The Top 5 Best Yoga Mats for Bad Knees in 2020

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Practicing yoga can be a pain when you have bad knees, and that’s the last thing you want your practice to be!


Finding the right mat is crucial to ensuring you have a comfortable and relaxing practice, so let’s talk about the best yoga mats for bad knees and how to spot them!


Why do you need a yoga mat for bad knees?


If you suffer from knee discomfort or even pain when you practice yoga, then it’s a good idea to invest in a yoga mat that is suited to the level of support you need i.e. a thick yoga mat for bad knees.


Practicing on a mat that isn’t suited to your needs can aggravate your knee problems further and worsen existing injury, which I’m sure isn’t the reason you come onto your yoga mat!


Purchasing a yoga mat that matches the level of support you need is a good investment idea so you can truly relax and get the full benefits of your practice. Nobody wants their yoga session to be uncomfortable, let’s be honest!


What to look for in a yoga mat for bad knees


There are some key criteria to look out for when purchasing a yoga mat for bad knees. Essentially, we want to look out for a thick cushioned yoga mat, and here are some clues about how to find one that's suitable!


1. Premium thickness


Thickness is key when choosing your yoga mat; a certain level of thickness is essential to protecting your knees from the floor beneath it. This is especially true if you practice on hard floor. 


Your average yoga mat is about 3mm thick, but this isn’t always enough to protect your vulnerable joints from the hard floor below. I would advise definitely looking for a mat that is at least 5mm thick if you have sensitive knees.


2. Cushioned material


The thickness of your mat can sometimes be compromised depending on the material in question. This is because some materials are more cushioned than others, supporting your joints and letting them sink in rather than acting as a resistant surface.


It turns out you can have too much of a good thing however. Why? Because too much cushioning can make certain poses like standing balances and inversions very tricky!


If you prefer a mainly floor based practice then this may not be an issue for you. Otherwise, you may wish to purchase a separate yoga mat designed for this purpose.


Some of the best materials to cushion your joints include natural rubber and PVC (I’d always advise looking for eco-friendly yoga mats where possible!)


The added bonus of materials like natural rubber is that their density means that they are also less likely to interfere with balance than some other materials.

 

3. Smooth texture


Yoga mats that are imprinted with bumpy patterns and ridges (often to increase their level of stickiness) may not be the best option for sensitive knees. These bumps can irritate the joints, so it’s best to look for a mat that has a smooth texture and feels soft to the touch.

woman in side plank variation on knee

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The 5 Best Yoga Mats for Bad Knees


Based on the criteria mentioned above, here are some of the best thick yoga mats for bad knees!



1. Jade Yoga Fusion Mat

Jade Yoga is a yoga company dedicated towards being environmentally conscious. Their Fusion Mat is 8mm thick, making it super comfortable for sensitive knees. It comes in two different lengths and three colours. As with all their other mats, it is made from sustainable natural tree rubber and contains no PVC, EVA or synthetics. Plus, Jade plant a tree for every mat they sell!

Size: Regular: 24” x 68” Long: 24” x 74”

Thickness: 8mm

Weight: 8.5lbs

Pros

Smooth cushioned material

Very thick

Environmentally friendly

Cons

Not suitable for rubber/latex allergies

Rubber smell

Bulky and heavy to transport


2. Manduka Pro Yoga Mat

manduka pro yoga mat for bad knees

The Manduka Pro series claims to be the #1 recommended yoga mat by teachers worldwide! The Pro yoga mat is 6mm of cushioned thickness and ultra-dense so as not to sacrifice stability. It has a closed cell surface to stop moisture sinking in and provide grip when things get a little sweaty! This mat is made from PVC, comes in 8 different styles and two lengths.

Size: Standard: 26” x 71” Long: 26” x 85”

Thickness: 6mm

Weight: 7.5lbs

Pros

Cushioned mat 

Good thickness

Closed cell surface

Latex free

Cons

Made from PVC (less environmentally friendly)

Fairly heavy


3. Lululemon Reversible Yoga Mat

lululemon reversible yoga mat in pink

Lululemon’s Reversible Mat is made from eco-friendly natural rubber and comes in a 5mm thickness for extra cushioning for your joints. It features an absorbent polyurethane top layer for extra grip when sweating as well as an antimicrobial additive. This mat only comes in one length but there are 8 different styles to choose from!

Size: 26” x 71”

Thickness: 5mm

Weight: 5.24lbs

Pros

Smooth cushioned material

Good thickness

Antimicrobial

Lighter than some other mats

Cons

Not suitable for rubber/latex allergies

Rubber smell

Not suitable for taller individuals


4. Gaiam Premium Extra Thick Yoga Mat

Gaiam’s premium mat is an extra thick 6mm yoga mat that is perfect for sensitive knees. It has a textured sticky surface that offers extra grip for when things get sweaty. Despite its thickness, this PVC mat is surprisingly lightweight which makes it an ideal option for taking to and from your yoga classes. It also comes in a 42 different printed designs, meaning there is more than enough to choose from!

Size: 24” x 68”

Thickness: 6mm

Weight: 3.43lbs

Pros

Good cushioning

Decent thickness

Fairly lightweight

Latex free

Cons

Made from PVC (not as environmentally friendly)

Not suitable for taller individuals

Textured material may bother some


5. Sivan Health Extra Thick Yoga Mat

The Sivan Health extra thick yoga mat was designed with thickness and cushioning in mind to provide extra support for sensitive joints. This mat is a whopping 12mm thickness and is made from memory foam making it perfect for styles of yoga such as restorative or yin. It is a smooth material with a ribbed underside for extra grippiness on hard floors. 

Size: 24” x 71”

Thickness: 12mm

Weight: 1.75lbs

Pros

Very cushioned memory foam material

Extra thick for support

Super lightweight

Latex free

Cons

Not as well suited for standing practice and balances

Light material prone to curling

Not suitable for taller individuals


The Verdict: The Best Yoga Mat for Bad Knees


Based on the pros and cons discussed, the best yoga mat for bad knees would definitely be, in my opinion, the Jade Fusion. It has everything you could possibly want in a mat for sensitive knees - it’s super thick, well cushioned and environmentally friendly! 


Despite this, it’s not a mat that is suitable for those with latex or rubber allergies due to the natural rubber material. If this is you, then I’d say the next best high quality and thick yoga mat for bad knees would be the Manduka Pro. It’s latex free and has the added benefit of being antimicrobial!


Other Things to Consider


If you don’t have the funds to invest in a new yoga mat, or you want to take extra precautions, there are definitely other options you can take to protect your knees!


A Knee Cushion

Knee cushions are designed to be put under the knees in positions where you may place extra pressure on them - think poses like tabletop and child’s pose. They’re an affordable option and can be switched in and out of your practice when you do or don’t need them. This means you can still keep your favourite yoga mat if you wish!


A Blanket

Yoga blankets are another affordable option for knee support. You can place them under the joints in the same way you would a knee cushion, and you can roll or fold them up to your desired thickness making them very versatile! They're a perfect addition to certain styles of yoga such as yin and restorative.


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the top 5 best yoga mats for bad knees

About Esther

Esther is the founder of Through the Phases, and author of the Breakthrough Manifestation Workbook.  Her mission is to guide others to grow to their full potential and create their dream life using spiritual and personal growth practices. Read more about her story here!

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