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The Best Knee Pillows for All Your Aches and Pains

Best Knee Pillows
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Updated February 20, 2024

Though I’m a pretty healthy and active individual who exercises on a daily basis, like many other people, I suffer from both knee and back pain. I have a meniscus tear and mild osteoarthritis to blame for the former and a thirty-two year tailoring and pattern making career to blame for the latter. Some mornings, I wake up with more pain than when I went to sleep at night. If you’ve experienced the same, you’ve probably done enough research to know that sleeping on your side can contribute to spine alignment issues that can exacerbate (and sometimes even cause) such pain and that different types of pillows and mattresses can help—one of the most effective being the humble knee pillow.

Knee pillows come in a variety of sizes, shapes, and price points. To help narrow down the best pillows including cooling pillows, latex pillows, and memory foam pillows, I spoke to Dr. Brett Hayden, MD, Assistant Professor of Orthopedic Surgery at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai about what makes for a good knee pillow and how to use one. While Mount Sinai doctors and physicians are not allowed to promote or name specific brands, the following knee pillows are all excellent options for achieving pain-free slumber.

What to consider when buying knee pillow

With so many options available, choosing a knee pillow can be overwhelming. Here are some factors to consider in order to narrow down the options.

Shape

Many knee pillows feature an ergonomically designed shape to better fit (and stay in place) around your knees and calves. Side sleepers generally find that an hourglass contoured pillow works best. Back sleepers may want to consider a cylinder or wedge shape for optimal comfort. If you sleep on both your back and side, like me, experiment with different shapes and support levels to see which works best.

Support

A pillow’s support is determined by its overall thickness and firmness. The thicker a pillow is, the more support it will provide. Think of support as the resistance a pillow has to flattening or compressing when weight is put on it. In this sense, heavier people will likely need a thicker, more supportive option.

Firmness level

Unlike mattresses, knee pillows in general do not follow any industry standard firmness level which means a manufacturer’s description can be very subjective. Usually, the best way to determine if a particular pillow’s firmness matches your needs, is to try it out.

Size

If you travel often, a smaller knee pillow you can toss in a bag may be something you want to consider. I also sometimes find that larger knee pillows have a tendency to get tangled up in the covers in the middle of the night resulting in tossing, turning, and repositioning. Smaller, more compact models are easier to maneuver when changing position resulting in fewer disruptions. Many knee pillows are available in a few sizes suitable for people of differing heights and weights.

Temperature regulation

Many knee pillows are filled with memory foam which tend to trap heat. If you’re someone who sleeps hot, look for a knee pillow with a cover made from a cooling, breathable fabric. Some of the best down pillows can be cooling as well.

Our top picks for the best knee pillows

Most comfortable knee pillow: Everlasting Comfort Knee Pillow

The Everlasting Comfort Knee Pillow features an adjustable and removable strap to hold it in place and a removable, machine washable cover. The memory foam fill is fashioned into an hourglass shape that contours to your body, creating a supportive and soft foundation whether you sleep on your side or back. The included foam earplugs provide an added level of sleep comfort if you find you’re a light sleeper.

Specifications:

  • Fill material: Memory foam
  • Firmness level: Firm
  • Sizes: One size
  • Dimensions: 10 inches (L) x 8 inches (W) x 6 inches (H)
  • Price on publish: $45.99

What we like:

  • Foam earplugs included with each purchase
  • Adjustable, removable strap
  • Machine washable cover
  • Multi-positional

What we don’t like:

  • May be too high for petite users

The bottom line:

Dual concave memory foam knee pillow that can be positioned for back sleepers, and is one of the best pillows for side sleepers.

Most comfortable knee pillow
Everlasting Comfort Knee Pillow

Everlasting Comfort Knee Pillow

Best value knee pillow: Contour Legacy Leg Memory Foam Pillow

Made with ventilated memory foam, the Contour Legacy delivers ergonomic support with a cooling effect, all for a budget-friendly price tag. A center incline contours to the natural curve of your thighs and the bottom is shaped to cradle your pelvis. The tapered edges provide range of movement preventing it from getting tangled in your sheets when shifting position.

Specifications:

  • Fill material: Memory foam
  • Firmness level: Firm
  • Sizes: One
  • Dimensions: 10 inches (L) x 9.5 inches (W) x 6 inches (H) tapering to 3 inches
  • Price on publish: $19.79

What we like:

  • Budget-friendly price
  • Tapered edges
  • Firm support
  • Washable cover

What we don’t like:

  • Only comes in one size

The bottom line:

Budget friendly knee and leg pillow that delivers support for knees, hips, and back.

Best value knee pillow
Contour Legacy Leg Memory Foam Pillow

Contour Legacy Leg Memory Foam Pillow

Best knee pillow for back pain: Back Support Systems Knee-T® Leg Pillow

Unlike the majority of the knee pillows on my list, this one fits under your entire leg from knee to foot, holding them in a neutral position (via leg straps) to deliver support and relief from a variety of conditions including back pain, hip and sciatica pain, poor circulation, ankle injuries, and feet injuries. It’s available in three different sizes and with four different foam fills including a BCool foam which stays cool when hot and warm when it’s cold.

Specifications:

  • Fill material: Regular foam, BCool foam, BCool memory foam, memory foam
  • Firmness level: Firm
  • Sizes: Standard, X-Long, Pro
  • Dimensions 22.5 inches (L) x 10 inches (W) x 3 inches (H): Standard
  • Price on publish: $69.95 - $149.95

What we like:

  • Versatile
  • Available with BCool foam
  • Ankle and foot support
  • CertiPUR-US® certified foam
  • Washable cover

What we don’t like:

  • Some may find it bulky

The bottom line:

A firm, versatile knee pillow that also provides ankle and foot support while holding the legs in a neutral sleep position.

Best knee pillow for back pain
Back Support Systems Knee-T® Leg Pillow

Back Support Systems Knee-T® Leg Pillow

Best cooling knee pillow: Sharper Image Cooling Leg Foam Pillow

With a unique design that consists of an inner foam core sandwiched between two layers of cooling gel foam, this knee pillow from Sharper Image creates cooling stabilization for even the hottest of sleepers. The compact, contoured shape provides stabilization for back, hips, and knees.

Specifications:

  • Fill material: Foam and memory gel
  • Firmness level: Firm
  • Sizes: One
  • Dimensions: 10 inches (L) x 8 inches (W) x 6 inches (H)
  • Price on publish: $69.99

What we like:

  • Made with cooling gel foam
  • Firm inner core for support
  • Machine washable velour cover

What we don’t like:

  • Zipper is a bit flimsy compared to others

The bottom line:

Compact, contoured knee pillow made with cooling gel foam that provides optimal support for the back, hips, and knees.

Best cooling knee pillow
Sharper Image Cooling Leg Foam Pillow

Sharper Image Cooling Leg Foam Pillow

Best knee pillow for spinal alignment: Sleep Number Knee Pillow

Made from a soft, resilient memory foam in a velvety microfiber, removable cover, the Sleep Number knee pillow provides the perfect cradle for your knees. The 4.5-inch height works well for most people as an optimal spinal alignment position. It’s also lighter weight and softer than many of the others on this list. The dark color means it blends in well with its surroundings without screaming, “I’m a medical orthopedic pillow!”

Specifications:

  • Fill material: Memory foam
  • Firmness level: Soft
  • Sizes: One
  • Dimensions: 16 inches (L) x 9.5 inches (W) x 4.5 inches (H)
  • Price on publish: $29.99

What we like:

  • Dark, soft cover
  • Lightweight
  • Soft support

What we don’t like:

  • Zipper makes some noise when tossing and turning

The bottom line:

Soft, lightweight, contoured knee pillow in a compact size with spinal alignment benefits.

Best knee pillow for spinal alignment
Sleep Number Knee Pillow

Sleep Number Knee Pillow

Best pressure relief knee pillow: The Company Store Knee and Leg Posture Pillow

Rectangle shaped and polyester filled, this knee and leg pillow from The Company Store provides knee, ankle, and leg support for both side and back sleepers. Sewn down the middle to create two ergonomic support chambers that help ease joint tension, this pillow is the one most like “traditional” pillows included in this guide, which is why I like it so much. It stays put much better than the small, memory foam versions, and it’s machine washable.

Specifications:

  • Fill material: Polyester
  • Firmness level: Soft
  • Sizes: One
  • Dimensions: 26 inches (L) x 13 inches (W) x 3 inches (H)
  • Price on publish: $55

What we like:

  • Machine washable
  • Rectangle shape for full leg support
  • Keeps it shape

What we don’t like:

  • Could be a little longer

The bottom line:

A rectangle shaped knee and leg pillow made with a polyester fill for excellent support and pressure relief.

Best pressure relief knee pillow
Knee and Leg Posture Pillow - White, Size 26 In. X 13 In. | The Company Store

Knee and Leg Posture Pillow - White, Size 26 In. X 13 In. | The Company Store

Best dense knee pillow: Cushion Lab Side Sleeper Knee Pillow

Fashioned from an extra dense proprietary version of memory foam that Cushion Lab calls ‘Hyperfoam,’ this knee pillow possesses exceptional rebound properties (no flattening out here) in a leg-cradling, supportive shape that helps to ease back pain. The cover is hypoallergenic and breathable, so you’ll never wake up from sweaty legs again. (Believe me, it’s a thing).

Specifications:

  • Fill material: Proprietary Hyperfoam™, CertiPUR-US® certified memory foam
  • Firmness level: Extra dense
  • Sizes: Medium, Large
  • Dimensions: 9.5 inches (L) x 8.5 inches (W) x 5.5 inches (H)
  • Price on publish: $32

What we like:

  • Super dense
  • Excellent rebound properties
  • Breathable
  • Washable cover

What we don’t like:

  • Zipper doesn’t have a flap

The bottom line:

Dense, supportive knee pillow with excellent rebound and breathability.

Best dense knee pillow
Cushion Lab Extra Support Orthopedic Knee Pillow for Side Sleepers – Healthy Alignment Leg Pillow for Sleeping – Hip, Pregnancy, Sciatica, & Back Pain Relief - Memory Foam Contour Wedge – Large Size

Cushion Lab Extra Support Orthopedic Knee Pillow for Side Sleepers – Healthy Alignment Leg Pillow for Sleeping – Hip, Pregnancy, Sciatica, & Back Pain Relief - Memory Foam Contour Wedge – Large Size

Best adjustable knee pillow: Coop Home Goods Orthopedic Knee Pillow

The orthopedic knee pillow from Coop Home Goods features removable one and two inch memory foam inserts, so you can achieve the optimal height for your frame and position. Simply unzip the machine washable cover and remove an insert as needed. Ergonomically shaped (this one is contoured to resemble an hourglass), it provides pressure relief and a solid base for your top leg to rest when in a side sleep position.

Specifications:

  • Fill material: CertiPUR-US® certified memory foam
  • Firmness level: Firm
  • Sizes: One
  • Dimensions: 12 inches (L) x 7 inches (W) x 8 inches (H)
  • Price on publish: $40

What we like:

  • Adjustable
  • Great for side sleepers
  • Hypoallergenic
  • Dust mite resistant

What we don’t like:

  • Some users may find it too big

The bottom line:

Firm, hourglass shaped knee pillow with removable inserts to adjust thickness and density.

Best adjustable knee pillow
Coop Home Goods Orthopedic Knee Pillow

Coop Home Goods Orthopedic Knee Pillow

Best travel knee pillow: Tempur-Pedic All Purpose Pillow

The Tempur-Pedic All Purpose Pillow is fashioned from the company’s TEMPUR-Material™ which continuously adapts to the users weight, shape, and temperature while providing both pressure relief and support. Effective as a neck roll, lumbar support, and knee pillow, this little peanut shaped pillow is the perfect travel companion. It’s even equipped with a handy carrying strap.

Specifications:

  • Fill material: TEMPUR-Material™
  • Firmness level: Firm
  • Sizes: One
  • Dimensions: 13 inches (L) x 5 inches (W)
  • Price on publish: $49

What we like:

  • Travel sized
  • Multiple uses
  • Carry strap
  • Washable cover
  • 5-year limited warranty

What we don’t like:

  • Only comes in one color

The bottom line:

Peanut shaped travel pillow that works as knee support, lumbar support, and neck roll.

Best travel knee pillow
Tempur-Pedic All Purpose Pillow

Tempur-Pedic All Purpose Pillow

How we selected the best knee pillows

I’ve personally tried a variety of knee pillows over the past year and have based these recommendations on that experience, in addition to extensively researching online user reviews. I also took into consideration company profiles, materials used in manufacturing, ease of ordering, customer service, and price point to compile a list of the best pillows for the largest number of people.

What is a knee pillow?

Knee pillows are designed to provide enhanced comfort while sleeping by holding a person’s body in a comfortable position that promotes spinal alignment and relieves unnecessary pressure on joints—your knees, specifically. While a regular bed pillow can certainly be used, knee pillows are smaller in size and usually ergonomically designed to better cradle your legs without flattening.

Who should use a knee pillow and why?

According to Dr. Hayden, knee pillows are useful in two major ways. First, when laying on your back, achieving a gentle knee flexion or bend with a pillow relieves pressure on the low back. For this reason, many patients with low back pain and/or lumbar stenosis find relief with a knee pillow.

Dr. Hayden also explained that pillows placed between the knees can reduce stress on the medial (or inner) portion of the knee which is the most common site of knee arthritis pain. Knee pillows also reduce stress on the hips and back.

“Many patients feel that a pillow between the knees corrects their overall posture,” Dr. Hayden said.

Available types of knee pillows

The majority of knee pillows are constructed from ergonomically-cut memory foam which contours to your body shape, most often fashioned in an hourglass. There are also larger sized, rectangular knee pillows that provide cushion for your entire leg, as opposed to just the knee area.

Body pillows are another option. They are most commonly the same width as a traditional pillow and twice as long, allowing the user to not only place them between the knees but also wrap their arms around it.

Cylinder and wedge-shaped pillows are most commonly used by back sleepers by placing them under their knees. There are also heart shaped pillows that fit between the knees and are held in place with a strap.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Does the shape of the knee pillow make a difference in terms of comfort?

The optimal knee pillow shape depends on the individual. There are numerous knee pillows available, from one to two regular pillows between the legs, specialty memory foam contoured pillows, and knee sleeves that have extra padding. “The choice of the right pillow is really a personal one,” said Dr. Hayden. “Many patients have to try out multiple options until they find the right fit.”

Are knee pillows good for arthritic knees?

According to Dr. Hayden, symptoms of knee arthritis, hip arthritis, hip bursitis, or tendonitis can all be alleviated with a knee pillow.

“Many patients with knee arthritis have pain on the inside (or medial compartment) of the knee,” Dr. Hayden said. This means that when you lie on your side, the insides of your knees can touch and become painful.

Dr. Hayden mentioned a focus group study of 123 patients with hip or knee osteoarthritis who assessed incidences of night pain, in addition to treatment strategies for pain reduction. They found that most patients, greater than 80%, experience night pain. Many patients with moderate to severe knee osteoarthritis pain use pillows in between the knees as an adaptive treatment to relieve pain.

Can I use a regular pillow as a knee pillow?

Yes. According to Dr. Hayden this is by far the most popular technique with most people finding that one to two pillows normally do the trick.

How to use a knee pillow

Lie on your side with your knees slightly bent. Place the pillow between your knees, so that your upper thigh is elevated to the point that your hips are in a neutral position.

For back sleepers, place the pillow under your knees and lower thighs for support while keeping your butt flush with the bed.

The information presented here is created independently from the TIME editorial staff. To learn more, see our About page.

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