A single step process to design a custom mattress that relieves trunk shear forces

  • Marc Denninger
  • François Martel
  • Denis Rancourt


Back pain is a common complaint that may result from the use of an inappropriate mattress. It can be minimized by using a well suited mattress. This paper presents a method for designing a custom foam mattress in an attempt to reduce back pain for the lateral lying position. Body three-dimensional profile and its mass distribution are both estimated by a simple photographic method. Finite element models are established and precalculated to characterize and predict the interaction between the body and the mattress surface. The process is based on two design performance criteria: a spine curvature in the frontal plane similar to a standing one and a given load distribution along the mattress. The process is validated with three mattresses customized to three individuals. Results show a good fit with numerical predictions according to the two performance design criteria.


Mattress Custom fit Human body profile Polyurethane foam Finite element modelling 



The authors greatfully thank Nicolas Huppé for his help in the design of the experimental apparatus, and the three subjects who participated in the design of the custom made mattresses. We also thank VELUS laboratory from Université de Sherbrooke for the anthropometric measuring platform. This work was funded by Matelas René Inc., Nicolet, Qc, Canada, a hospital and residential mattress manufacturer.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marc Denninger
    • 1
  • François Martel
    • 1
  • Denis Rancourt
    • 1
  1. 1.Groupe PERSEUS, Faculté de Science et Génie, Département de génie mécaniqueUniversité de SherbrookeSherbrookeCanada

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