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How does a mattress align the spine? 31 Oct 2013 16:00 #1

  • SleepTampa
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When you are laying on a mattress, won't different parts of your body sink in at different rates depending on how much each section of your body weighs, or how does the mattress adjust? For this reason, would you have to find the "magic setting" for firmness/support to get it just right, or else you're out of luck? But, then if you change positions, the setting won't work anymore anyways (e.g., like once you have found a good setting on airbeds). Even if you use latex, won't the latex hold up some parts of your body higher than others (given the weight differential ... even if it is an active core, it will be "more active" on the lighter areas of your body)?

I saw the high resilience and support factor aspects mentioned on the latex support cores article on the site (where in theory latex will hold you up and fill in the gaps), but when I tried a few total Total Latex Bliss models it didn't feel like they filling in gaps, I felt like I slept on top of the mattress but not in it ... I don't want to be totally immersed, but there seemed to be spaces remaining in the lumbar area when slide sleeping. I am concerned that I have to get it "just right" when trying things out in the showroom or else spinal alignment won't happen.

In this context, is it possible for a mattress to be too firm for achieving spinal alignment? This is assuming that you could tolerate the pressure points that are being created. It seems that it is recommended to have a firm support layer, but if it was too firm, then if your hip width doesn't match your shoulder width, once you sink through the comfort layer to the firm support layer, I would think that you would be uneven. I am just trying to figure out the general principle of how to get spinal alignment as opposed to just hoping it randomly happens on mattresses I am trying out, it has been addressed quite a bit on the site but I'm not quite getting it ... my apologies :S

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How does a mattress align the spine? 31 Oct 2013 16:18 #2

Hi SleepTampa,

Yes, a mattress can indeed be too firm, and as a result achieve poor alignment. You can see an excellent first introduction from Phoenix here:

www.themattressunderground.com/mattress-forum/general-mattresses/8240-how-to-look-for-and-find-the-best-mattress-for-you-read-first.html

He reviews PPP, the first 2 P's being posture and pressure relief. The trick is indeed to find a mattress that is suitable for you, and allows you to achieve the right posture / alignment and pressure relief. The good news is it's not impossible to find a suitable mattress to achieve this for yourself, the bad news is that it can take some effort to do that.

In any event, I think the above link will help you understand the fundamentals.

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How does a mattress align the spine? 31 Oct 2013 19:45 #3

  • phoenix
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Hi SleepTampa,

Your question goes to the heart of all mattress design and theory and would be something like asking "how does food work" :)

I'm also guessing that you aren't looking for the technicalities that may take many years of study to really understand (the learning curve never ends).

In the broadest of terms though ... and outside of the links that are included in the tutorial post that dn linked to ... different types of foam and mattress components each have a different compression curve and compression modulus (how quickly a material gets firmer as you sink into it more deeply) and other properties which is how the alignment of each area of the body is controlled. There are also some mattresses that use zoning in more difficult circumstances.

There is more about some of the specific properties or specs of different foams that can make a difference in mattress design and theory in post #2 here and post #6 here may also help you visualize how a mattress affects alignment for different people but these only scratch the surface of a very complex subject.

For those who are more technically or mathematically inclined then there are some good books as well that go into this in much more complexity and detail including here and here but these are not easy reads and would be of more interest for those who are pursuing this in a more professional environment.

Overall ... I would focus more on the "what and whether" of alignment that you can test for and "feel" in person than on the "how" behind it because studying the how can very easily lead to paralysis by analysis and information overload. The most effective approach is to use careful and objective testing with the help and guidance of someone with good knowledge and experience that already knows what you would otherwise have to spend a great deal of time learning.

It's easier to find an expert that makes or sells mattresses than to become one :)

Phoenix
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Last edit: by phoenix.

How does a mattress align the spine? 01 Nov 2013 08:41 #4

  • SleepTampa
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Thank you both! This is exactly the information I was looking for.

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