The neck pillow is for neck pain. So the knee pillow must be for knee pain, right? Correct, but only partly. Knee pillows provide relief from not only knee pain but also back and hip pain. If you have pain in any of the three, you might benefit from using a knee pillow between or below the knees, depending on how you sleep.
To choose the best knee pillow, check out our reviews of some of the best in this category. First, however, let’s learn why alignment during sleep and otherwise is important.
Quick Picks: The 5 Best Knee Pillows
Where to Buy
Why is knee and spine alignment so important?
More often than not, those nagging aches and pains in the back, shoulder, neck, or hip occurs because of one reason—misalignment.
Improper alignment in the body results in undue strain on one or more parts. If the bad posture is repeated enough times, pain in the affected area or areas is felt. While pain balms and medication can mask the pain for some time, a correction in the posture can only provide permanent relief.
Depending on which body part is hurting, you will have to practice staying in certain postures and avoiding certain others as you do your daily activities. Not only this, you may also have to modify your sleeping posture to make it more appropriate for you.
When is a knee pillow a good option?
First, just check out this video (...skip to 0:32):
Two most common sleep positions are sleeping on the back and sleeping on the side. Usually back sleepers require thinner pillows but have a variety to choose from. In both positions, a knee pillow is useful in case of back pain. However, the pillow is used differently in each.
Sleeping on the back – The back muscles are connected to the butt muscles and the butt muscles to the hamstring and the hamstring to the knees and so on. The point is body parts are interconnected, and reducing tension in one area relieves stress and pain in another. Placing a pillow under the knees takes tension off them, reducing pain in the lower back area.
Sleeping on the side – When you sleep on the side with one leg over the other, usually the upper legs flops out, rotating the pelvis and throwing off the spine and hip joint alignment. Placing a pillow between the knees raises the upper leg and helps maintain proper alignment.
If you sleep on the side and have the habit of throwing one leg out, you may develop hip pain over time. Place a thick pillow to keep the legs in the right position and to maintain a proper alignment.
Unless advised otherwise, you can continue sleeping on the side after a hip replacement, provided you keep a few things in the mind. One, you must sleep only on the non-operative side.
Second, keep two pillows between your knees. Three, ensure the affected leg does not crosses the midline of the body (if you keep the pillows between the knees, this will automatically happen). Four, do not throw your leg forward in front of you.
Side sleeping is recommended during pregnancy. You can reduce the pressure on your back and hip joint by placing a pillow or two between the legs. You should also try tucking a pillow behind the back as it helps in maintaining the side sleeping position better.
One knee on top of another as you sleep on the side can aggravate soreness or pain in the knees. A pillow in between prevents the knees from rubbing against each other. In addition to keeping the knees apart, a knee pillow improves the circulation of the blood to the legs. This, too, provides reliefs from tension, soreness, and ache in the legs.
Tips for Buying Knee Pillows
Ensure the pillow is firm. If the pillow is too soft, it will go flat in no time and become useless. After all, the very purpose of the knee pillow is to keep the knees apart. Medium firmness works best for most people.
Ensure the pillow is adequately thick. A thin pillow will not be able to maintain a good distance between the legs. Those who are significantly overweight should go for a thicker pillow or use two pillows.
Give preference to memory foam. It contours your body better than most other materials, and so is a good filling option for knee pillows. Another big advantage of memory foam is that it is naturally hypoallergenic and dust mite resistant. When purchasing a memory foam knee pillow, ensure the pillow’s density is 3 lb or above. Anything less would feel too soft and thin. Memory foam that is CertiPUR Certified is better than other types because it is made of safe ingredients. If safety is a priority, you might want to go for a pillow with this seal.
Reviews of a Few of the Best Knee Pillows
Where to Buy
Knee-T Knee Pillow
The Knee-T Knee Pillow is designed for side sleepers with pain in the back, ankles, or hip joints. The pillow relieves back pain by evenly supporting the legs and by keeping them in a neutral position, irrespective of whether you are lying on the right or left side; ankle injuries by isolating ankle and foot; pain in the hip joints by reducing the pressure on them.
The Knee-T Knee Pillow is made in the USA. For some people, purchasing only homemade products is a priority. If you prefer homemade products, you might want to give this pillow a try.
And, oh, did we tell you that the foam used in this pillow is CertiPUR Certified? Yes, it is, meaning it doesn’t contain any harmful without PBDE flame retardants, ozone depleters, harmful metals, formaldehyde, and unapproved phthalates. In short, it is completely safe.
And, yes, being CertiPUR Certified also means the pillow is hypoallergenic. It’s safe for asthma and allergy sufferers too.
Contour Products Memory Foam Leg Pillow with Cover
Thanks to its hourglass shape, the pillow easily fits between the knees. You don’t have to wrestle with it in night to keep it in its place—put it between the knees before sleeping and it will stay there.
The Memory Foam Leg Pillow is on the softer side. This is a good thing because you wouldn’t want a very firm pillow between the knees; otherwise, you may wake up with sore knees. However, those who are bulkier may find the pillow getting compressed under the weight of their knees. If this happens, it would defeat the very purpose of using it. (Knee pillows as you may know are there to keep the knees apart.)
The cover is machine washable, which is a definite advantage. Another plus point is that the pillow is dust mite resistant and hypoallergenic.
Like other memory foam pillows, this one too smells when it’s new. The good thing is the smell, sooner or later, does go away.
EverRelief Side Sleeper Leg & Knee Pillow
The EverRelief Pillow helps relieve back pain, especially lower back pain. Thanks to its ergonomic design, the pillow perfectly fits between the knees for most people. It works by keeping the lower back, legs, hips, and ankle properly aligned, reducing the pressure on your spine and preventing it from getting misaligned.
With about 5 inches thick at the thinnest area, it’s getting compressed between the knees is certainly not something you need to worry about. However, so much thickness may be a disadvantage for shorter or smaller individuals, who may find the pillow separating the knees too much apart, resulting in an unnatural position and maybe even worsening back pain. People of average size or bigger than average size, however, would not face such an issue.
The pillow doesn’t let heat build up, allowing you to sleep comfortably, even in warm conditions. It comes with a soft, removable, and washable cover for easy cleaning.
KNEE-T 100% Memory Foam Knee Pillow
This is a soft pillow, and it is also not as thick as many other knee pillows. If you are on the shorter side or have thin legs, you will find that it keeps the thighs comfortably apart but not too much apart. This is good news, because many knee pillows are downright uncomfortable for shorter and slimmer people, because they create too big a space between the thighs.
However, as the pillow is quite soft and not adequately thick, you are likely to feel it going flat if you are of normal size and weight. For those who are bulkier or bigger, the pillow may fair even worse.
The memory foam used in this pillow is CertiPUR Certified, just like foam used in other KNEE-T foam pillows. This means that the pillow was made using 100% safe materials. If you are stickler for buying completely safe products, you might like to give this pillow a serious consideration.
The Knee-T 100% Memory Foam Pillow is hypoallergenic and dust mite resistant, and so is suitable for people who have asthma or are more likely than others to develop an allergy.
Knee Pillow for Side Sleepers, Beige - by Dreamsweet
The Knee Hip Pillow by Dreamsweet is neither too firm nor too soft. It’s just about the right firmness. It gives you a good support, a must thing for someone with hip or knee pain, and doesn’t cave under the body weight. However this may not be so if you are big and burly.
The Dreamsweet pillow is a little on the smaller side. For petite and normal-sized people, it works fine. Taller, bulkier people might wish it was bigger and wider.
The cover is soft and nice. However, I felt annoyed with the tags as they scratched my legs. I removed them, and the pillow worked alright.
The pillow cover is removable as well as washable. It also comes with a zipper, but it actually doesn’t help because removing and putting the cover back on is really a pain as it is a little too tight.