As we prepare to kick off the new year and contemplate our resolutions, finding new ways to get in shape is usually right up there at the top of the list. 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 mat for knee pain.
Causes of Knee Pain
According to John 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.
Other causes of knee pain include tendonitis, or trauma to the tendons, torn cartilage, or sprained or strained ligaments.
What is the best yoga mat 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 mat thickness for people with knee pain is around 1/2 to 1 inch, depending on the level of knee discomfort.
You’ll also want to make sure your mat has a non-slip grip — we’re just guessing here, but should you fall on your own sweat during an intense workout, your knees probably won’t be too happy!
We’ve tracked down top yoga mats for relieving pain in the knees, plus several other affordable accessories, such as kneeling pads ($19.99, Amazon) and yoga jellies ($45, Amazon), that can make you feel better in a hurry.
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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Best Budget Yoga Mat for Bad Knees
Gaiam Essentials Thick Yoga Mat
Where to buy: $16.99, Amazon
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 it's less than $20 price tag, it comes in nine awesome colors. 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 really helps with extensive body stretches and yoga works. My knees thank me for it."
Thickest Yoga Mat for Bad Knees
Where to buy: $34.99, Amazon
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.
Best Yoga Mat for Sensitive Knees
Where to buy: From $35.32, Amazon
In addition to being especially great for joints, thanks to its 1-inch thick padding and its non-slip tread, we love the awesome color selection that this Incline mat affords.
“Wow, it really helps my knees," gushed one happy buyer. "Apart from being double or nearly triple the size (rolled up) of a regular mat, it works great. I get a lot of looks and good comments about it. Anything to help my knees and get me going to yoga is a good thing.”
Best Thick Yoga Mat for Bad Knees
BalanceFrom GoYoga Extra-Thick Mat
Where to buy: $15.99, Amazon
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 15,000 reviews on Amazon alone!
Wrote one happy shopper: "I found that the thin yoga mats I had were not working and any pose requiring me to be on my knees was extremely painful, even with the mats doubled up. I ordered this yoga mat thinking it might help. It is perfect. Thick enough to pad my knees on a hardwood floor, with the exact right 'give.'"
Best Yoga Mat for Beginners with Bad Knees
Where to buy: From $16.98, Amazon
This mat from AmazonBasics, which comes in seven colors, is 1/2-inch thick to provide gentle support for all your yoga moves. It comes with a carrying strap and features a textured surface to ensure you won't slip and slide your way out of your downward dog.
Sasha, a happy user, reports, “It has great cushion for landing, which is soft on the feet and knees. I also appreciate the extra padding when doing yoga poses like cat/cow, because otherwise my hardwood floors really hurt my knees. While it does squish slightly and leave hand and foot dents momentarily, it quickly springs back to its normal shape… It has good grip and doesn’t move around or slip even when barefoot.”
Top Rated Yoga Mat for Bad Knees
Sivan Health and Fitness
Where to buy: from $20.49, Amazon
People are loving Sivan Health and Fitness' ultra-thick yoga mat — it's got nearly 4,000 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.
Raved one buyer: "I ordered this yoga mat because I have had terrible back and knee pain, and have enrolled in a Pilates course to try and alleviate this pain. I used a rental mat for my first course and all I can say is OUCH! For anyone that is particularly sensitive around their knee joints or their tailbone, this is definitely the mat for you. It’s the perfect amount of thickness and comfort, and its thickness also lends itself well to being rolled up on one end to sit on (like a pillow) for forward folds if you have painfully tight hamstrings, like I do."
Best Non Toxic Yoga Mat for Bad Knees
Where to buy: $22.99, Amazon
With ribbing on both sides for maximum grip, Reehut's 1/2-inch 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 with a two-year warranty and lifetime customer support.
Raved one purchaser "Highly recommend for those who need extra thickness due to chronic pain or arthritis issues."
Best Large Thick Yoga Mat
Where to buy: $29.95 (Originally $34.99), Amazon
HemingWeigh's 1/2-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.
Best Very Thick Yoga Mat
Yoga Cloud Ultra-Thick Mat
Where to buy: $42.99, Amazon
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 makes sure the mat doesn’t slip and slide, and it’s available in black, blue, pink, and red.
Best Yoga Knee Pads for Bad Knees
Kinesis Yoga Knee Pad Cushion
Where to buy: $19.99, Amazon
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.
Best Protection for Bad Knees
Thick Kneeling Cushion Pad
Where to buy: $32.99, Amazon
For anyone who has suffered a knee injury, or perhaps had a 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. "Good quality memory foam, really helps take the pressure off," wrote one shopper. "Lightweight and portable with the built in straps."
Best Accessory for Bad Knees
Where to buy: $45.00, Amazon
Yoga Jellies 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 a cushioned support to relieve pain. They come in a set of two, and are incredibly compact, taking very little space in your yoga bag. What's not to love?