Knee/lower back pillows for sleeping?
June 20, 2014 7:59 PM   Subscribe

My back is arching while sleeping (well, arching all the time actually). I'm currently doing what I can stretch-wise to try and help the problem, but I often wake up in pain. The arch makes me sore - my lower back never touches the bed. I've been told pillows for my knees/lower back would help. What knee/lower back pillows have you tried that helped relieve the pressure on your lower back? I'll probably be purchasing from Amazon.
posted by CottonCandyCapers to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
If you lie on your back, your low back is not supposed to touch the ground. When your spine is in a neutral position, there should be a gentle arch in the lower lumbar spine away from the ground.

What problem are the pillows designed to solve? Would you like to sleep on your back and prevent your spine from excessively arching away from the bed during sleep?

I have an excessive back arch and the correction is abdominal exercise. You will need this in addition to stretching, pillow, and other ergonomic solutions.

A yoga bolster, such as the ones sold by Half Moon yoga, are quite useful for supporting the knees while lying flat on your back. I would not attempt pillows to support the low back while you sleep. Save the back pillows for driving.
posted by crazycanuck at 8:16 PM on June 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

I sleep with a pillow under my knees (if I am lying on my back) or between my knees (if I am lying on my side) to relieve pressure on my lower back. I use a medium-thickness standard head pillow, and I find that it works well for me.
posted by snorkmaiden at 8:23 PM on June 20, 2014 [5 favorites]

I have this problem when I camp out on packed dirt, and I often put a pannier underneath my knees. Another person I know sleeps on a giant firm wedge-shaped pillow that elevates her shoulders. A third person has given up on all of this and now sleeps on her belly with her face turned to one side so she can breathe.
posted by d. z. wang at 9:00 PM on June 20, 2014

How extreme is your arch? Is it possibly your bed is too firm? You should have a nice, even support along all your back in a way that allows your back to retain a gentle curve.

They make cushions just for this, but I prefer to use a regular pillow for versatility (it allows for side-lying with a pillow to cushion your knees).

Seconding strengthening your abdominal muscles.
posted by moira at 9:34 PM on June 20, 2014

I use this knee wedge pillow.
posted by 724A at 9:37 PM on June 20, 2014

I got a memory foam mattress and that helps a LOT. You can buy the LUCID memory foam mattresses from Amazon. A new mattress is more expensive than a wedge or pillow, of course, but for me it's the ONLY thing that finally worked for my morning back pain.
posted by Jacqueline at 9:39 PM on June 20, 2014

Adding on to Jacqueline's suggestion: if you can't do a mattress, a good quality 3-4" memory foam topper may do wonders. It did for me.
posted by moira at 10:05 PM on June 20, 2014 [2 favorites]

I just use a regular ole bed pillow under my knees when I sleep.
posted by radioamy at 10:12 PM on June 20, 2014

I also use a pillow under my knees (in my case, an old body pillow folded over), and a regular pillow at my feet to keep them from sliding down. That, and a solid routine of core strength exercises.
posted by Koko at 11:01 PM on June 20, 2014

Cleveland Clinic suggests a pillow under the knees while sleeping on your back helps maintain correct posture for a healthy back.

I started using a pillow under my knees after abdominal surgery. The ease on my lower back helped the pain in my abdomen. I never stopped using the pillow, which is a regular bed pillow. I wouldn't want to sleep with my knees way up in the air on one of those huge honking triangular knee pillows.

Just try a bed pillow first.
posted by ImproviseOrDie at 5:09 AM on June 21, 2014

I have used a knee pillow for years.

After lots of experimentation, I have found that a regular blanket stuffed into a pilow case works best for me. Normal pillows are too soft. The blanket has the necessary firmness.
posted by gnossos at 8:06 AM on June 21, 2014

I used a big yoga bolster, and that worked. Unfortunately I'm having trouble finding one here in China. So I might head to Ikea and get the biggest "body pillow" I can find.
posted by illuminatus at 1:37 AM on June 27, 2014

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