A knee pillow for side sleeping is essential when sleeping on your side. Unfortunately, most people choose the wrong leg pillow for side sleeping and don’t get the support they need. Keep reading to learn from a physical therapist what to look for in a knee pillow for side sleeping so you get proper body alignment and maximize your restorative sleep!
The purpose of a knee pillow for side sleepers
Did you know that when you sleep on your side without a knee pillow for side sleeping, you are putting strain on your hips, knees, and lower back? In fact, if you are a side sleeper and are waking up with hip, low back, or knee pain, it likely has to do with an incorrect sleeping position.
The purpose of a knee pillow for side sleepers is to provide full body alignment so you sleep without strain on your joints and muscles. When you are standing, it’s easy to see the natural contours of your body. For some, the outside of the hip bone sticks out wider than the waist. For others, the waist is wider than the outside of the hip. The difference in prominence between your waist and the outside of your hip creates natural curves or contours.
When you lie down on your side, these contours do not go away. Instead, your spine, joints, and muscles are subject to gravity's pull on your curves. This results in a curved spine, strained joints and taut muscles. Maintaining this unsupported position all night almost guarantees morning hip pain, back pain, knee pain, or a combination of all three.
Which knee pillow for side sleeping to AVOID
To solve this problem, you need a knee pillow for side sleepers that restores the alignment of your joints and muscles. And it’s NOT a small wedge like this one:
A knee pillow like the one above does NOT offer enough support for sleeping on your side. It does NOT restore alignment to your lower body and it does NOT fully reduce the pull of your muscles on your back. When you sleep with this unsupportive knee wedge, there is still a significant downward angle from your hip to your knee, and from your knee to your ankle. This means your muscles will be strained while you sleep so you may still wake up with back or hip pain.
The best knee pillow for side sleepers
The best knee pillow for side sleepers should support the full weight of your top leg so that your muscles and joints don’t have to do any work. Remember: any downward angle from your hip to your ankle means that your muscles are in a strained position. The best knee pillow for side sleepers will align your joints and muscles perfectly so that they are at a resting position while you sleep, with no downward angle.
The best knee pillow for side sleepers is a full leg separator pillow. This leg separator pillow has been tested by physical therapists and is unanimously recommended as the best knee pillow for sleeping on your side. It offers complete back, hip, and leg support.
Pair this leg separator pillow with a side sleeper wedge to give your spine maximum support while you sleep. This side sleeper wedge fits in your waist, just above your hip bone. The combination of a leg separator pillow and side sleeper wedge is a side sleepers body alignment dream.
A knee pillow for side sleeping is an essential component to a side sleeper’s sleep positioning. Make sure your knee pillow is doing its job so you can wake up feeling refreshed and renewed!
-Hillary Blare, Doctor of Physical Therapy