Best Massage Bolsters

Updated June 2021
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Pros
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

30 Models Considered
8 Hours Researched
3 Experts Interviewed
105 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best massage bolsters

Do you have trouble falling asleep, or are you looking for a little more comfort when you’re sitting? A massage bolster can provide comfort by elevating or supporting certain parts of your body. In turn, this can relieve tension and pressure by realigning your spine. As an affordable way to provide comfort to your neck, back, and knees, many people are thrilled with the relief a massage bolster delivers … and at such a low cost.

Best recognized as accessories for massage therapists, bolsters have grown in popularity for everyday home use. They’re made of firm, dense foam encased in soft, breathable material to cradle your body. You can place a bolster under your ankles to promote circulation or beneath your knees to take pressure off your hips. You can place one under your neck to achieve better neck and spine alignment while you rest or practice meditation or yoga. No matter how you use your massage bolster, one thing is certain: you’ll feel more relaxed and well-rested after each use.

Get ready to get comfortable with a new massage bolster. Take a look at our buying guide to compare the styles and choose the one that provides the support and comfort your body has been looking for.

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Massage bolsters are ideal for readers, as they provide comfort and support as you enjoy a book on the couch. Some furniture is too soft to be supportive; the added firmness of the bolster promotes better posture and spine alignment as you read.

Key considerations

Who uses massage bolsters?

  • Therapists: Massage therapists use bolsters to keep the spine properly aligned while they work on clients. Often, a bolster is placed beneath the knees or ankles during a session. Physical therapists also use bolsters with patients, especially those who are recovering from orthopedic surgery. In this application, a bolster can provide comfort and support during certain therapy exercises, or it can introduce a slight challenge in other exercises.

  • Elders: A massage bolster can provide much-needed support to an elder who wants to make a chair or couch more comfortable. Shorter lumbar bolsters fit in chairs, and longer ones are perfect when the legs are extended on a couch or chaise. A bolster can also make resting in bed much easier, especially when it’s used to elevate the knees or ankles in an arthritis sufferer.

  • Restless sleepers: Restless sleepers can often find a more comfortable sleeping position using a massage bolster. Sometimes, a bolster propped under legs or between the knees alleviates pain or tension enough for the person to unwind and fall asleep. Pregnant women who have difficulty sleeping with their baby bump also like using bolsters. Of course, there are pregnancy pillows as well, but a bolster sometimes proves more versatile.

Round vs. half-moon shapes

Massage bolsters come in round and half moon shapes. There are pros and cons to each. Round bolsters come in a wide variety of thicknesses and lengths. However, they tend to roll away with the slightest movement. Half moon bolsters are flat on one side, so they stay put on most surfaces, even with a decent amount of movement. However, a half moon bolster has a slight incline, so if you want more height, you should probably opt for a round bolster instead.

Size

Massage bolsters come in a variety of sizes, so no matter your preference, there’s one to suit your body. Most round massage bolsters are between 12 and 26 inches long and 6 and 9 inches wide. They generally stand 6 to 9 inches tall, which some consumers find to be too tall. That said, tall bolsters are popular in therapeutic environments.

Half moon bolsters have comparable lengths to round models, though their widths range from 4 to 8 inches. They also have less of a height range to choose from, as they’re usually between 4 and 6 inches tall. Half moon bolsters are well-liked by those who want to lie upright on a sofa or bed, especially while reading or recovering from an illness.

Features

Construction and materials

Massage bolsters consist of two main parts: the stuffing and the cover. The stuffing is usually foam, although there are some models that use densely packed cotton. Foam ranges in quality between bolsters, with memory foam being the best.

Bolster covers can be made of cotton, terrycloth, plush, or microfiber. For the most part, they are breathable to combat sweating, which is important for both comfort and hygienic reasons.

Inexpensive and poorly constructed bolsters don’t have a lining; the foam interior is covered with just a sheath. Vinyl bolster covers are the exception, given that they’re incredibly durable and don’t need a lining.

Premium massage bolsters, particularly those made with soft, breathable covers, often have a water-resistant lining to protect the foam.

Removable slipcover

Some massage bolsters have a removable slipcover for easy care. The slipcover is usually machine washable, though certain materials may require hand washing. The slipcover either slips onto the bolster like a sock or zippers or snaps shut for a near-seamless opening. The seams are usually tucked away in an existing seam or nestled on the underside of a bolster to avoid chafing the skin.

Massage bolster prices

Massage bolsters cost between $15 and $35. Price largely depends on the quality of the foam and cover.

  • For a budget-friendly massage bolster, expect to spend between $15 and $20. These are typically shorter than other bolsters, and some consumers feel their size only allows for effective use on the lumbar area and neck. The foam is of decent quality, though some models in this price range become compact or collapse more quickly than others.

  • Mid-range massage bolsters, priced between $20 and $25, are where you get the most bang for your buck. These bolsters feature better memory foam and come in a variety of lengths. They often have removable slipcovers that are machine washable.

  • If you’d like to spend more to get the most comfort and longest life out of a massage bolster, expect to spend closer to $35. These bolsters are similar to the ones at massage clinics. The interior foam lasts a long time, and the exterior is made of a tougher material like vinyl, which can be easily wiped down between uses.
"Want to bring your massage bolster on an airline trip? You might be able to bring a shorter one on the plane, but a longer, larger bolster will need to be packed with checked luggage."
STAFF
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Tips

  • Add a massage bolster to your baby registry. Bolsters can help pregnant women rest more comfortably. What’s more, unlike traditional pregnancy pillows, bolsters can be used in a wealth of places, including beds, chairs, sofas, and the floor.

  • Wrap it in a towel. If you plan to use your massage bolster on a beach lounger, wrap it in a towel to prevent it from getting sandy, wet, or stained with sunscreen.

  • Buy one for floor-based therapy. If you have to do physical therapy exercises on the floor, use a massage bolster under your neck, lumbar, or legs to promote better posture as you work on strength and range of motion.

  • Keep away from pets. Massage bolsters can be confused as toys, so keep them away from pets. Their teeth could puncture the foam and cause permanent damage to the bolster.
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Consider placing a massage bolster in your guest bedroom. Your visitors might have trouble adjusting to an unfamiliar bed; the bolster can help them find a comfortable sleeping position.

FAQ

Q. How should I clean my massage bolster?

A. If your bolster has a machine washable slipcover, you can throw it in the washing machine and let it air dry on a rack. If you have a plush slipcover, avoid using fabric softener, as it could make the material matted. If you have a vinyl slipcover, simply wipe it down with a gentle surface cleaner followed by a damp cloth to remove excess product.

Q. How often should I replace a massage bolster?

A. The more often you use it, the sooner you’ll need to replace it. Foam becomes compact after significant use, though you may not notice it right away. Look for other signs to see whether it’s worn out, such as uneven foam distribution or excessive slack in the slipcover.

Q. My massage bolster didn’t come with a removable cover. How can I get one?

A. You could contact the manufacturer to see if they have one compatible with your bolster, though it would be unusual to find one. Some consumers opt to make their own cover from a self-made pattern using a soft, washable material like jersey cotton or linen. Terrycloth is another option; you could upcycle an old towel and machine sew it into a sock-like slipcover within minutes.

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