Fitness

11 Best Yoga Mats for Bad Knees to Protect Your Joints

Do your cat-cows in comfort!

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As we get older, it’s important to keep ourselves active, even if that means embracing lower-impact exercises, rather than the heavy-duty training we might have done in our younger years. Yoga is an exercise that’s known to have massive health benefits, but if you have bad knees, some of the poses may seem nearly impossible. Luckily, there are many ways to lessen the stress you put on your knees during yoga, beginning with the best yoga mats for bad knees. 

What are the best yoga mats for bad knees?

Can you do yoga with bad knees?

As long as you take precautions — like investing in one of the best yoga mats for bad knees — the answer is yes, you certainly can! According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, the most common causes of knee pain are related to injury, stress on the knee, or good old-fashioned aging. As we get older, continual wear on our joints causes issues such as osteoarthritis (a degenerative process during which the joint loses cartilage) as well as rheumatoid arthritis, which causes cartilage-destroying inflammation. While you can purchase one of the best arthritis creams to help soothe aches and pains, gentle movement — like yoga! — can help, too. Other causes of knee pain include tendonitis, or trauma to the tendons, torn cartilage, or sprained or strained ligaments.

While these conditions can cause discomfort, it’s still possible to reap the benefits of yoga, as this practice can strengthen your legs and increase mobility — which can actually help your knees! Yoga really is for everyone, though you’ll want to stick to low-impact poses and movements so as not to put excess pressure on your joints, which can cause pain. It’s also wise to practice with a certified instructor, who can make sure your poses are being executed correctly and offer adjustments when necessary. Many poses can be done with modifications, so only do what feels comfortable for your body!

How thick should a yoga mat be for bad knees?

Thickness is one of the main factors when choosing a yoga mat for knee pain, as well as density. The best yoga mats for bad knees have a thickness of around 1/2 to one inch, depending on the level of knee discomfort. We’re fans of the one-inch thick Yoga Cloud Exercise Mat ($39.99, Amazon), though we also found this ProSource Fit Tri-Fold Thick Exercise Mat (starting at $32.60, Amazon), which is a whopping 1.5-inches thick!

You’ll also want to make sure your mat has a non-slip grip, like the JELS Extra Thick Yoga Mat (starting at $42.49, Amazon). We’re just guessing here, but should you fall due to a slippery surface — or your own sweat! — during an intense workout, your knees probably won’t be too happy! 

What is the best yoga mat for seniors?

Many of us experience more joint pain and discomfort as we age, so the best yoga mats for seniors will provide a soft yet stable surface to cushion our pressure points without sliding all about. We’ve tracked down the best yoga mats for bad knees, plus several other affordable accessories, such as kneeling pads ($19.99, Amazon) and yoga gels ($31.75, Amazon), that can make all the difference in how you feel while moving and stretching. 

With the help of this specific equipment, your knees should feel better in no time. Eventually, you may even be able to move on to a thinner yoga mat ideal for tougher balancing poses! Keep scrolling for Woman’s World’s top picks for the best yoga mats and accessories for bad knees.

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11 Best Yoga Mats for Bad Knees

Gaiam Essentials Thick Yoga Mat

Best Budget Yoga Mat for Bad Knees 
best yoga mats for bad knees
Amazon

Buy from Amazon, starting at $16.98

Why we like it:

  • Available in 9 colors
  • Non-toxic
  • Includes a carrying strap

The yoga accessory experts over at Gaiam designed this yoga mat to be nearly 1/2-inch thick, but still roll up effortlessly for transportation. Not only will it fit nearly any budget with its less than $20 price tag, it also comes in nine great colors to coordinate with the rest of your workout accessories. Best of all, it’s non-toxic, and includes a mat-carrying strap.

One buyer with arthritis praised this “great” mat for its cushioning, while another wrote, “There is a lot of support given by this mat” and “my knees thank me for it.”

JELS Extra Thick Yoga Mat

Best non-slip yoga mat for bad knees
best yoga mats for bad knees
Amazon

Buy from Amazon, starting at $42.49

Why we like it:

  • Available in 5 colors
  • Double non-slip surfaces
  • Anti-tear and waterproof

If you’ve been avoiding yoga due to fears of slipping and sliding on hard surfaces, we don’t blame you! But fear not — this extra-thick yoga mat by JELS is equipped with a unique suction cup grip design, so you can rest assured your exercise surface will stay put, no matter how active your flow gets. We also love its sturdy and durable anti-tear design, which will make this mat last for years, as well as its cushy thickness to offer some relief to your knees and joints.

One fan of this mat raved that it’s “comfy, durable, and most of all — it’s not slippery.” She went on to say that, “No matter how much I’m moving or sweating, I do not slip,” and that “It’s saving my joints, too, because it saves me from the impact of hard surfaces.”

ProSource Fit Tri-Fold Thick Exercise Mat

Thickest Yoga Mat for Bad Knees 
best yoga mats for bad knees
Amazon

Buy from Amazon, starting at $32.60

Why we like it:

  • Available in 5 colors
  • Conveniently folds up
  • 1.5 inches thick

If your knees are beyond the point of a few aches and pains and the thought of just kneeling down makes you wince, try this tri-fold exercise mat from ProSource. With its durable foam interior, it’s by far the thickest workout mat on our list, boasting a cushy 1.5 inches. It doesn’t roll up like a conventional yoga mat, folding up into a suitcase-like square instead. There are also convenient carry handles for easy transport. 

BalanceFrom GoCloud All-Purpose Yoga Mat

Best yoga mat for sensitive knees
best yoga mats for bad knees
Amazon

Buy from Amazon, starting at $24.60

Why we like it:

  • Available in 7 colors
  • Double-sided non-slip surface
  • 1-inch thick

In addition to being especially great for joints, thanks to its one-inch thick, high-density foam padding and its double-sided non-slip tread, we love the awesome color selection that this BalanceFrom GoCloud mat affords. It’s also moisture-resistant (so long, sweaty mats!) and comes with a convenient carrying strap, as well as a two-year warranty.

Wow, it really helps my knees,” gushed one happy buyer, who also said, “Apart from being double or nearly triple the size (rolled up) of a regular mat, it works great… Anything to help my knees and get me going to yoga is a good thing.” 

BalanceFrom GoYoga All-Purpose Yoga Mat

Best thick yoga mat for bad knees
best yoga mats for bad knees
Amazon

Buy from Amazon, starting at $19.49

Why we like it:

  • Available in 7 colors
  • Moisture-resistant
  • 2-year warranty

Another contender for the best cheap yoga mat would be BalanceFrom’s GoYoga mat. This high-density, anti-tear yoga mat is roughly 1/2-inch thick, so you’ll be able to get into your favorite yoga poses without having to worry about your painful joints. It also has double-sided non-slip surfaces, which are perfect for sweatier hot yoga or Bikram. But don’t take it from us: This No. 1 bestseller has more than 50,000 five-star ratings on Amazon alone!

One happy shopper said that thinner yoga mats “were not working, and any pose requiring me to be on my knees was extremely painful, even with the mats doubled up.” This mat, however, was “perfect,” and “thick enough to pad my knees on a hardwood floor, with the exact right ‘give.” 

Retrospec Solana 1-inch Yoga Mat

Best non-toxic yoga mat for bad knees
best yoga mats for bad knees
Amazon

Buy from Amazon, starting at $29.15

Why we like it:

  • Available in assorted colors and patterns
  • Free of harsh chemicals
  • 1-inch thick

With a non-slip surface for reinforced stability, Retrospec’s one-inch thick yoga mat is a great choice for those with sensitive joints. Made from non-toxic, soft-but-thick foam, it’ll make you forget that you’re practicing on a hard floor. It’s incredibly durable and easy to clean, and best of all, it comes in pretty much any color you can imagine.

One happy Amazon reviewer said, “With this thick, dense mat, you can ignore your pressure points and concentrate on your exercise.”

Amazon Basics 1/2-Inch Extra Thick Exercise Yoga Mat

best yoga mat for beginners with bad knees
best yoga mats for bad knees
Amazon

Buy from Amazon, starting at $16

Why we like it:

  • Available in 7 colors
  • Textured foam offers extra traction and stability
  • Shock-absorbing

This AmazonBasics mat, which comes in seven colors, is 1/2-inch thick to provide gentle support for all your yoga moves. It’s also shock-absorbing to take away some of the pressure on your joints, and comes with a convenient carrying strap for portability. Another helpful feature is the textured foam surface, which ensures you won’t slip and slide your way out of your downward dog. 

Sasha, a happy user, appreciates its “great cushion for landing, which is soft on the feet and knees” as well as “the extra padding when doing yoga poses like cat/cow, because otherwise my hardwood floors really hurt my knees.” She also says it has “good grip and doesn’t move around or slip, even when barefoot.”

Sivan Health and Fitness Extra Thick Yoga Mat

Top rated yoga mat for bad knees
best yoga mats for bad knees
Amazon

Buy from Amazon, starting at $19.99

Why we like it:

  • Available in 4 colors
  • Ribbed on one side, smooth on the other
  • Made of high-density foam

People are loving Sivan Health and Fitness’ ultra-thick yoga mat — it’s got over 6,000 five-star reviews!  So what makes it so special? For starters, it’s made with 1/2-inch memory foam that’s specially designed to protect the knees and joints. One side has a non-slip ribbed surface to grip the floor and stay in place, and the other is a smooth, easy-to-clean, slip-free surface for you to safely exercise on. It also has a carrying strap. 

One buyer with “terrible back and knee pain” raved that this mat has “the perfect amount of thickness and comfort” and that it’s also great for “being rolled up on one end to sit on (like a pillow) for forward folds if you have painfully tight hamstrings, like I do.”

HemingWeigh 1-inch Thick Yoga Mat

Best large thick yoga mat for bad knees
best yoga mats for bad knees
Amazon

Buy from Amazon, $32.99 (originally $34.99)

Why we like it:

  • Made of anti-tear premium foam
  • Lightweight
  • Non-toxic

HemingWeigh’s 1-inch thick foam exercise mat is Amazon’s Choice for “best extra thick yoga mat,” and we’re not surprised in the least. It’s a deluxe, high-quality, durable pick that’s built to last. Despite its density, it’s still lightweight enough to carry around with ease (a self-integrated strapping system is included), and its non-slip properties will keep you safe and secure as you work out.

One satisfied customer said this mat is “TRULY extra thick,” and that “there was so much cushion, and it was such a relief not feeling the wood ground as I stretched.” She also called it “extremely high quality for the price” and said she “could seriously gush about this exercise mat all day.” In addition, she appreciates that it’s “extremely compact and lightweight despite being so much thicker.”

Yoga Cloud Extra Thick 1″ Exercise Mat

Best very thick yoga mat
best yoga mats for bad knees
Amazon

Buy from Amazon, $39.99

Why we like it:

  • Available in 4 colors
  • Extra-large length
  • Slip-proof

You’d be forgiven for falling asleep in your Shavasana pose on this super comfortable yoga mat. The aptly named “yoga cloud” is made from high-density, 1-inch cushioned foam, and is Amazon’s choice product for “very thick yoga mat.” Its gripping ridges make sure the mat doesn’t slip and slide, and it’s available in black, blue, pink, and red.

One satisfied customer, who called this mat “AMAZING,” said she used to experience “back pain and knee pain when doing poses that involved being on the floor.” However, since she started using this mat, “This is no longer a problem,” and she loves how “squishy and wonderful it is.”

Crown Sporting Goods Extra Thick Yoga Mat

Best shock-absorbing yoga mat for bad knees
best yoga mats for bad knees
Walmart

Buy from Walmart, starting at $19.98

Why we like it:

  • Available in 4 colors
  • Absorbs impact to keep alignment in check
  • Non-slip and moisture-resistant

The right yoga mat can help alleviate pressure from joints, like your knees and elbows, which is why we like this impact-absorbing mat by Crown Sporting Goods. Its 3/4-inch thickness provides a cushiony yet stable surface for practicing yoga, pilates, stretching, or any other floor-based activity, and the ridged, moisture-resistant surface offers a good grip for sweaty hands. This mat also features a non-slip bottom to keep you from sliding all around, and the four color options include red, black, pink, and blue.

One happy shopper said this mat was “sooo comfortable,” she even used it on concrete and “was able to kneel on the mat, lay on my back and stomach” without feeling a thing!

Grazing Sun Yoga Gel Knee Pads

Best yoga accessory for bad knees
best yoga mats for bad knees
Amazon

Buy from Amazon, $31.75

Why we like it:

  • Made of eco-friendly silicon
  • Ergonomic design
  • Odorless

Yoga gel pads are popular in the yoga world for those with weak wrists that continually give way, but they’re incredibly useful for sore knees, too. They ease the tension and pressure away from the joint and provide cushioned support to relieve pain. These come in a set of two, and are incredibly compact, taking up very little space in your yoga bag. What’s not to love? 

Memory Foam Extra Thick Kneeling Cushion Pad

Best protection for bad knees
best yoga mats for bad knees
Amazon

Buy from Amazon, $34.99 (originally $39.99)

Why we like it:

  • 3-inches thick
  • Water-resistant
  • Can also be used for gardening and cleaning tasks

For anyone who has suffered a knee injury, or perhaps had an operation, a thick yoga mat alone just may not suffice. This 3-inch thick knee pad with memory foam can provide the protection you need, keeping your joints nice and cushioned when you’re in a kneeling position.

One shopper wrote that it’s made of “good quality memory foam” that “really helps take the pressure off,” and likes that it’s “lightweight and portable with the built in straps.” 

Kinesis Yoga Knee Pad Cushion

Best yoga knee pads for bad knees
best yoga mats for bad knees
Amazon

Buy from Amazon, $19.99

Why we like it:

  • Made of eco-friendly material
  • 1-inch thick
  • Includes a mesh carrying bag

If you feel that thick yoga mats inhibit your balancing poses in yoga, but still wish that you had some sort of protection for your knees, look no further: Kinesis Yoga’s 1-inch knee pad cushion is just what you’re after. This eco-friendly pad comes in a breathable mesh bag that you can use for storage. Keep it to the side of your mat when it’s not in use, just as you would a yoga block, and slide it under your knees or other joints whenever necessary.

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