What is a knee Pillow?
A knee pillow refers to any pillow that is designed to sit between your knees or thighs, keeping your legs separated and supported in the side sleeping position.
Just want to know our top picks?
|Best Knee Pillow For…||Brand|
|The Average Sleeper||Cushy Form Knee Pillow|
|Larger Legs||Cushy Cloud Large Knee Pillow|
|Smaller Legs||Medx Knee Pillow|
Otherwise keep reading to learn more about knee pillows as well as detailed information on our recommendations.
How A Knee Pillow Benefits You
There are three main reasons that you would want to use a knee pillow while you sleep:
1. For correct posture – As a side sleeper, the number of pillows you should sleep on is two. One supporting your head, and one between your knees, keeping them separated.
Without any support between your knees, your upper leg is free to pull on your spine, which leads to stress placed on your hips and lower back.1 A pillow between your knees keeps your legs in a neutral position while you sleep, preventing you from waking with hip or back pain.
2. For Comfort – Do you suffer from sciatica, scoliosis, slipped disks, osteoarthritis or any other injury that causes agony in the side sleeping position? A pillow wedged between your knees or thighs can provide relief, so that you can easily fall asleep at night.
3. A compact solution – While you could use a body pillow to keep your legs separate, these larger pillows take up an awful lot of bed space. So much so that sleeping with a partner can be awfully squashy. Knee pillows barely take up more space than your body, allowing you and your partner to sleep comfortably at night.
Who Are Knee Pillows Unsuitable For?If you sleep in any position other than on your side, a knee pillow will be unable to support your legs.
So what other options are there?
If you sleep on your back or stomach then an abduction pillow is a great way to keep your legs and knees separated. These pillows are often recommended for those who are recovering from hip surgery.
Types Of Knee Pillows
While many knee pillows look similar, they actually come in a large range of shapes and sizes. Despite this, knee pillows typically fall into one of two categories:
1. Hourglass Knee Pillow
The cheapest and most common type of knee pillow is shaped like an hourglass. This pillow is contoured to rest comfortably between your legs, and is less likely to slide out during your sleep than a flat pillow.
Due to the contoured shape you can rest the pillow anywhere along your leg line and your knees will remain separated.
You can rest the knee pillow between your thighs like so…
Or you can move the pillows down to your lower legs. However you feel comfortable!
Now let’s take a look at the other, much less common type of knee pillow you can purchase…
2. Strap On knee Pillows
Strap on knee pillows are much larger than contoured knee pillows. Resembling an ice hockey shin guard, the pillow features a strap that attaches to one of your legs, to stop the pillow from moving around throughout the night.
While they may look like a simple design, the strap on variety is the most expensive of the two types of knee pillows. While you can come across cheaper strap on knee pillows that are half the size, these are no more effective than the contoured knee pillow
The large sized strap on knee pillows can be worn in two different ways. If you sleep in the fetal position, then the knee pillow is worn on the lower leg, starting at the knee.
However, if you prefer to sleep with your legs out straight then the knee pillow can be worn higher, so it sits at your groin.
As you would expect, given the size of these pillows, turning over in the middle of the night can prove to be difficult. Especially with your sheets and comforter further restricting your movements.
It is also worth mentioning that many large strap on pillows come in multiple sizes, to suit long or short legs.
The Best Hourglass Knee Pillow
Nearly all strapless knee pillows we tested had a similar shape, that of an hourglass. This shape appears to be the most reliable for both separating your legs and staying in place throughout the night.
The main difference between our top picks and our runners up choices is the material cover and the density of the foam.
Cushy Form – Best All-round Knee Pillow
- Length: 9.45”
- Width: 8.25”
- Height (Contour point): 3.5”
- Height (Tallest point): 5.5”
For the average sized sleeper, the Cushy Form is perfect. A comfortable shape that neatly conforms to your legs combining comfort and support.
The memory foam found inside dense, supportive, and did not squash throughout the night. Hips remained supported and legs were kept separated through to the morning,
Interestingly, the arc of the pillow, where your legs rest, was the most gradual of the knee pillows, and this added immensely to the comfort. Thick and thin legs alike could comfortably hold the pillow between them.
While the case is white, the material is durable and held up just fine over the weeks of testing.
The packaging also doubles as a storage case with a handle, should you need to take it on your travels. No other knee pillow came with this feature, and while it is only situationally useful, it’s inclusion will definitely appeal to some of you.
But if you need a larger knee pillow then we have a more suitable suggestion for you…
Cushy Cloud – Best Large Knee Pillow
- Length: 10.8”
- Width: 8.66”
- Height (Contour point): 3.5”
- Height (Tallest point): 6.7”
If you are looking for a large sized knee pillow then Cushy Cloud has you covered. It also offered great support for the back, hips and knees with the foam being the firmest out of the knee pillows we tested.
The thick foam barely compresses when weight is placed upon it, and could almost be described as “stiff”.
Now the only thing to be mindful is that the dense memory foam makes it feel somewhat hard, particularly if you are used to sleeping with soft pillows. But the role of a knee pillow is support, and the dense foam found in the Cushy Form does just that without apologies.
The shallow curve of the pillow is perfect for larger legs. One of our testers was a gym junkie with particularly muscly legs, and found that this knee pillow was both comfortable and supportive. On the other side of the fitness spectrum, this pillow would feel just at home wedged between obese legs.
Despite being made of microfiber, the cover slept ever so slightly cooler than other knee pillows with polyester covers. And the darker colored material didn’t yellow or turn noticeably funky after just a few weeks of use.
Our only gripe with the cover is that the zipper extends across two panels of the cover. If you have sensitive skin then you may find the zipper scratchy and uncomfortable if your thighs brush against it.
Cushy Cloud also offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee, enabling you to return your pillow if you are not satisfied with it’s quality or comfort.
MedEx Knee Pillow – A Softer Option
- Length: 9.65”
- Width: 7.5”
- Height (Contour point): 3.5”
- Height (Tallest point): 6.3”
Our final top pick for the hourglass knee pillows is this model from MedX, a manufacturer of medical rehab equipment.
Now while our previous recommendations were made of dense and supportive memory foam, this knee pillow is slightly softer and compresses easier. If you want a soft yet supportive knee pillow then this is your best choice.
We found this memory knee pillow particularly suited to small/petite bodies or those of you with slender legs, particularly women. These same testers complained that the firmer knee pillows were uncomfortable and separated their knees to an awkward position.
Larger legged testers were able to squash the pillow to a point where it barely kept legs separated. Stick to our other top picks if you have large or heavy-set legs.
Other Hourglass Pillows That Didn’t Make The Cut…
The following are pillows we tested but fell short in one way or another
Contour Products Original Leg Pillow – The polyurethane foam failed to support all but the lightest of legs. Even among these users, testers noted the foam compressed quickly, flattening like a pancake and losing it’s contoured shape.
ComfiLife Orthopedic Knee Pillow – A cheap imitation of the Medex pillow. Same size, shape and material cover. However, the foam inside was less supportive than the Medex branded pillow. The pillow case was also torn due to sloppy embroidery on the logo.
Carex Memory Foam Knee Pillow – One of the few knee pillows we tested that didn’t come with a white fabric case. That said, the blue material blatantly pilled, and the support was on the softer side, compressing more than our top picks.
InteVision Knee Pillow – The only knee pillow we tested to come with a cotton cover, and a 400 thread Egyptian cotton one at that. However, the cover was loose and failed to properly fit the unusually contoured shape of the knee pillow. The polyurethane foam was soft and was only suitable for lighter legs.
Bicor Between The Knees Pillow – Shaped to rest right between the knees, Bicor’s pillow was a completely different shape to the other knee pillows we tested. While it didn’t trap heat, the pillow was much less supportive and felt a little lumpy compared to our top picks.
Best strap on knee pillow
Strapping a knee pillow so that it stays in place throughout the night sounds like a much better idea, right? Unfortunately, we found the performance of all strap on knee pillows to be somewhat disappointing.
Fit was the most common problem. Those with elastic straps were often too loose, allowing the pillow to move throughout the night. Knee pillows that relied on Velcro straps would leave scratchy exposed sections of Velcro if they didn’t fit perfectly.
We recommend these pillows with reservations. At the time of writing this there was no strap on knee pillow that completely “wowed” us. Try at your own risk.
Essential Medical Supply Knee Seperator
- Length: 9.25”
- Width: 7.5”
- Height (Contour point): 3.15”
- Height (Tallest point): 5.3”
If you want an hourglass knee pillow that straps to your knee then this is as good as it gets. But it isn’t a one-size fits all option. Those of you with larger legs will be better suited to the Knee-T pillow below.
This pillow comes in two different varieties, a soft memory foam model and a standard polyurethane foam model. This is the only time we actually found the standard foam to be more supportive and firm than the memory foam option.
The strap wraps around the thigh and does a great job of holding the pillow in position, even when tossing and turning through your sleep.
Knee-T Medical Grade Memory Foam Knee Pillow
- Length: 22.6”
- Width: 9.85”
- Height: 3.15”
While Knee-T does offer a cheaper standard polyurethane foam, it was on the springy side and failed to conform to our testers legs. This seemed to contribute to the pillow sliding around during sleep.
If you have to buy a Knee-T we recommend the memory foam option. Since it conforms to the shape of your legs. Testers agreed that this model felt more comfortable to sleep on.
The main benefit of the Knee-T is that it supports a larger section of your leg than hourglass shaped knee pillows. Some testers found the lack of an air-gap between the legs much more comfortable.
However, for the price, we would recommend testing a regular pillow between your knees before taking the plunge on one of the most expensive knee pillows available.
Strap On Knee Pillow Runners-up
KneeSleeper Leg Support Pillow – One of our testers brought this in from home. You wear it similar to an open footed stocking. Despite showing some promise, testers agreed that the pillow was on the thin side.
Bicor Between The Knees Pillow – Another pull on knee cushion, but a smaller size. If all you need is a pillow to stop your knees touching (such as Fibromyalgia sufferers) this is perfect. But it there isn’t enough padding to keep your hips aligned and your spine straight.
Knee Support Leg Cushion – A padded pillow that slides over the knee. While it may have provided a padded area for your knees to rest, it didn’t help keep testers hips aligned or spine straight. It may be suitable for Fibromyalgia where the pain is localized to the knees.
Smart Knee Pillow Expensive, impractical, And covered in a material that attracts pet hair. While it was nice that you could wear this pillow without a strap (although one is included) it squashed easily and didn’t fit larger legs.
Foam or memory foam
There are two different types of materials used memory foam and the standard polyurethane foam. Both types of foam knee pillows are available at a similar price point.
We found memory foam to be more supportive, compressing less than the standard foam. It’s ability to conform to the shape of your legs also meant that it shifted around less during restless sleep.
However, because memory foam conforms to your body, less air is able to circulate around the knee pillow. This does result in the memory foam sleeping slightly hotter than regular foam.
Note – We also tested a cooling gel infused memory knee pillow, by Millard. While it claimed to sleep cooler, the thermal images showed a near identical temperature to standard memory foam.
Knee pillow covers
For some inexplicable reason, the covers on most knee pillows suck. I don’t know why this is a trend for knee pillows, but most brands chose a white fabric for their knee pillow cover.
Just like your regular pillow will eventually turns a yellow color, so will your knee pillow. Wedged between your hot thighs, the sweat and oils from your skin can soon discolor your knee pillow.
While most knee pillows come with a zippered removable cover, they stain and wear easily. To this end we recommend using a standard pillow case over the top of your knee pillow, keeping it clean and hygienic.
Now because of the odd shapes of knee pillows, a rectangular pillow case isn’t going to be the greatest fit. But you can simply fold the excess away underneath the pillow when you place it between your knees.
A Quick Note About Removing Tags
You may notice that some knee pillows come with a tag attached to the cover, some of them are obnoxiously long. The worst part about these tags is that they can scratch or irritate your skin in the middle of the night.
Extreme care must be taken when removing these tags. Because the tag is sewn directly into the seam, removing the tag can tear a hole in the knee pillow cover.
If the tag doesn’t annoy you, we recommend leaving it on. Otherwise, use a pair of scissors to cut the tag as close to the seam as possible, without cutting into it.
Please note, our top rated hourglass knee pillows do not come with tags. The strap-on picks, however, do.
And the smell
Memory foam knee pillows may give of a foul odor when you first open the packaging. This is a normal characteristic of memory foam, and leaving the pillow to air for a couple of days at most will see the smell almost entirely eliminated.
What pillow do you use to keep your knees separated at night? Let me know in the comments below!