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We updated this article in August 2023 to add more information about each featured product, based on extensive research done by our team.
A leg elevation pillow can do wonders for a variety of ailments. While kicking up your feet at the end of the day feels great, these specialized pillows are incredibly useful for an array of health concerns. Using a leg elevation pillow can promote recovery, ease lower back pain or knee pain, and make sleeping more comfortable.
How? Raising your legs above the rest of your body improves circulation, says Raj Dasgupta, M.D., board-certified sleep medicine physician and assistant program director at the University of Southern California. Your heart fights against gravity to pull oxygen-depleted blood from the veins in your legs, and raising them allows this process to happen much more efficiently. “It’s a big trip to go all the way up there,” he explains. “Just by simply raising your legs, you’re helping deliver necessary oxygen to every cell and every tissue in the body.”
Meet the experts: Raj Dasgupta, M.D., board-certified sleep medicine physician and assistant program director at the University of Southern California; Rohit Budhiraja, M.D., pulmonary and sleep specialist Brigham and Women’s Hospital; Melissa Prestipino, P.T., D.P.T., licensed physical therapist and owner of Maize & Blue Rehab in Sparta, NJ.
That’s why a leg elevation pillow can be helpful in easing inflammation, lower extremity swelling, leg ulcers, and varicose veins, as well as decrease the likelihood of blood clots, says Melissa Prestipino, P.T., D.P.T., licensed physical therapist and owner of Maize & Blue Rehab in Sparta, NJ. “The pillows can also help decrease leg and back pain, by flattening the lumbar spine. Elevation of the legs on the pillow helps to decrease the swelling into the legs and can help decrease pain,” Prestinpino explains.
Our top picks
Keeping these benefits in mind, here are the best leg elevation pillows you can find online.
Leg Elevation Memory Foam Pillow
This pillow “offers dense luxury foam that gives bounce-back buoyancy and prevents it from losing its shape,” explains Prestipino. “It also has an anti-skid base to help prevent slippage.” It offers exceptional comfort and pain relief thanks to the memory foam material, and has over 2,000 five-star reviewers on Amazon attesting to its reliability.
Leg Elevation Pillow
This leg elevation pillow boasts a unique shape that won’t compress your calves, meaning it’s ideal if you’re looking primarily for comfort, although it’s one of the narrower options on this list. Bonus: It comes with a washable cover complete with handles. One Amazon reviewer recommends this option to anyone not impressed with the standard wedge shape.
Leg Elevation Pillow
This elevation pillow is one of the highest-rated on Amazon (and anywhere online) with over 17,000 ratings. Shoppers like it for its washable cover, dense memory foam, breathable material, and posture-boosting shape. “The width is great, along with the height,” one reviewer says. “It’s firm enough to provide adequate support but soft enough that it’s not like resting your legs on a board all night.”
Leg Elevation Pillow
One of the most affordable leg elevation pillows available on Amazon, this wedge from Restorology still outperforms the competition for shoppers, boasting over 3,000 5-star reviews. “I like how the slip cover has an anti-skid surface,” one says. “The height was just right.”
Leg Support Pillow
If you know you’ll only need to prop up one leg, this narrower version of our #3 pick is perfect. With the same washable cover, convenient handles, and anti-slip guards, it’s the key to a better night’s sleep post-surgery. This pillow “is unique because it offers the option to have just one leg elevated such as if you had a single knee replacement,” says Prestipino. “It’s contoured channel, helps the leg rest comfortably and prevents it slipping out. It also comes with a carry strap which makes it easy to transfer.”
One Amazon shopper says this leg elevation pillow is “the only one you should even look at.” Why? Its high ridges on each side, which keep your legs from slipping off (and causing a ton of pain if you’re recovering from a surgery). Plus, it’s long enough for anyone, includes a soft, washable cover, and has handles for easy adjustments.
Leg Elevation Pillow
Designed with cooling gel foam, this non-slip leg elevation pillow won’t cause you to heat up on sweltering nights. “If I wasn’t so in love with my fiancé, I would marry this wedge pillow,” one reviewer says. “At eight months pregnant, sleep is elusive and this wedge helps my restless legs chill out.”
Bed Wedge Elevated Leg Pillow
Not only does this product have over 2,000 five-star reviews on Amazon (with an overall 4.4 star rating), but it comes highly recommended by Prestipino. “I love this wedge pillow and use it in my own treatment clinic for patients to try,” Prestipino explains. “The pillow comes with a zippered cotton cover that is breathable and can be machine washed to maintain hygiene. It offers a 20 in. base which is plenty of room to keep the legs in position comfortably.”
How to choose the best leg elevation pillow for you
✔️ Explore different shapes and sizes. The right leg elevation pillow depends upon the shape of your legs, your height, and your available space. Most options look like wide wedges, but some are narrower or more ergonomic. The most important feature to look for is their height, explains Rohit Budhiraja, M.D., pulmonary and sleep specialist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. The practice might also worsen sciatica pain, because you’ll generally want your legs to rest above the height of your heart.
✔️ Pick the right density. You need to find a leg elevation pillow with the right ratio of comfort to density. “Too soft a pillow may not provide enough support,” Dr. Budhiraja says, but “too hard a pillow may be uncomfortable.” Try a few out and prioritize memory foam, which is generally denser and more supportive than regular foam.
✔️ Stick to your budget. “You’ve got to go with what’s affordable,” Dr. Dasgupta says. Bells and whistles can be great, especially when you’re looking for a long-lasting pillow, but any option within your budget should get the job done.
Who should use a leg elevation pillow?
Almost anyone can benefit from a leg elevation pillow, Dr. Dasgupta notes, including people with cellulitis, a history of blood clotting, and swelling due to multiple conditions, like pregnancy, infections, or injuries. You should always talk to your doctor and treat the underlying cause of these conditions, he says, but leg elevation can help ease symptoms and even prevent the need for diuretics (or “water pills”).
Dr. Dasgupta also uses leg elevation in the ICU for people who are severely ill, since the practice can help raise critically low blood pressure. The same concept goes for people who have fainted since elevation increases the amount of oxygen flowing to the brain.
However, you should exercise caution in certain cases. “People with significant heart failure or poorly controlled hypertension should consult with their physicians regarding any potential impact of leg elevation,” explains Dr. Budhiraja. The practice might also worsen sciatica pain.
And people who deal with frequent urination with leg swelling should also be careful, as the redistribution of fluids in your body could cause you to pee even more throughout the night. Start elevating your legs “at least an hour before sleep time,” Dr. Budhiraja says, since that first hour is when most of the fluid will shift. If you have an underlying condition and aren’t sure if a leg elevation pillow will benefit you, talk to your doctor first.
How to use a leg elevation pillow
It depends on why you’re reaching for a leg elevation pillow in the first place. But it’s super easy to use a leg elevation pillow. Simply prop legs on top of the pillow and sit for 15-20 minutes, according to Prestipino.
How long should you use a leg elevation pillow?
Prestipino says that leg elevation pillows can be used “every night when you sleep” for maximum relief as well as used during the day.
During the day, Prestipino recommends using your leg elevation pillow three to four times per day in 15-20 minute increments.
Are leg elevation pillows safe?
Prestipino urges those with blood pressure issues or cardiac issues to consult their physician for advice using a leg elevation pillows to avoid blood flow and pressure complications.
How we chose the best leg elevation pillows
We spoke with Raj Dasgupta, M.D., board-certified sleep medicine physician and assistant program director at the University of Southern California; Rohit Budhiraja, M.D., pulmonary and sleep specialist Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Melissa Prestipino, P.T., D.P.T., licensed physical therapist and owner of Maize & Blue Rehab in Sparta, NJ. We also conducted our own research, and sifted through hundreds of online reviews to find the best leg elevation pillows available.
Why trust us
For more than 70 years, Prevention has been a leading provider of trustworthy health information, empowering readers with practical strategies to improve their physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Our editors interview medical experts to help guide our health-focused product selections. Additionally, Prevention also examines hundreds of reviews—and often conducts personal testing done by our staff—to help you make informed decisions.
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