Cushion for knees: Use and advice (physiotherapist opinion)

knee cushion

Chronic pain, heavy legs, back pain… Is sleeping on your side a good idea? Can the knee pillow give you relief? How to choose it? Answer in this article.

Did you know that 80% people with chronic low back pain also have sleep problems? And when we know we're passing by 1/3 of our life lying down, or more than 250.000 hours, it makes sense to take sleep quality seriously.

But then who is responsible in all this, the mattress, the cushion, the position...? Answer… a bit of everything! So will a knee pillow improve your symptoms or at least relieve the pain? Certainly, let’s discover this in more detail…

Pain, back pain… which is the cause?

It is not uncommon for symptoms related to back pain while sleeping appear on waking. Reflex #1 is to blame your mattress or cushion. However, the mattress, cushion or sleeping posture are generally only aggravating elements or triggers.

The origin is often found in bad lifestyle habits and lack of movement. which are the main causes of back pain. Using a knee pillow will therefore not cure the cause of your pathologies, however it is very useful for relieving pain and promoting healing, especially at night in a side position.

A solution for your pain: Place a cushion between your knees

Many people enjoy the benefits of a knee pillow while they sleep. For example, side sleepers and pregnant women often opt for these knee pillows.

Some people use traditional pillows. Although it may be comfortable and inexpensive, an orthopedic knee pillow is specially designed to provide maximum comfort while being less cumbersome and much more suitable.

Benefits of the knee pillow

Using a knee pillow will have multiple benefits, especially for people who sleep on their side. It will help you relieve pressure and align your spine. But that's not all, here are its main benefits:

  • Promotes blood circulation in the lower part of the body
  • Improves the alignment of the spine
  • Promotes hip alignment and blood circulation during pregnancy
  • Reduces knee and lower back pain
  • Adopt a symmetrical position during sleep
  • Reduce pressure and relieve pain

Who is the knee pillow for?

You can use an orthopedic knee pillow to relieve many conditions and pains, and is useful for many people, including:

  • In case of back pain
  • Following an operation (hips, lumbar, knees, etc.)
  • For pregnant women
  • For side sleepers
  • If you have a sciatica, cruralgia
  • In case of poor blood circulation, varicose veins…
  • During restless sleep

How to use your knee pillow?

A knee cushion is good, but well positioned is better! This type of pillow can be placed between the legs for side sleepers or under the knees for back sleepers.

On the side

Place the cushion between your knees by passing the strap around your thigh or calf as if you were putting on pants, it will keep the cushion in its position during the night and prevent it from slipping or falling out of bed.

Keeping a cushion between the legs reduces lumbar torsion.

If you ever experience pain in one leg, it is best to sleep on your side so that you have symptomatic leg up. (Example: if the pain radiates into the left leg, try to sleep on the right side to keep the left leg up).

This reduces the load on the symptomatic leg, and sometimes even reduces numbness when present.

On the back

Place the pillow on your bed at knee level.

Lie on the bed and adjust the knee pillow so that it sits just above your knees. Make sure you have adequate support for your neck to maintain a comfortable posture.

You can also place a cushion under your legs to relieve pressure on leg muscles while you sleep.

How to choose your knee pillow

You want to buy a hip/knee cushion, here are some selection criteria that may be interesting to take into account:

  • The weight : Please only take a rather thick and firm model if you are heavier than average. Otherwise a cushion like the one mentioned below will be fine.
  • Shape / structure: There are different shapes of knee pads, there is no particular rule, some have a square shape, others more rounded. It is true that the shape can be interesting to take into account if you want to place the cushion between your thighs (wide enough), or really at the knees or calves and even feet (smaller and more discreet).
  • Materials

Generally the majority of these cushions will be made with a memory foam to maximize comfort. The other options like gel are not significant and remain a personal preference. A tether strap comes with some models (be careful not to tighten it too much so that it does not bother you, which could cause cramps when you wake up).


So ! I hope you are now more educated on the knee pillow. Do not hesitate to take a look at this article to learn more about sleep and back pain.

If you suffer from back pain, do not neglect the use of such a cushion, it can help relieve your pain and encourage your healing.

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