The mattress that helped my SI joint issues

When my SI joints were at their worst, they were extremely sensitive to the kind of surface I was resting on.

Of course, in the midst of my problem, the mattress I’d loved for about 10 years finally wore out. And it wore out bad.

Now that I’m doing better, it’s almost hard to remember how sensitive I was.

At the time, all I knew was that a mattress that was too soft, or worn out, would cause my SI joints to rotate out of place and lock up as my body sank down, finding a new equilibrium.

And a mattress that was too hard, paradoxically, would do the same thing– it would kind of force my body to adapt to a position that it didn’t really “want” to, and somehow my SI joints would lock up then, as well.

It was awful– before I found my new mattress I didn’t even want to go to bed at night.

What I really needed to find was a mattress that had just the right amount of cushioning on top to protect my joints, but was still firm enough overall that my body wouldn’t sink in.

And boy, did I have a hard time.

I don’t want to tell you how many mattresses I tried or money I spent before I found the right thing.  Let’s just say that, when you are going through a major department store/mattress chain, the process is going to be expensive– expect delivery fees– and the most you will ever be able to hope for, if you have second thoughts, is an exchange.

At one point I was so desperate, I wondered if maybe I could just live my life on an air mattress, since that seemed to be the most easily customizable in terms of firmness.

However, it turns out there are much better, updated ways to do your mattress shopping.

I ultimately did some research, and it turns out that now that we’re in the 2010’s 2020’s, there are actually some much better ways to do your mattress shopping.

There are a few new mattress start-ups which operate almost entirely online:

Personally, I tried both the Casper and the Leesa, until I realized that a super-soft foam mattress wasn’t for me. However, if firmness isn’t a significant concern for you (everybody’s different), I would recommend giving them a try. I found the customer service at both companies to be easy to deal with, and had no trouble arranging my returns and refunds.

Compared to the terrible experience at in-person mattress stores, where you often can’t get a refund at all, you have nothing to lose. So if you’re looking to try out new options and get a sense of what works for you, I think these newer startup models are great options.

When I finally found the perfect mattress:

Ultimately, I ended up finding the perfect mattress through a company called Room and Board.  I was able to go in to the Boston store and pick out the mattress I wanted (I went with the Innerspring Firm).

I’ve had it for two years now, and it’s been exactly what I was looking for.  It’s firm enough that my body doesn’t sink in too far, yet with just enough cushioning so that I also don’t feel any specific tender points.  It’s been a lifesaver.

I do have to say that since I bought it, some of the cushioning on top has become a teeny bit condensed.  However, I’ve made sure to rotate the mattress when I feel this starting to happen, and so far it’s evened out and hasn’t changed the overall feel of the mattress.

Room and Board’s great customer service policies also added to my positive experience.  If you happen to live near a store, you can actually try the mattress out in person.  Then, regardless of whether you’re ordering from the store or ordering online, they offer a 120-night in home trial.  (You do have to pay a $90 flat-rate shipping fee, which would have covered the cost of a return if I needed to make one).

However, it was totally worth it in my case.  I found the perfect mattress at a great store, with much more customer-friendly policies.  And of course I didn’t need to make a return, because I totally love my mattress!


As I learned throughout all of my misadventures mattress shopping, it’s really important to make sure that your mattress is supported by the surface it’s on.  I use this Sealy 9″ box spring and am happy with the level of support it gives my mattress.


I also find that the height of the mattress makes a difference getting in and out of bed.  I use my 11″ Room and Board mattress directly on the 9″ box spring on the floor.  This makes the whole thing about 20″, and I find it’s just the perfect height for me to get in an out comfortably.  (I’m 5’4″, so this is just to give you an idea!  Do what works for you!).


So, if you are thinking of replacing your mattress, I definitely recommend you look into one of these newer models of purchasing, instead of wasting money and time like I did.

And I definitely recommend Room and Board– their mattress was a game-changer for me!

Published by Christy Collins

Hi, I'm Christy! I'm a health coach who helps people overcome SI joint dysfunction and chronic pain.

9 thoughts on “The mattress that helped my SI joint issues

  1. I could have written the first section of this!!! I was diagnosed last month, did two sessions of PT, then got hit HARD with Covid. Being bedridden on an old mattress with a messed up SI joint is NOT fun!!! And you KNOW your mattress is bad when you compare the hospital beds to sleeping on a cloud!

    I’m in search of a firm, yet soft, mattress topper because we’re not ready to upgrade the mattress yet. (Would like to move and upgrade to a King. Don’t have the space in the current home.)


    1. Hi Caroline, so glad the post resonated with you! I’m so sorry to hear about your difficult journey over the past month. Fingers crossed that you find the right solution for you, quickly!


      1. I have recently been diagnosed with SI joint pain, and I’ve found that our firm mattress causes me nothing but misery. Sleeping on the couch makes things a lot better, which isn’t making sense to me. The couch offers so little support, but it feels like that’s what my body wants. The support of the bed pushes my body into an alignment it doesn’t want.

        The couch is not a longterm solution, though, and I do not know how to find a bed with as little support as a couch. I have tried a 3 inch foam mattress topper, thinking it would reduce the firmness of the bed, and it did not help. I’m not sure why.


        1. Hmm…. I think I would try an even softer topper, or perhaps layering multiple toppers. One may not have been enough. It’s not only about the 3″ height but also about the density/firmness of the foam.

          I think you’re making the right decision to listen to your body and try to figure out what works for it.

          I hopeyou find an answer soon!


  2. Hi Christy, Can you link to the Room & Board mattress you are recommending? I went to their site and I can’t figure out which worked for you based on the description — I thin it’s possible they have changed how they describe them online.Thanks!


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