Knee pillows are important for proper spinal alignment at night and come in a variety of shapes, such as hourglasses, hearts and cylinders. Good knee pillows will have the right shape, support, and firmness that you need for a good night’s sleep.
In this article, we look at what a good knee pillow has, what to look for when buying a knee pillow, and who a knee pillow would be most useful for.
What is a Knee Pillow?
Knee pillows are meant to make sleeping easier and are made to fit either between the knees or to be placed under one knee or two knees, depending on if you are a side or back sleeper.
The Best Orthopaedic Knee Pillows
What to Look for in a Good Knee Pillow?
Here are the top features you will want to look for when choosing your knee pillow:
- Specifications: Stick to the specs of the pillow, and try to look past any flowery marketing words that companies may use to make you think their pillow is something it’s not.
- Pillow Shape: Know which pillow shape suits you best. Pillows shaped to sit between the thighs or along a person’s calves are ideal for side sleepers. Cylinders and wedge-shaped pillows are better suited for back sleepers who want to put the pillow under their knees.
- Pillow Firmness: Contrary to mattresses, knee pillows are usually described by words as to how firm they are, not by any specific measurements. This can make firmness gauging difficult, and is best circumvented by going into the store and trying to pillow directly.
- Pillow Alignment: How well a pillow aligns your spine while you use it is a big determining factor on if the pillow is good or not. Good pillow alignment is best achieved with the correct amount of thickness and firmness.
- Pillow Materials: You will want to look for high-density memory foam over low-density memory foam as high-density makes a better, more black-aligning pillow.
Pillow Size and Weight: Depending on your intended use, pillows can come in a variety of sizes that are useful for travelling light, or the traditional large size for an at-home pillow.
Our Best Selections
1. ORTHOBLOCK Cooling Knee Pillow
- Elastic strap to maintain the position of the pillow as you sleep
- Cooling gel to help prevent overheating
- Two-year warranty
- Memory foam may smell when first received
- The strap may be tight for some people
The Orthoblock cooling knee pillow has a non-traditional heart-shaped design. This aims to complement the natural contours of the legs and support them in a way that is both comfortable and keeps them in the correct position. The elastic strap helps secure this position as you sleep. It also features a layer of cooling gel to counteract the heat retaining problems that memory foam traditionally has. Its inclusion can help prevent overheating and reduce the chance of sweating as you sleep. Due to its memory foam core, it holds its shape well over time and comes with a 2-year warranty.
The pillow measures 23x25x13cm and weighs approx 600g. It is a popular hit among reviewers, getting comments such as ‘can’t sleep without it’ and ‘First truly restful sleep in 8 years! How did I not find this product sooner?’. A bonus of this pillow is that it also comes with a free health and wellbeing guide, giving various tips including how to make the most of this knee pillow.
Overall Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars from over 150 ratings
Highlights: Cooling memory foam, Elastic strap, 2-year warranty, 100% money-back guarantee, Free Health and wellbeing guide, Heart shape.
2. Elliptical Orthopaedic Leg Pillow
- Thicker than the average knee pillow, helping prevent knee touching
- Comes with a travel bag and washable cover
- Good support to help maintain natural alignment
- Lacks a strap to keep it in place
- It may be too small for some people
The Elliptical Orthopaedic leg pillow features a contoured shape, designed to support the body’s natural alignment and is 20% thicker than traditional knee pillows to prevent the knees from clashing as you sleep. It has a memory foam core that provides a firm level of support which holds its shape well over time.
This pillow is quite light, weighing at only 400g and measuring 26x15x20cm. The cover of this pillow is removable and machine washable so you can easily keep it hygienic and clean. It also comes with a travel bag so you can keep it safely stored away when not in use. One drawback of this pillow is that it does not have an elastic strap to keep it in place around the legs. If you frequently move as you sleep then it may move from the optimal sleeping position during the night.
Overall Rating: 4.3 out of 5 stars from over 200 ratings
Highlights: Removable and washable cover, Includes travel bag, Contoured design
3. Midland Bedding Knee Pillow
- Excellent value
- Easy to clean
- The classic design keeps the spine aligned
- No strap to keep the pillow firmly in place
- Not thick enough for some sleepers
The Midland Bedding knee pillow is a traditionally designed memory foam leg pillow. It is extremely good value and very popular. It has a firm memory foam core and can be used for both sleeping on your side and preventing knee clashing or on your back to provide extra elevation. Due to it being a memory foam core it should hold its shape extremely well over time. The cover on this pillow is also removable and machine washable. The memory foam core cannot be placed in a washing machine though.
It measures 25x14x20cm and has a relatively simple design but has proven to be extremely effective for helping some people’s sleep. Reviewers’ comments include ‘Eased the pain in my hips by helping align my spine in bed. Would recommend’ and ‘Good buy. Can’t recommend this enough.’ A downside of this pillow is that it is not as thick as some of the other designs and so some people may find that it squashes down a little bit too much.
Overall Rating: 4.2 out of 5 stars from over 4,500 ratings
Highlights: Good value, Wedge shape, Removable and machine washable cover, Keeps its shape well.
4. BEAUTRIP Ergonomic Leg Pillow
- The strap keeps the pillow in the correct place well
- Removable, washable cover
- Good customer aftercare
- Can split easier than other pillows
- It may take some time to get used to the firmness
The Beautrip leg pillow has a memory foam core shaped into a heart, this keeps its shape throughout the night and provides support for a wider area of the leg than a traditional knee pillow. It also features an elastic strap that helps keep the pillow in the correct place as you sleep.
This pillow is about the average size for a knee pillow, measuring 25x23x13.5cm. The cover of this pillow is made from cotton and can easily be removed and machine washed. The memory foam core cannot be washed, however. This pillow is highly rated on Amazon with customer comments including ‘Top-notch aftercare and customer service.’ and ‘I felt relief from the first night of using it.’
Overall Rating: 4.3 out of 5 stars from over 2,500 ratings
Highlights: Premium memory foam, Satisfaction guarantee, 1-year warranty, Elastic Strap, Removable and Washable Cover.
5. Sports Medica Doctor Developed Knee Pillow
- Handy strap to keep it in place
- Sleeps cool
- Maintains its shape well
- Includes a handbook
- It may take some time to get used to sleeping with this pillow
- Might not help some back problems
The Sports Medica knee pillow is a similar wedge design as previous knee pillows. This one is slightly larger and includes a strap. This is an excellent inclusion that helps the pillow keep in the correct place as you sleep. The memory foam core provides a firm level of support that keeps the spine in good alignment as you sleep and it holds its shape well over time. A bonus of this pillow is that it includes a handbook that provides condition-specific information and ensures you can make the most of this pillow.
This pillow is slightly larger than the average knee pillow at 26×20.5×16.5cm. It is also 10cm thick at its narrowest point, this gives plenty of space between the knees to stop them from clashing together. Customer comments include ‘Better than non-strap pillow’ and ‘Buy this amazing product’. One downside of this pillow is that the strap is not adjustable so it may not be a perfect fit for everyone.
Overall Rating: 4.4 out of 5 stars from over 3,500 ratings
Highlights: 10-year warranty, Strap to keep the pillow in place, Includes free handbook, Wedge shape
What Types of Knee Pillows Are Available?
Here is a list of all the most common shapes that knee pillows come in:
- Hourglass: A pillow that is thinner in the middle and thicker at the edges.
- Body pillow: A long pillow that’s usually the width of a regular pillow, but twice as long in the length.
- Half-moon: Just like a moon, this pillow is shaped in a cylinder that has one flat edge.
- Cylinder: A round pillow, like two half-moons put together.
- Wedge: These pillows come in the shape of a rounded or pointed triangle.
- Heart: This knee pillow is typically small, shaped in a heart and sometimes comes with a strap to keep it in place.
Do Knee Pillows Work?
Knee pillows are proven to work as they show correct spinal alignment when in use. Without a knee pillow, the upper knee rests on the lower, which can cause misalignment and soreness.
Who Should Use A Knee Pillow?
Here are some of the types of people that could benefit the most from a knee pillow:
- Side Sleepers: Sleeping on your side causes the spine to be out of alignment, and the upper leg puts pressure on the lower leg that can lead to stiffness, pain and aches. A knee pillow between the knees or under the upper knee fixes this issue as it aligns the back and relieves pressure.
- Back Sleepers: Instead of placing the pillow between the knees, back sleepers would place it under their knees as it promotes a proper spinal curve and reduces pressure on the lower back.
- Pregnancy: Those who are pregnant are carrying extra weight, often experiencing back pain or leg cramps. A knee pillow in between the knees and on the side takes the pressure off and promotes proper alignment, helping those who are pregnant sleep better.
- People Experiencing Pain: Those who have back or hip pain may benefit from having a knee pillow as the knee pillow relieves pressure and promotes proper alignment.
Who Shouldn’t Use A Knee Pillow?
Here are some of the types of people that may not benefit from using a knee pillow:
- Active Sleepers: People who move around a lot at night may not benefit from a knee pillow as the pillow will be shifted away and not used most of the night.
- People Who Sleep on Their Stomachs: Knee pillows aren’t necessary for this type of sleep position.
Are Knee Pillows Worth It?
To improve the quality of your sleep and possibly eliminate pain associated with poor sleeping posture, a knee pillow helps as it promotes spinal alignment and takes the pressure off the body while sleeping.
What are the Pros of Using a Knee Pillow?
Here are some of the top ways knee pillows are beneficial:
- Knee pillows help remote blood circulation through the lower part of your body, as it slightly elevates it.
- Knee pillows improve spinal alignment by relieving pressure on points along your hips, lower back, and spine.
- Knee pillows promote hip alignment and are useful for those who are pregnant. Experts say that the best sleeping position for those who are pregnant is on their side, and a knee pillow is an amazing support for spinal alignment and proper blood flow.
- Knee pillows are ideal for relieving hip pressure from the thigh as they can align your knees to the height of your hips. This gives you an overall more balanced and relaxed posture.
- Knee pillows help with snoring and other breathing conditions. When your spine is aligned with a knee pillow, it opens up your airways and allows you to breathe easier, reducing sleep apnea problems and snoring.
What are the Cons of Using a Knee Pillow?
A knee pillow may cause pain to someone who lies on their stomach, as it will stretch the spine at an abnormal angle.
Knee pillows are beneficial for most sleep positions. As long as they are of the proper thickness and firmness you want, they will help you achieve a better night’s sleep and reduce pain.
Last update on 2023-12-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API