Will Pillow That Is Too Soft or Too Hard Cause Damage To The Back?

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Rotating between extremes is always problematic. This blog uncovers how it harms our backs: one that is too soft or too hard. It also discusses whether we really need pillows, and if we do, what kind of a pillow should we use to combat back pain? So, let’s get the show on the road. 


There is a common misconception in society about pillows. Hollywood movies have unknowingly taught us that the softer a pillow, the more luxurious the experience. While, in my case, my parents have taught me that the harder a pillow, the less back pain I’ll have. Regardless, these two myths about pillows have become widespread amongst different facets of society, and I am here to debunk them. We shall find out which kind of pillow (soft or hard) remains supreme and causes the least amount of damage to our backs. 

Purpose of a Pillow

There are two main reasons that a pillow is used: comfort and support. Comfort and support primarily aid in sleep and enable a regular and comfortable sleeping pattern. When these two conditions work in harmony, you will have not only a good night’s sleep but also no soreness in your neck, back, and shoulders. Without a suitable pillow, all of us would become sleep-deprived, coffee-craving college students.

The softness or hardness of pillows determine the level of support and whether this support is enough to prevent damage to our backs. Here’s everything you need to know.

What do Soft Pillows do?

Imagine if pillows were made out of a pile of feathers. Wouldn’t that be amazing? Well, not exactly. There is a reason why pillows are made from various types of foams, not just soft feathers. For instance, materials that are too soft do not provide enough support for your neck, shoulders, and back. If you happen to sleep on your stomach often, you may get away with no back pain, but you will still have neck and shoulder issues.

So, how do soft pillows damage your back? Your neck and head must be aligned when you sleep so that your body does not end up in an awkward or uncomfortable position. If a pillow is too soft, your head will sink into it, which means there won’t be any alignment. Initially, you will experience back and possible shoulder pain depending on your sleeping position. If it is prolonged, it will begin affecting your spine, which can cause severe back and neck pain.

What do Hard Pillows do?

Pillows that are too hard tend to cause problems as well. Hard pillows are uncomfortable and do not add any real value to your sleeping experience. However, there are some hard pillow enthusiasts who claim that it provides optimal support, but that is not true. 

A very hard pillow can prove to be damaging to your health. While sleeping, hard pillows will not support mobility at all, and you will be forced to deal with exerted pressure on your back and neck. Over time, your back muscles will begin to flex way too much. This is especially problematic if you tend to move around frequently in your sleep. Consistent movement or flexing of the muscles while asleep can cause soreness in the early stages but can lead to spinal injuries over time in certain scenarios. As a result, hard pillows will damage the muscles and the bones in your back, so it is best to steer clear.

How to Know if a Pillow is Too Hard Or Too Soft?

Your pillow needs to have a medium firmness. This is ideal for the health of your back, neck, and shoulders. If you have trouble identifying the firmness of your pillow, try the following to get your answer:

  1. Lie down on your pillow for a few hours. If it flattens or loses shape after you lift your head, it is too soft.
  2. If your pillow has lost its shape over time, it has become too soft due to prolonged use, even if it had a medium firmness in the past. Usually we suggest change the pillow every 2 years. Not just to get the right shape, but also to avoid the mite and bacteria.
  3. If you feel as if your neck is bent upwards and not aligned with your neck, your pillow is probably too hard. When you feel the neck is uncomfortable, it is better to get a medical examination to check whether the curvature of the cervical spine is healthy.
  4. When you lay on a pillow with medium firmness, there is some degree of sinking (but not too much) due to your body weight. This allows the alignment of the head to the neck.
  5. A pillow with medium firmness goes back to its original shape after you get up. Pay attention to the polyester fiber filling pillow, due to the filling material feature, it will lose its shape faster than others.
  6. If you have been waking up with frequent neck, back, or shoulder aches, your pillow does not have the correct firmness. You can chose a pillow which has the 30 trail days, in case of any change.

Final Verdict

As I mentioned before, rotating between two extremes is always problematic. In a pillow spectrum, ones that are too soft or too hard can seriously damage your back. This is mainly because the intensity of hardness or softness determines the support. With a pillow that is too hard or too soft, you will not be able to achieve the right amount of support that your back needs to prevent damage. Because of this, you should not pick a pillow that is too hard or too soft so that your back remains in good health.

What is the Ideal Pillow?

We Mobius offer a range of pillows that have the perfect size, density, and softness. There are even specific options available such as wedges, neck pillows, foot pillows, and even a range of materials like memory foam and gel memory foam. If I had to pick one, I would opt for the Classic Memory Foam Pillow. It is a staple that will suit anyone’s basic needs in a pillow.


Pillows can seem like one of those generic items that don’t require a lot of thought. However, if you pick a pillow with the wrong firmness, you can end up with multiple back issues. You must never pick a pillow that is too hard or too soft regardless of how tempting it sounds because it is not good for your health. It is always best to opt for one with medium firmness. What you determine as the optimal medium firmness depends on the position you sleep in. 

So, next time you go out looking for a pillow, make sure you pick one with the right firmness. Along with this, if you notice that your current pillow is not the right one for you, toss it out now before you further aggravate your back’s health. 

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