What is a Knee Pillow? - A Detailed Guide

Millions of people are benefitting from the use of knee pillows.

What is a Knee Pillow? - A Detailed Guide

Explained simply, a knee pillow is a contoured pillow with a unique design that gives sleepers the comfort dreams are made of. Knee pillows help improve posture, reduce pain and inflammation, and eliminate discomfort caused by conditions like sciatica, arthritis, pregnancy, etc.

In this guide, we will discuss everything there is to know about knee pillows, their benefits, disadvantages, and features to consider when selecting one.

What is a Knee Pillow?

What is a Knee Pillow? - A Detailed Guide

Knee pillows, as the name suggests, is a specially contoured pillow that you place between your knees while sleeping.

Its unique contouring aligns the spine, reduces back pain, and improves posture during sleeping. Knee pillows are especially recommended for pregnant women, patients with chronic back pain, sciatica, and even insomnia.

Many people who use these special pillows report healthier and more comfortable sleep, reduced aches and pains, stress elimination, and boosted productivity during the day.

Who Can Benefit from the Use of Knee Pillows?

Knee pillows are recommended for people with the following issues or conditions:

  • People suffering from chronic back, hip, knee, sciatica, or joint pain, arthritis, etc.
  • Pregnant women who have trouble sleeping on their backs and are forced to sleep on the sides due to their growing belly
  • Insomniacs or people that have trouble falling asleep
  • Multi-position sleepers – back, side, or even belly sleepers
  • Those with swollen legs or feet edema
  • People with stress
  • Injured people, athletes
  • Patients who have just had back/hip/knee surgery

Like leg pillows, knee pillows support the knee, joint and hip, back, spine, and legs and thighs. It is beneficial for men and women of all ages.

Types of Knee Pillows

What is a Knee Pillow? - A Detailed Guide

Knee pillows are mainly classified based on their shapes or the materials used. You can get the following shapes in these pillows:


As the name indicates, the heart-shaped knee pillow is shaped like a heart and may or may not have straps for securing your legs during sleep. This shape is recommended for people suffering from back, knee, leg, hip, joint, and sciatica nerve pain. It is also recommended for pregnant women and supports multiple sleep positions.

Heart-shaped knee pillows support the legs, knees, and back, and correct the spine’s natural alignment to improve sleep posture.

Semi-roll shaped

The best part about the semi-roll=shaped pillow is that it can be even used under the neck and not just between the knees. Moreover, it also supports leg and foot elevation in case you have to elevate them to reduce edema or swelling.

Roll-shaped bolster pillows are also recommended for back and side sleepers and can be used to support the back, lumbar region, hips, knees, joints, spine, neck, head, and for relief from sciatica pain.


The wedge-shaped knee pillow can be useful for correcting sleep posture. It also relieves pain caused by arthritis, back, knee, hip, joint, post-surgical pain, injury-related pain, athletic or workout pain relief, pregnancy, etc. The wedge pillow supports the natural curve of the back and corrects spinal alignment to improve posture.

Memory foam

Most knee pillows come with memory foam filling that supports natural body contours. They retain their shape despite how you use them.


Gel-filled pillows are especially beneficial for inflammatory and painful conditions like arthritis, post-surgical pain relief, knee-replacement patients, sciatica sufferers, etc. The hypoallergenic, non-toxic gel diffuses body heat and cools the skin to relieve pain.

Benefits of Knee Pillows

What is a Knee Pillow? - A Detailed Guide

Knee pillows have the following advantages:

Correct sleep posture

By placing the knee pillow between your knees, you can correct your spine’s natural alignment. Side sleepers do not sleep properly, as they end up putting pressure on the hips, twisting, and even touching the knees together. All these can cause misalignment and can also put pressure on your back and hips.

Knee pillows cushion the knee joints and prevent twisting of the spine. This corrects the spine’s natural alignment and helps relieve unnecessary pressure on the joints as well.

Supports lower body

Side sleepers invariably exert a lot of pressure on their spine, knees, and leg muscles. This, over time, causes pain, inflammation, and poor sleep quality.

A knee pillow supports the lower body, opens the hips, realigns the spine, and adjusts the legs to improve blood circulation.

Eliminates pain and inflammation

With regular use of knee pillows, you realign your spine, open your hips, and reduce pain and inflammation. You can also opt for gel-based pillows that can cool your aching knees and further alleviate pain.

Beneficial for pregnant women

Knee pillows can be especially beneficial for pregnant women who are unable to sleep on their backs during the last trimester of pregnancy. These pillows prevent chaffing of the skin between the thighs and also reduce back pain caused by the growing fetus.

Disadvantages of Knee Pillows

What is a Knee Pillow - A Detailed Guide

Heavy, stiff, and cumbersome

Some knee pillows are made with a lot of extra padding, covers, insulation layers, etc. These tend to make the pillows heavy, stiff, and cumbersome.

Sizing issues

Many users find standard-sized knee pillows too large. They can cause discomfort and even aggravate pain.

Locks the knees in place

Pillows with straps lock the legs and knees in place which can be uncomfortable for some users.

Causes pressure on the ankles

Some users believe that knee pillows tend to put unnecessary pressure on their ankles. This is because they line up the legs but pull down the feet which can hurt the ankle bones.

Does not work for all conditions

Manufacturers of top-rated knee pillows always warn users that these pillows may not work for all conditions. Moreover, they could take time to eliminate symptoms of pain, and some people might take several nights of use to adjust to them as well.

How to Select Knee Pillows

What is a Knee Pillow? - A Detailed Guide

If your doctor has recommended knee pillows due to chronic inflammation or painful conditions, then consider the following features before you select one:

Size and shape

As mentioned earlier, knee pillows can come in different shapes and sizes. Select one that is best suited for your condition. Your doctor can also guide you. Heart, wedge, and bolster pillows are all ideal for correcting posture, realigning the spine, and reducing pain and pressure on the joints.

Look for an ergonomic design that will improve your sleep quality, correct spinal alignment and posture, and improve blood circulation.

Wedge=shaped pillows typically measure 9.8 x 7.9 x 6.3 inches, which is ideal for an average-sized man or woman.

Premium materials

Choose pillows made using 100% premium memory foam to ensure maximum support to your joints. The material should retain shape for a long time and not go flat after use.

Breathable and washable

Look for pillows that come with washable, removable covers. The materials should also be breathable and not cause sweating or hot spots on the user’s body during sleep.

With or without straps

Some users prefer pillows with straps to lock the legs in place. Others might need to move their legs in their sleep. Select according to your preference.

FAQs on Knee Pillows

1. Do knee pillows really work?

Yes, knee pillow users claim  they have improved their sleep posture, reduced backaches, and gotten better sleep. Side sleepers can especially benefit from knee pillows because they prevent unnecessary pressure on the hip, spine, and knee joints. Many factors can play a role in determining whether the pillows work or not: their thickness, quality, etc.

2. Is it good to sleep with a pillow between the knees?

Yes. Side sleepers often end up with back pain since their upper legs pull the spine out of alignment and end up exerting unnecessary pressure on the hips. Side sleepers also end up twisting their hips sometimes. By placing a pillow between the legs, one can reduce unnecessary pressure and twists to considerably reduce pain and discomfort.

3. Do knee pillows relieve back pain?

Yes, to some extent, knee pillows can relieve back pain because they help correct sleep posture and improve spine alignment. Many side sleepers end up hurting their back because their upper leg pulls and twists the spine out of its natural alignment. Over time, this can cause backaches.

By placing a knee pillow between the knees, you can prevent this twisting and misalignment.

Some doctors also recommend knee pillows for people suffering from sciatica, chronic lower back pain, arthritis, as well as post-surgical pain relief, etc.

4. Where do you place a knee pillow?

Find a comfortable position on your side or back, then place the contoured knee pillow in between your knees or under the knees if you sleep on your back. If there are straps, you can attach them to prevent leg movement. Some people also use knee pillows under their feet to elevate their ankles and reduce swelling or edema of the feet. You can also place knee pillows under your neck to relieve neck pain.


A knee pillow is a pillow that has a special contouring or shape that provides optimal comfort and support to the knees. You can use it between or under the knees to correct spinal alignment, improve posture while sleeping, and also reduce backaches, joint pain, knee pain, or hip pain, etc.

It is especially beneficial for pregnant women or for people that have issues with their back, hips, knees, or joints.

We hope this guide helps you select the right knee pillow for your comfort.

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