment, any ideas? 13 Mar 2014 16:27 #3

  • brass
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Ok, thanks. I guess it's nearly impossible without a partner then. I've checked sliding my hand under my lower back, that I can pretty well do myself. Didn't know if there were any tricks of the trade for mostly single sleepers to get an idea (not everyone has a partner handy). I agree about just relying on comfort, going by that alone considering my body can flex a number of ways I'm sure aren't 'aligned' would still feel 'comfy'. As others have mentioned, I find myself doing the half stomach/half side position a lot although this might be a habit I've developed tolerating my current setup. Back sleeping may become an option once I'm on something more supportive. It's almost comical in a sense how little effort sales people give customers choosing a mattress compared to those selling shoes. Both are important, but the shoe salesman will check and squeeze toes, pressure points, break out measuring devices. Mattress salesman typically say 'give it a whirl. comfy? sign here.' I understand the waking up sore being a sign of bad alignment, although unless a mattress is broke down or 'extra firm' I rarely wake up with soreness. Whether it's a friend or family members bed or hotel bed which none of them are alike - which tells me unless it's extreme (at least in the short term) I'm not picking up on alignment problems which may exist and not be noticeable until years have passed. Someone else mentioned they or their partner developing bad back problems due to years of poor sleep alignment. It made me aware of it, I hadn't really considered that a possibility. Being familiar with people who have chronic back problems, that's something I'd like to avoid if I can.

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how to check posture alignment, any ideas? 13 Mar 2014 17:16 #4

I think the best insurance is to buy a quality mattress, from a reputable distributor that offers a free layer exchange policy. Make sure the mattress has a zipper and the ability to exchange layers. Make an informed decision based on the information provided here on this site regardless of wether you can test it out in person or not.

A person isnt really not going to know unless you sleep in it for quite some time. It took me over a month to adjust and since, most of my ailments I was experienceing from the old mattress are gone. If the mattress doesnt agree with the person they should come back here and post their concerns, and also ask the sales rep for his advice and exchange the layer if need be. When the mattress begins to fail they should reevaluate it and then replace the layer that is need of replacing.

Really all you can do...basically it is a educated guess, coupled with a relaible and honest distributer. But a person really has to sleep in it to determine it, and they really wont get the full effect until the mattress has broken in.

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Last edit: by TandL.

how to check posture alignment, any ideas? 13 Mar 2014 19:24 #5

  • phoenix
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Hi brass,

It can certainly be more difficult to check alignment when you are alone and don't have someone to help "eyeball" you (either a partner of a retailer).

While no testing will be 100% reliable ... the goal of good testing is to shift the odds of success as much as possible in your favor.

It's still possible to do a reasonably good job if you pay careful attention to the signals your body is giving you and if you spend long enough on the mattress. Some of the things that would be important is that your testing "approximates" your sleeping experience as closely as possible so it's important to wear loose clothing, make sure you are testing with a good pillow, and spend long enough on the mattress that your muscles are completely relaxed. Your muscles will generally take about 10 or 15 minutes or so to relax when you are "going to sleep" and this is when good testing begins and you will be more likely to be able to "feel" how your body is doing on the mattress by listening to the more subtle signals and seeing if your muscles can "let go" or if they resist relaxing completely to keep you in alignment.

There is also a range of alignment that works for each person (younger more flexible bodies that haven't developed any "issues" will generally have a wider range) so the goal is not to have alignment that is "ruler straight" because everyone's natural alignment isn't "ruler straight" (just like all feet don't fit a "perfect" shoe).

If you do well and make a choice that is inside your range ... you may still have some initial discomfort or "symptoms" on the mattress just because it's different from what your body is used to sleeping on (just like a new pair of shoes can take a while to become comfortable) and your different muscle memory will feel it's different from your old mattress (see post #7 here ) but if your alignment is good then the symptoms will diminish and disappear vs if your alignment isn't good then any "symptoms" can get worse as you spend more time on the mattress (just like a pair of good shoes that has better arch support can be uncomfortable until you get used to better arch support).

So good testing is the best way to "predict" your experience on a mattress and have the highest possible odds of success even though it may not be 100% accurate and you may still go through an adjustment period.

Some local retailers I know don't have any exchange or return policy at all because they don't feel good making people who don't return or exchange a mattress pay for the ones who do and have the skills and confidence to help their customers make good choices they have a very high success rate. Of course they may also lose a sale to a customer who is more uncertain that a mattress is a good "match" for them and is willing to pay a higher price for a return or exchange option.

Of course if you are buying online and making a choice based on averages that you can't test in person then of course a good return or exchange policy can become much more important.

I also believe that many years of sleeping out of alignment are certainly one of the factors that can help lead to back issues over the years even if the symptoms don't become obvious right away.

Phoenix
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Last edit: by phoenix.

how to check posture alignment, any ideas? 14 Mar 2014 09:49 #6

  • brass
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Thanks guys. I can appreciate the perspective of retailers/etailers trying to keep costs down by not fiddling with returns. It's something I've been keeping in mind while trying to narrow down my options. I'm sure unless people are just window shopping or something, most would rather not return anything. That was something I expressed to a couple different places, in a perfect world luck would have it I'd end up with a great mattress, set it up, throw on the sheets and put all this headache behind me. Easy purchase, easy sale, everything going 'to plan'. I know some of the potential return scenarios are built into the price but I just look at it as paying for peace of mind. I never make any purchase with the intent of sending it back, but I tend to avoid overstock for the fact they don't accept returns on much if anything regarding bedding. Even if not a 'comfort' issue, nice to know I can work with someone and get what I paid for and that any manufactured goods are prone to be a bad apple. To at least be able to return if it's defective.

A little off topic, so maybe this should be a post of it's own. (I came across an interesting thread but it was older and didn't want to wake up a dead thread). Two poly foams, with the same firmness (ifd) - will they feel differently based on density alone? I ask because there's been statements that ifd doesn't affect firmness, a dense foam can be made to feel soft, a low density foam can be made to feel hard. Maybe both are true, in the event they're the same firmness maybe then density will play a role. This was related to questions someone had about Brooklyn Bedding/Dreamfoam changing up their layers, reducing some of their core poly foam from 2.2 to 1.5 lbs density. Phoenix said he spoke with BB and it was noted that others like Tempurpedic have also done this with some newer models, that the lower density was actually a good choice because it made for a better 'feel'. I wouldn't have considered there to be a difference in feel if 1.2, 1.5, 1.8, 2.2 density foams can be made to any firmness without regard to their density. If a higher and lower density foam (poly) in the same ild can feel differently, wouldn't that suggest density is related to firmness? I mean if not firmness/softness feel, what are people feeling differently? I can feel when a couch cushion say is firm or soft (ild difference) and how much I sink in. I'd think what I was feeling was firm/soft ild, not the actual density of the material (provided surface feel was the same material, cotton duck, velour). Then again I didn't consider myself overweight being around 190lbs and BB and others have suggested nearing the 200lb mark a higher density foam would be more suited to me. Maybe it's just wishful thinking and denial of needing to go on a diet lol. Kidding aside, I know a higher density is more durable which makes perfect sense considering my somewhat higher than average weight to height ratio - I just wasn't aware of a feel difference.

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how to check posture alignment, any ideas? 14 Mar 2014 13:18 #7

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Hi brass,

Two poly foams, with the same firmness (ifd) - will they feel differently based on density alone? I ask because there's been statements that ifd doesn't affect firmness, a dense foam can be made to feel soft, a low density foam can be made to feel hard. Maybe both are true, in the event they're the same firmness maybe then density will play a role.


That depends on how you define "feel" which is very subjective and can vary with all the properties and specs of the foam (such as resilience, point elasticity, cell structure, and others) which are "built in" to the chemical formulation of the polyfoam (regardless of density).

Assuming though that you are only talking about the firmness/softness of a foam ... then the IFD rating for polyfoam is measured by using a 50 sq inch round compressor foot and compressing a 4" piece of foam of at least 15" x 15" (usually 20" x 20") by 25% of its thickness (so a 4" piece is compressed to 3") and after a short waiting period measuring the force needed to keep it compressed. There is 1 lb of force applied first to even out any irregularities in the foam surface.

This means that IFD is an accurate representation of the relative firmness of 4" of a foam material compared to others that are measured using the same testing protocols and that are compressed by one inch. IFD testing will usually also be a reasonable prediction of the relative firmness of a foam in other circumstances or applications as well.

There are also other factors though that can affect how soft or firm a foam feels other than IFD. The most important of these is compression modulus which is the rate that a foam becomes firmer as you compress it more deeply. Foams with a higher compression modulus (also called support factor, sag factor, or comfort factor) will feel firmer when they are compressed more than 25% than a foam with a lower compression modulus. The compression modulus of a foam will also depend on the chemical foam formulation although with the same chemical foam formulation higher density will usually have a higher compression modulus. HR foams or "high comfort" or "high performance" foams will generally use a chemical formulation that has a higher compression modulus than conventional foam formulations (regardless of density). There is more in post #4 here about the various factors that can affect how firm or soft a foam feels and performs (other than its position in a mattress and the layers above or below it which are not part of the properties of the foam itself).

Any density of foam can be made in a very wide range of IFD's and density is more connected to durability not firmness but IFD itself isn't the only factor that is involved in how firm a layer of a foam "feels".

Phoenix
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Last edit: by phoenix.

how to check posture alignment, any ideas? 14 Mar 2014 13:59 #8

  • brass
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Phoenix, thank you. That I think answered what I was wondering. I know there are tons of unknowns and variables, but when you mentioned the denser version of the same ild would tend to have a higher compression modulus now makes sense. I was thinking if it's a matter of the methods involved and any density can be made to roughly any firmness, I wasn't grasping how feel would come into play. Would make sense though that a lower density foam of the same ild, if it had a lower sag factor would be more 'cush' since it wouldn't firm up to the same degree with deeper compression. Also makes more sense being recommended to a denser version of poly foam for my relatively heavier weight (considering my stocky/shorter height) - a lighter person wouldn't need as much 'support' and my heavier weight range would roughly 'feel' the same from a denser product. If I sank down deeper into a less supportive layer due to lower density, it might 'feel' softer/saggier compared to the experience for a lighter built person would feel from the same exact material.

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how to check posture alignment, any ideas? 15 Mar 2014 16:22 #9

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Hey Brass, back to the original point, I had a similar situation in that I am single and had nobody to accompany me on my field tests. I came up with some 'odd' ways of checking alignment, at least for side sleepers, (which I am mostly). First, I took a yard stick with me and when lying on my side I would place the yard stick down my spine, (a bit awkward at first, but after a few test runs was fairly simple). just line up the ends in the middle of the neck and the other end on the tail bone. Then have the salesman take a picture with my phone, and have them press the yard stick so I could more clearly feel where the straight path was. If my back swayed down, I knew there was not enough support, if it swayed up, too much support. Same in looking at the photos. one could draw lines and figure the angles, esp hip displacement. I also wore a compression shirt which clearly outlined every part of my back. (In stores where the salesperson was busy with others, the yard stick under the compression shirt 'held' it in place pretty well). It was quite easy to see/feel where my alignment was off, which made finding the right support fairly easy, (after checking thru dozens of different types of mattresses). I will say that when I narrowed my choices down, I would lie on a mattress for nearly an hour, (listening to the music I like to fall asleep to on my iPod, which enhanced the relaxing of muscles), to get a final reading.As Phoenix mentioned, once your muscles release, (relax), there is some change. Surprisingly, (or maybe not), there were only 3 finalists which graded a near perfect 100% alignment.
I hope this helps a little. By the way, I do have back issues, and use to wake every morning for years with back pain. My Chiropractor said it was because I continue to run, compressing my spine too much. Well I can honestly say, that after getting my new mattress, I have not awakened one day yet with any back pain! What an amazing feeling! I was in awe the first day for hours as I waited for a twinge or spasm to kick in. Never happened. And I reported this to my chiropractor and he was amazed too. (haven't had to see him either since). Good luck and take the time to get the right mattress. Its not only a big investment, but an investment in your future health.

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how to check posture alignment, any ideas? 17 Mar 2014 12:24 #10

  • rconn2
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Curious - what were the finalists and final choice? And, thanks for the tip on checking alignment.

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