Sore back? How to care for yourself during a hotel stay

On the Spot: Travel questions. Those with a sore back might want to shop hotels for the mattresses installed in rooms. A targeted exercise routine, diligently maintained, also helps.

Los Angeles Times—February 9, 2014

Question: As you know, most of us develop some degree of lumbar disc degeneration as we age. My recollection is that a few years back there was a significant movement among all major hotel chains to offer upgraded bedding. Thicker, firmer mattresses with plush tops became common. Although many properties maintain these, some properties are using thinner, softer mattresses with considerably less back support. What's best?

Answer: What's best for you depends on your shape, your size and your needs, mattress experts told me.

As we age, the cumulative trauma to the back, whether from lifting improperly, injuries or the ravages of time, can make the back a problem area, said Dr. Joseph Feinberg, physiatrist in chief at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. If you have disc problems, you may need more support from the mattress.

If you're not staying in a place where a premium is placed on the mattress, you can help ward off the morning-after malaise, said Feinberg, who has suffered back problems most of his life. Having the proper diagnosis and getting guidance from physical therapists and other professionals about what's best will be beneficial in managing your issues, he said. He travels a good bit, and he never fails to follow the exercise routine created with his back in mind.

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