If you suffer from chronic pain in your joints, back, lower back or neck etc. then you will know what it’s like to never be able to sit down or go to bed without being in severe discomfort most of the time. It seems that what should be the most comfortable furniture in the house has suddenly become instruments of torture.
A possible solution for some people with chronic pain from Pagets disease or arthritis or other debilitating conditions is to use furniture made from memory foam. Memory foam mattresses are known to help you sleep by making the bed more comfortable and it is being used more and more in luxury hotels and even cinemas to make the experience more enjoyable.
So how does memory foam work and how can it help relieve pain?
Memory foam is a visco-elastic material, which means that it gets softer as it gets warmer. When it gets soft it allows objects to sink into it when the object applies pressure to the foam. Memory foam is also an insulator so it is possible to heat up the material in localised areas without the heat spreading to other parts of the foam. When a warm human body lays on a sheet of memory foam the foam becomes heated by the warmth of the body, just in the areas where the body makes contact with the foam. This causes the material to become softer under the body and allows it to sink into the foam. As you sink further into the memory foam, more and more of your body comes into contact with the foam until the warm, soft foam is giving you good support all over your body.
When all of your body is fully supported by the soft warm foam the pressure on every part of your body in contact with it is equal. Because there are no longer any single points of contact to cause pressure hot spots, all of your body will feel more comfortable. It’s this removal of pressure points by distributing the pressure over all of your body that gives you relief from pain.
Why do we have memory foam?
Memory foam was originally developed for NASA for use in the space program. It was to be used as padding for the astronaut’s seats as a means to relieve some of the discomfort experienced from high acceleration or ‘G’ forces. I’m not quite sure how this was expected to work in that situation however because the astronauts would be wearing space suits at the time which would insulate them from the foam in the seats. No heat no softening of the memory foam.
NASA never actually used the memory foam in it’s space craft because it gives off a toxic gas in small quantities which could cause problems in a confined and air tight space.
Try some alternatives
Memory foam mattresses are still expensive products, especially good quality ones, so it pays to try out some alternatives before changing your mattress. Memory foam pillows and toppers can easily be found and they can make a significant difference if you are having trouble sleeping. There are also cheaper materials like high-density polyurethane foam and latex foam that are also very good and might suit your pocket better.
If you have trouble with the comfy chairs in your living room then try a memory foam cushion or two. Having experienced how uncomfortable a soft chair can be when I had some lower back pain problems I know that any improvements would be worthwhile.