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I discarded my Stone Age mattress that gave its all years ago for back pain-free mornings

I discovered last week that my mattress and box springs set was better suited for display in the Smithsonian Institute than to sleep on.

I did not know that box springs are now “foundations” and come in two sizes so that you don’t need a ladder like the Princess in the Pea did to climb into bed every night. That’s because many newer mattresses— or at least the one I just bought — have swelled in size due to technology advances in recent years to improve sleep.

The mattresses they are selling today — and in some cases you need to mortgage your house to buy — aren’t your grandfather’s mattress. I found this out because I could not go for my usual jog a week ago.

I can honestly say I’m in Carl Ripken’s league when it comes to being in the proverbial game. He went 2,632 baseball games not sitting on the bench. I exceeded that number in consecutive days in terms of getting in a run — or a minimum 8-mile hike — on a daily basis. That was until last Thursday. I took two strides from my driveway before quickly realizing there is such a thing as crippling pain.

My jog turned into a walk. An hour later I was where I should have gone two months ago when lower back pain suddenly because a daily, and seemingly non-stop, occurrence — Manteca Bedquarters.

I believe I aggravated my back one day when I decided it was time to step up the amount of weight I was working with when I was lifting. Instead of doing it with a 10-pound jump I added 20 pounds. Yes, I know better.

The next morning it hurt getting out of bed. To be honest, it had been hurting getting out of bed for a long time but not like it was this day.

It got worst. I’m one of those people that can’t sit too long as I find it uncomfortable. But at that point sitting in a chair became extremely painful.

I started doing targeted back stretches. At the same time wanting to make sure I didn’t let my core strength get any weaker, I switched to lighter weights and more reps.

It still wasn’t hurting so good, as they say. I hit Staples and invested $34 in a lumbar support chair cushion that is worth every cent I paid for it. While sitting became a lot more pleasant, I was running into other issues.

I then did two things I never thought I’d do. I bought a massager and a back support band at Target.

Things got better during the day but at night it was painful lying down and borderline hell getting up.

Some suggested I go to a doctor. Others urged me to get a good massage or see a chiropractor.

But something told me they weren’t the answer. That’s because every day about a minute or two into a 30-minute run I’d feel good.

It’s not that I didn’t think about buying a mattress. I did. I was too cheap to do so thinking it is better to not touch savings in case of an emergency which thanks for today’s crazed world of a lockdown economy could be a substantial surprise.

I started softening up a bit on my aversion to sinking money into a mattress — pun intended for anyone has ever realized sinking and not sleeping is what they are doing — as I was reading one of my exercise books on strengthening back-related muscles.

I was sitting in a Flex-Steel chair that was worth every cent I spent on it a year prior. It had allowed me to actually sit comfortably for long periods of time while reading or for my once a week indulgence in Netflix that can turn into a four-hour binge in the waning hours of a Saturday night.

I had considered buying one for months after trying them out but was a bit hesitant about the price. It wasn’t until I decided to see what Hafer’s —  who over the years has been my go to place for quality bedroom sets and living room furniture — that I discovered they had the exact Flex-Steel chair I wanted at $100 less than anyone else.

That was enough to lower my resistance.

If a chair could make that big of a difference, then maybe I should not have an aversion to spending the equivalent of 4½ car payments on a mattress.

The very next day I when I waved the yellow flag due to the back pain, aborted my run, and went for a walk.

When I walked ever so carefully into Manteca Bedquarters, it had been 16 years since I had bought a new mattress. That’s about twice the recommended time to keep a mattress you use every day. I had already decided if the new mattress didn’t work I would be seeing a chiropractor.

Long story short, I ended up buying a mid-firm mattress. The salesman advised me on the way out to remember the 30-day exchange policy. He also said to keep in mind it may take two other days to feel a difference.

After just one night it was 80 percent better.

The next morning I was able to hold a plank for a minute without shaking and am working toward my old mark of three minutes from a group exercise class at Cal Fitness.

Four days later I could honestly say it was the best my lower back had felt in years. And that was doing everything from waking to sitting.

I’m not squandering the opportunity as I am stepping up core work and stretches. When the lockdown gods allow it, I plan to take up yoga after dabbling in it in previous years. I am now completely aware of how being limber and taking steps to strengthen your back and posture is a huge quality of life concern.

You’d think with how fanatic I am about exercise that it would have gotten through my thick skull years ago. It is especially true given I have a slight curvature of my back.

The past two months were a painful reminder that in many cases what ails us can be remedied by things that don’t need medical attention. It is clear we can do things to not only strengthen our own body but if we spend the time to wade through our personal behavior and appropriate “environmental” issues such as how and what we sleep on, we can improve our ability to function.

That goes for everything from diet, mobility, and mental outlook to how we wake up in the morning.



This column is the opinion of editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinions of The Bulletin or 209 Multimedia. He can be reached at