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Intellibed and other Buckling Column Gel Beds for pain? 08 Oct 2013 19:54 #1

  • Denver Shoulder Pain
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Cool forum. I have been reading tons on mattresses all day since I started shopping last night at Denver Mattress Company and this has the best info by far.

I was intrigued by some of the properties of buckling gel columns, in particular the Intellibed and surprised the only mention of this type of comfort layer material is in some of the overview articles. I would love to see some more discussion from experts on this material as it seems totally different than anything else.

www.intellibed.com/

For background, I have a chronic repetitive stress injury in my shoulder blades (20 years as a hard working professional musician on both the massive double bass and heavy electric bass guitars) and saw that a buckling gel in the comfort layer that has " the highest layer of pressure relief" according to this site. I frequently have issues with my hands and arms "going to sleep" and often wake up after an evening of gigging with pain and fatigue in those areas. I have to flip frequently when falling asleep due to shoulder pain on any bed I sleep on. My shoulder frequently throbs with pain and is chronically inflamed more days then not, and yes I've tried treating it with about everything for the last decade, so this is one more attempt. I will have a new home that will allow a King mattress shortly and have been looking forward to upgrading from a 12 year old mattress with some cheap mem foam topper we were getting by on the last few years,

The other sleep related issue is that I frequently overheat in the middle of the night and often have to get up to cool off; again the buckling column gel has some nice properties compared to memory foam from what I've gathered. I have a medical condition called hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating basically) that sometimes causes heating and cooling problems in my body.

Fortunately, lower back pain has not been issue for me, and while I'm not wanting to start introducing alignment problems with too little support, so I'm more interested in a soft comfort layer that works well assuming most coils under that will work fine.

Intellibed's standard " 20" bed in King is about $2k that has gel over some unspecified foam, and they have a premium one for injuries like mine they recommended to me today over the phone that has talalay latex under the "intelligel" for about $3.5K. Not much info on the bed outside of the properties of the buckling gel columns, though they have lots of great videos including some dissections of other mattress by the CEO. They also seem to be suggesting much better durability then any foam or latex mattress with this material, which makes me wonder if the high price might be worth it.

I could swing those prices if it would really make a difference but not sure what else I could get for that kind of money if I followed the advice here.

After reading this site, I will be curious to find out more about the foam and latex Intellibed uses, and what else might be a good option for me by visiting some of the smaller specialty stores in the Denver area that are mentioned here.

My wife of course will have some input; her complaint is TMJ but probably could be a whole other post!

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Intellibed and other Buckling Column Gel Beds for pain? 08 Oct 2013 21:16 #2

  • phoenix
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Hi Denver Shoulder Pain,

Buckling Column Gel is certainly an interesting material but like any material some people will do well with it and some won't.

The thing that's most unusual about it is that it has what could be called a negative compression modulus. Compression modulus is the rate that a foam becomes firmer with deeper compression. The equivalent with a spring is called spring rate. With buckling column gel instead of getting firmer when you compress it more deeply like foam materials ... it starts off firmer when it's not compressed and the gets softer when the columns buckle under pressure. Different types of foam and different designs of innersprings all have a different response curve (there is a little more about this in post #2 here ). A forum search on " orthogel " which is used in the Nexgel mattress or on " intelligel " used in the Intellibed, or on somnigel which is a newer version that is used by several manufacturers (you can just click the links) will bring up more forum comments about them.

Most foam materials and innersprings get progressively firmer as you compress them so the initial compression is softer than when you sink deeper into the material. With buckling column gel it's the other way around and the firmer resistance would be with the initial force and then when the columns buckled the resistance would become less. This allows the buckling column material to stay firmer under the more recessed parts of the body while it allows for deeper penetration into the material under the pressure points. This allows the more recessed areas of the body to support more weight and re-distributes the weight away from the pressure points.

Of course the buckling column gel is only one of the layers and the feel and performance of the mattress would also depend on all the other layers both above and below the material. They also have a somewhat unique "feel".

If there is a retailer near you it would certainly be worth testing.

There are now three manufacturers that have different versions of buckling column gel. One is Intelligel and one is NexGel (now owned by Spring Air / Sommex since Natura went bankrupt) and Leggett & Platt now has a version called Somnigel which is being used by King Koil and several other manufacturers in their mattresses. There is a little more information about them in post #7 here and in post #2 here .

The Intellibed site has a retail store locator here and NexGel has a contact page here so you can find out if there are any retailers in your area that carry either of them so you can test them in person. King Koil also has a retail store finder here .

I'm not sure whether either of them will give you the specifics of all the other layers in the mattress which may be more difficult to find out.

Phoenix
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Last edit: by phoenix.

Intellibed and other Buckling Column Gel Beds for pain? 08 Oct 2013 22:29 #3

Interestingly, they seem to sell a topper.. More interestingly, there's a store that sells it about 10 mins from my house. Now I'm just curious to try this material. In USA dollars, the topper doesn't seem any more/less expensive than a quality talalay topper. Looks to be 3".

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Intellibed and other Buckling Column Gel Beds for pain? 09 Oct 2013 17:20 #4

I had a chance to try this material today, the genuine Intelli-Bed buckling column gel 3" topper. I was not super amazed by it, although people would have to make their own judgement.

It feels mostly like a very soft topper. In the demo piece of intelligel outside the topper, I was able to duplicate that with a large flat surface evenly pressing down, the columns don't buckle easily and it supports lots of downward pressure. However, use a fist or point it sinks in easily .. The theory being that hips and shoulders easily sink in. Ive seen a couple videos showing this that they advertise.

It definitely does that... So when you lay on it your hips and shoulders definitely sink right in, immediately. You'd need to design your bed correctly if you planned on using it, because I immediately felt the foam underneath it (I was testng topper, not full bed). I found the transition between the buckled gel at my hips and shoulders to the foam below distracting. It was a very noticeable boundary which I didn't like. You'd need extremely soft foam below to not feel that boundary, which might be too much comfort layer when all is said and done. Again, I'd be interested how they've done it in their bed vs the topper.

Also, I'm not convinced that after moving around, and the various shapes of a persons body, if many of the columns would remain unbuckled... The demo is always a flat force equally pressing down over all columns in their ad videos I've seen, and I tested with my iPad by example... But the rounded shapes of the body plus side to side movement as you shift around might just buckle most of the columns.

In the end, I didn't buy. I don't think it's better for most people. The sales person says he's used 2 toppers totaling 6" on his bed to avoid that breakthrough to the bottom layer feel, though I can't imagine that's good alignment.

Thanks,

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Last edit: by dn.

Intellibed and other Buckling Column Gel Beds for pain? 10 Oct 2013 22:30 #5

  • Denver Shoulder Pain
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Hmm, I definitely want to try it out of curiosity. The "dealer" they have here in Denver is actually a Chiropractor, so I will call their office and see how that works. Fortunately she's got an office near my office and looked interesting, so that might not be so bad.

I did go by the the healthy back store in Littleton and try out some latex Pure Bliss mattresses. I wasn't immediately knocked or anything but will try them again.

DN; they actually make a 6" topper as well that might work better based on your description.

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Intellibed and other Buckling Column Gel Beds for pain? 10 Oct 2013 22:44 #6

@Denver Shoulder Pain,

I'd certainly recommend you give it a try. I don't know that a 6" topper would help...I don't know that it wouldn't. The "problem" I had with it was you're either sort of on top, or sort of at the bottom... There's not really an in between. The columns are either buckled, or not. I suspect that many people would get their posture messed up if they added 6" of the buckling gel. Maybe the 6" topper is actually 3" of buckling gel and 3" of super soft foam to make the transition not noticeable- that might make sense. It's not that I hated it, but in feeling it, and considering the design, it basically by definition, let's you sink really deep into it. As Phoenix wrote, it sort of has a negative support factor / support modulus. Plus, I'm not certain that after shifting around in your sleep you wouldn't just buckle all of the columns anyhow.

So in my thinking, the soft gel material in its buckled state (which is soft still) ends up being all you really have in the product.

I'd be curious your impressions! Please do report back?

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Last edit: by dn.

Intellibed and other Buckling Column Gel Beds for pain? 11 Oct 2013 11:53 #7

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Hi dn,

But the rounded shapes of the body plus side to side movement as you shift around might just buckle most of the columns.


The columns "spring back" when you change position so they don't stay collapsed and would re-contour themselves to each new sleeping position and body profile but like all materials how well they work for each person would depend on the layers above and below the bucking column gel and the specifics of the design. I haven't tested the intelligel but I have tested Orthogel which is similar but it wasn't my favorite material. For some people though it appears to work very well and for them it's "worth" the extra cost.

Phoenix
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Intellibed and other Buckling Column Gel Beds for pain? 11 Oct 2013 17:12 #8

Hi dn,

But the rounded shapes of the body plus side to side movement as you shift around might just buckle most of the columns.


The columns "spring back" when you change position so they don't stay collapsed and would re-contour themselves to each new sleeping position and body profile but like all materials how well they work for each person would depend on the layers above and below the bucking column gel and the specifics of the design. I haven't tested the intelligel but I have tested Orthogel which is similar but it wasn't my favorite material. For some people though it appears to work very well and for them it's "worth" the extra cost.

Phoenix


@Phoenix

Yes I know and saw how they spring back, so I agree that if you lift pressure from them they'd go upright, to the degree neighboring columns don't pull them down (they're not independent).

It's sort of like imagining a tabletop covered with empty pop cans (the columns) all set as close together as possible... If you put a board on top of the cans, you'd probably be able to stand on it, it would be so strong. However, if you make a sweeping motion from the side, you just knock all the cans over.

It's not a perfect analogy, but... I doubt the human body ever exerts perfectly verticle downwards pressure as a perfectly horizontal surface. I'd guess most/many/all of the columns would likely buckle/be pressed flat if you rolled over, for example. In doing so, you're going to exert significant force diagonally. Columns are horrible against a diagonal force.

The material is a super soft gel material. I'd guess if you just made a 3" topper from the same material and with the same overall density of the 3" layer of buckling column gel (including the empty portions), you'd be pretty close to the same feel. But, I don't have such a material, so it's mere conjecture on my part.

It's still nice... Just I dont think I believe the theory of it works nearly as well with rounded shapes and diagonal forces.

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Last edit: by dn.

Intellibed and other Buckling Column Gel Beds for pain? 11 Oct 2013 17:46 #9

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Hi dn,

It's not a perfect analogy, but... I doubt the human body ever exerts perfectly verticle downwards pressure as a perfectly horizontal surface. I'd guess most/many/all of the columns would likely buckle/be pressed flat if you rolled over, for example. In doing so, you're going to exert significant force diagonally. Columns are horrible against a diagonal force.


I certainly understand what you are saying but in my experience and in some fairly lengthy conversations with some others who either sell it or who have experienced or own them this doesn't happen in actual practice. The upright columns actually pull the collapsed columns back up because some of the walls need to stretch to allow the columns or other cell walls to buckle. They may buckle while you are changing positions but they will come back to the stiffer position under the recessed body parts when you come to rest. They don't have a "sudden" buckling pressure like a more solid material and are elastic even before they buckle.

Solid gel materials have a very different feel and performance and are much firmer. Mattresses that use the solid gel materials (such as the Technogel, Kingsdown Blutek line or some of the Sherwood mattresses) only use fairly thin layers (normally less than 2" and often less) and need softer foam underneath it because for most people it would be much too firm otherwise.

Phoenix
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Last edit: by phoenix.

Intellibed and other Buckling Column Gel Beds for pain? 11 Oct 2013 17:53 #10

@Phoenix

Interesting. Makes sense also. Of course this discussion all high in the theory because neither of us found it our favorite. ;) I do think anyone who's interested should try it, it may work wonders for someone else.

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