Remember the children’s song about how the bones are connected? The shin bone’s connected to the thigh bone, the thigh bone’s connected to the hip bone, and so on? The muscles of the human body are connected in a similar way and, believe it or not, a pillow positioned to take pressure off one muscle can help other muscles as well. A knee pillow can help you get a restful night of sleep and minimize pain all day long.
What is a knee pillow?
A knee pillow is a special pillow that is ergonomically designed to help properly align your spine. Positioned between the legs for side sleepers, these pillows help to minimize or even eliminate pain in the lower back, legs, hips, and joints. Knee pillows come in two basic shapes, an hourglass shape to be positioned between your thighs or your calves and a longer shape that is strapped to the length of the leg.
How do knee pillows help?
Knee pillows keep your spine in a neutral position.
When you sleep on your side without a knee pillow, the upper leg pulls on the spine. This creates tension in your lower back and hips. A knee pillow will keep your spine in a neutral position, preventing pain during the night and throughout the day.
Knee pillows reduce pain from disease or injury for better sleep.
If you suffer from a disease or an injury like osteoarthritis, sciatica, scoliosis, or a slipped disk, you might find it difficult to fall asleep due to pain. A knee pillow can reduce this pain, allowing you to fall asleep and stay asleep. A restful and restorative night helps minimize pain.
Knee pillows reduce pressure off the nerves.
When you sleep on your side without a knee pillow, your pelvis is put into a position of rotation. This puts excess pressure on the nerves which can lead to pain. A knee pillow keeps your spine and hips in alignment, eliminating pressure on the nerves.
Knee pillows reduce tension in the leg muscles.
Sleeping on your side without a knee pillow creates extra tension throughout your leg muscles. Because all the muscles are connected, this tension travels up to your back muscles as well. Reducing tension in the leg muscles with a knee pillow will reduce tension in all the muscles.
Who should use a knee pillow?
People with low back pain would benefit from using a knee pillow.
According to the American Chiropractic Association, 31 million Americans experience low back pain. This video explains some of the most common causes of low back pain. A knee pillow can help to alleviate the pain from many of these causes.
People with Osteoarthritis would benefit from using a knee pillow.
According to a study published in the journal Clin Geriatr Med, 10% men and 13% of women aged 60 years or older suffer from Osteoarthritis. This painful joint disorder can disrupt restorative sleep and lead to pain throughout the day. A knee pillow won’t be able to eliminate all the symptoms of the disorder, but it can minimize pain experienced at night to help you get a good night’s sleep. This, in turn, can minimize the amount of Osteoarthritis pain experienced during the day.
Pregnant women would benefit from using a knee pillow.
If you are pregnant, side sleeping is the recommended sleeping position. Because pregnancy can also cause low back pain, using a knee pillow will help. According to the Mayo Clinic, a knee pillow can also help prevent or lessen the effects of varicose veins during pregnancy.
Side sleepers would benefit from using a knee pillow.
According to the U.K. Sleep Assessment and Advisory Service, the majority of people sleep on their sides. Women, in particular, are likely to be side sleepers. Side sleeping is one of the healthier positions to sleep in because it complements the natural curve of the spine. Over time, though, the side sleeping position can lead to some pain in the back and hips. Even if you don’t experience back or other pain right now, a knee pillow can help prevent you ever experiencing this pain in the future.
Do I need a special pillow?
According to the Mayo Clinic, a regular pillow positioned between the legs will do the job. However, knee pillows that have been specially designed for comfort and to ergonomically support the muscles and joints can be even more effective.
What if I’m not a side sleeper?
If you sleep on your back, placing a pillow underneath your knees will have the same effect of promoting a neutral spine and minimizing musculoskeletal tension. If you sleep on your stomach, placing a pillow underneath your hips will also help to reduce tension and pain.