Sitters with back pain, any ideas?

Hi all,

I’ve done a couple of sits via THS and several for friends. I’ve had flare ups of sciatica throughout my life and it’s almost completely triggered by soft/lumpy mattresses. Luckily within about half an hour of waking up I can get mobile and the pain reduces almost completely, but it’s not fun!

For my last three sits I’ve slept in guest bedrooms that have had terrible mattresses (I think because HO never test them?!) so on my first long sit I just ended up buying a futon and have slept on that on the floor of the guest bedroom instead (completely confusing a few cats who have come for a cuddle only to find me in the wrong place!) Which is fine for sits where I have a car, but impossible if I’m going abroad which I hope to do in the near future.

Does anyone have any interesting ways to manage sciatic/back pain if the bed isn’t ideal? Or am I destined to sleep on some lovely European floorboards in the future?

Not sure what you can do except being transparent about it with the HO. The HO might offer the master bedroom if it has a harder mattress. PS: There also “mattresses” for camping, but you would still be sleeping on the floor and I don’t find them very comfortable either.


Can you go to a physio & perhaps they may be able to assist w guiding you through certain exercises etc? Physios also do tele health appts :+1:.


Highly recommend these exercises. They really work. Primarily these are yoga movements but used by physiotherapists and chiropractors globally now.
There are numerous wonderful videos and tips on Instagram, FB and YouTube by these practitioners.

Disclaimer: This is not medical advice and solely intended for educational purposes. I am not affiliated with this website. Discuss with your practitioner the implementation of these exercises before attempting.


Use a tennis ball against the wall so the ball is between you and the wall (standing). The ball puts pressure on the painful spots as you slowly move your body up and down the wall. Hope you understand. It was what my physiotherapist directed me to do, plus some stretching exercises that are available on YouTube.

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@ERRa I’ll approach your question from a different direction, with ideas for making the bed more comfortable.

I am particular about the bed, but my issue is usually when the bed is too firm for me. From past experiences, I no longer do sits where the option is a futon or a sofa bed. They just don’t work for me. For this reason, I explain in my video chat and ask specific questions about where I will sleep and try to get an idea of whether it will be workable. I also realize that everyone’s idea of what is a soft or firm mattress varies considerably.

I’ve made some adaptations at a few places where I’ve used whatever I could find to cushion the surface more. Perhaps you could consider something similar, but to make the bed firmer.


My girlfriend actually injured her neck so badly from lying on a pillow that was too high that she still has some pain 2 years later, so nowadays I can fully appreciate how important such things can be to some people! Now she sleeps without a pillow.

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Sciatica is miserable. Sorry you are running into that. I’ve found that when I have a lower back/hip problem, stretches help. There are some psoas and hip flexor stretches on youtube that helped me more than my physical therapist could. And I generally look for a good chiropractor or osteopath in the area in advance, if I’m going to be visiting somewhere longer than 3 days.

That being said, I think a futon would absolutely murder my back. Does it really work for you?

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We use the tennis/rubber ball method for aches and pains, as per @DMJ, and for various parts of or bodies, especially shoulders/necks due to pillows!

We also see chiropractors every 4-8 weeks, just to maintain our good health. Have been doing for the last 20 years, fully believe in maintaining a healthy spine to maintain healthy nerves running through the spine to everywhere else in the body.


Place a pillow between your knees if you’re a side sleeper or under your knees if you’re a back sleeper to maintain proper alignment when you’re sleeping.

When you get out of bed, lie on your side, push up with your arms while lowering your legs. The YouTube exercises posted may also be helpful.

@ERRa I also suffer from intermittent lower back pain and occasional sciatica. I remember having a discussion on the forum about something another sitter used if the bed was not firm enough. I’ve had a hunt and it’s in this thread about what full time sitters travel with and it’s called a thermarest. I haven’t got around to trying one yet so I can’t say personally if it works!

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I occasionally have sciatica flare up and so travel with a foam 50x25 cm cushion. It goes under my lower back (usually one corner/side of it) on the side where the pain is - it stops me sinking into the mattress and reduces/relieves the pain.

When I’m not in pain, I cuddle my cushion when I’m in bed, and it helps me sleep better, as it’s one thing that is (almost) always with me and doesn’t change, so gives a feeling of stability, it’s my “comfort blanket” :grin:.


How about an inflatable bed? They are self inflating and fold up quite small.

I have back and neck issues as well. Only one sit stands out for the pure horribleness of the provided guest mattress. I did let the host know (my back was in spasms after one awful night) and she, reluctantly, bought the cheapest mattress she could find. The store asked me, “Wait, is this for an adult? These are toddler mattresses. Not made for anyone heavier than 40 lbs.” More misery followed. I ended up sleeping the sofa.

I suggest including a statement in your profile about the necessity of a high-quality mattress.