While most people know them as leg pillows, knee pillows, etc not many know that they are essentially contour pillows, a types of orthopedic pillows. Contour pillows are designed with the aim to rectify position of specific body parts during sleep. Their designs follow certain guidelines that ensure correct placement as well as rightful support for targeted areas of the body.
What are the different types?
Also known as therapeutic pillows they are used primarily to provide support to certain special areas of the body in order to get relief from certain medical conditions like sleep apnea, snoring, insomnia, breathing and circulatory problems, acid reflux, GERD, low back pain, painful sciatica, neck pain, whiplash, cuff injury, etc.
They are contoured to provide the requisite ergonomic support where needed.
As is evident, many of these conditions for which the pillows are used, are orthopedic in origin or breathing related. Thus, there is need for specific types of pillows that can provide relief to the physical symptoms. Some of the common types of contour pillows are:
– Cervical pillows have a curved design that adapts to the contours of the head, shoulder and neck. Used both by back and side sleepers, these pillows are used for treating frozen shoulder, stiff neck and headaches. They also keep the airways open during sleep – a necessity in conditions like snoring and sleep apnea.
– Neck pillow: designed in the shape of a ‘U’, it works on the neck contour. These are used during office hours or during travel. They keep the neck in an upright position without creating any pain.
– Wedge pillow: Mainly used by patients of acid reflux and GERD, these triangular-shaped pillows provide a sloping surface in order to keep the body in a diagonal position. They can be used both in the upright or downright position.
– Lumbar contour pillows are shaped like half-moon. They target the lower back and relieve lumbar pain by maintaining a sitting down position. They are recommended to be used under the knees for raising the legs and as a support to the neck region for purposes of relaxation and massaging.
– Knee pillows are also known as contour leg pillows. They are shaped in the form of an hour-glass. They are placed between the legs to raise the lower body in order to keep a straight side-sleeping posture. Some leg pillows can be unfolded for using as leg spacers for promoting blood circulation.
Which type is most suitable?
Firmer than a standard pillow, the specific type of pillow that would suit you best depends on your most-preferred sleeping position as well as the target area of the body that needs support during sleep. The most common type supports the head and neck during sleep. These work best for back sleepers since they provide a comfortable environment for the head to rest. They also work by properly aligning the spine with the neck thereby reducing neck and upper back pain and discomfort.
The leg pillow could be the best choice for side sleepers since they provide support to the knees as well as the lower body by proper alignment of the back.
However to get the maximum benefit from these contour pillows, one must allow time for the body to get used to them.