A wedge pillow for legs can be a useful and versatile tool. It is more cost effective than a hospital bed or mattress wedge, and it is much more stable and functional than stacking pillows. Today, we are are going to go over the top five benefits of using a leg wedge to elevate your lower body.
Benefit #1: Decreases low back pain
Lying down flat on your back is likely causing some undue strain on your spine. If you have any tension or tightness in your hip flexors, then they will pull your pelvis forward when you lie down flat. This creates an arch in your lower back and causes tension and compression in your lumbar spine facet joints. These facet joints are where a lot of spinal movements come from, and if they are compressed at night, you will have pain and stiffness when you move around the next day.
However, using a wedge pillow for legs can change that. Resting your lower body on a wedge pillow for legs will relax your hip flexors. When your hip flexors are relaxed, they can’t pull your pelvis forward and arch your lower back. This means your lumbar spine flattens, providing some much-needed space between your facet joints. When your facet joints relax, they can refresh and rejuvenate overnight.
Sleeping on a wedge pillow for legs is especially beneficial if you have recently had a low back injury, spinal surgery, or if you usually wake up with back pain or stiffness in the morning.
Benefit #2: Improves circulation
Another awesome benefit of a wedge pillow for legs is that it can help return blood flow back to the heart. For conditions like varicose veins, pitting edema, and venous insufficiency, a leg wedge uses the natural effects of gravity to aid the circulatory system with blood flow return.
Prolonged standing and sitting (which most of us do every day) can cause blood to pool in your veins. This makes leg swelling or varicose veins worse. To combat this, take breaks throughout the day to walk and get your blood pumping. Additionally, to give your circulatory system another break, take 15-20 minutes each to to elevate your legs on a knee wedge pillow.
Benefit #3: Aids in recovery from surgery
Having surgery in the knee, ankle, foot, or lower leg can be very debilitating and frustrating, especially when it comes to edema-control. When walking or sitting upright, your surgery site is always in a gravity-dependent position. This means your lower body is constantly working against gravity to transport blood back to the heart.
This task is made even more difficult because edema and swelling from the trauma of surgery can cause compression of the vessels responsible for returning blood. This compression can lead to ischemia, or a lack of blood flow.
You want to avoid any edema-induced compression of blood vessels after surgery. This impedes the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the surgical site. Swelling that just stays in your legs essentially slows down your recovery. Elevating your lower extremities with a knee wedge pillow can reduce edema and swelling to improve the healing ability of these healing tissues.
Benefit # 4: Reading made easier
There’s nothing better than relaxing in bed and reading a great book. To maximize this experience, posture and comfort are very important, especially if you want to read for a long period of time.
For avid readers, a wedge pillow for legs can help you stay comfortable for longer. Using a leg wedge puts less strain on your upper body and neck because it gives your arms and book a place to rest. It also relaxes your back and hips so you don’t get stiff when your read.
Benefit #5: Better sleep
A wedge pillow for legs is beneficial if you have low back pain, swelling in the legs, or are recovering from surgery. An important benefit of a leg wedge is that it improves your quality and quantity of sleep. Because a leg wedge gives your body the ability to completely relax, you can rest better. So many things depend on our ability to sleep well, including our productivity, our mood, and our ability to heal. Sleep is important, and its important that we set ourselves up to sleep successfully!
There are so many benefits to using a wedge pillow for legs. Invest in yourself and let a wedge pillow for legs improve your comfort, sleep, and ability to heal.
-Bryan Blare, Doctor of Physical Therapy