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Travel Neck Pillows Bad for You?Chiropractor's Guide(2024)

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Are Neck Pillows Bad for You? A Travel Pillow Guide

Travel neck pillows have become increasingly popular as more and more people hit the open road. But are they any good? This blog post will look at the pros and cons of travel neck pillows and help you decide if one is right for you.

As a general rule, travel neck pillows don’t offer any support, alignment, or comfort and are not recommended for travel. Even though neck pillows have existed for almost 100 years, there is no evidence, either personal or scientific, to suggest that these travel neck pillows have any efficacy.

U-shaped travel pillows are often marketed as a way to get a good night’s sleep while on the go. However, these pillows are useless and can cause more harm than good. First of all, they are often too small to provide any real support for the head and neck. Second, they can put pressure on the nerves in the neck, causing pain and numbness. Finally, they are unnecessary – a regular pillow will do just fine, so if you’re looking for a way to get a good night’s sleep while traveling, ditch the U-shaped pillow and opt for a regular one instead.

u-shaped pillow

Travel Pillows Have These 4 Problems

Poor Alignment

Anyone who has ever taken a long car or plane ride knows the importance of a good travel pillow. However, not all travel pillows are created equal. Traditional U-shaped pillows offer little in the way of alignment and can lead to nerve impingement. Prolonged nerve impingement may lead to pain, numbness, and a restless journey!

The best travel pillows support the neck and head in a natural position, preventing the head from falling forward or to the side. They should be adjustable, ergonomic, and made from natural latex. The gentle support of a good travel pillow can make all the difference in preventing neck pain and headaches. In addition, a good pillow will help you get a better night’s sleep, even when you’re on the go. 

neck pillow

Too Soft

There are a lot of different pillows on the market these days, and it can be hard to know which one is right for you. If you’re looking for a pillow that will help keep your neck in a good position while you sleep, you might be interested in a U-shaped pillow. However, before you buy one of these pillows, it’s essential to know that they aren’t always as effective as they claim to be. The main problem with U-shaped pillows is that they’re not firm enough or high enough to support your neck correctly. Plus, they don’t always circle your neck the way they should. If you want a pillow to help keep your neck in a good position during sleep, you might be better off with a natural latex foam pillow. These pillows are firmer and higher, offering more support to your neck. U-shaped pillows are also often too soft, making your neck pain worse.

Bad Design

If you’ve ever tried to sleep on an airplane, you know how uncomfortable it can be. Between the hard seatback, the cramped legroom, and the constant noise, it’s no wonder so many people arrive at their destination feeling exhausted. One way to get some rest is to use a travel neck pillow, but unfortunately, many of these pillows have a bad ergonomic design. The problem is that they’re too high in the front, which forces your head forward and puts strain on your neck muscles. Additionally, they’re often too soft, so your head tends to flop around while trying to sleep. As a result, you may wake up feeling even more tired than when you started. 

travel pillow luggage

Toxic Materials

When you’re embarking on a long journey, the last thing you want to worry about is whether your travel neck pillow is safe. Unfortunately, many pillows on the market are made with toxic memory foam that can release harmful chemicals into the air. These chemicals, known as volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, can cause various health problems, including headaches, dizziness, and nausea. In addition, VOCs can also exacerbate existing respiratory conditions such as asthma. Fortunately, several travel pillows on the market are made with natural ingredients that are safe for you and the environment. These pillows are often filled with natural latex foam and generally don’t release harmful chemicals.

3 Types Of Travel Neck Pillows

Several variations of pillows can be classified as neck pillows. For instance, pillows like the famous U-shaped travel pillows can be considered neck support pillows. There are also half-moon pillows and basic contour or wavy pillows. These extra firm pillows provide more benefits for a good night’s sleep than standard alternatives. While you can find several manufacturers and providers of these neck pillows, let me explain the difference between them? 

 U-Shaped Pillows

You’ve probably used a U-shaped travel pillow if you’ve ever been on a long flight or train ride. These inadequate pillows are ‘designed’ to support your neck and head while you sleep, helping you to avoid stiffness and pain. Well, they don’t. Some manufacturers recommend that they can also be used while sleeping in bed. Crazy, right? U-shaped travel pillows are typically small, making them easy to carry with you when you’re on the go. However, you would probably get more benefits from using a rolled-up airplane blanket!

Half-Moon Pillows

Half-moon pillows are standard neck pillows that have an immediately recognizable design. They are touted as quite versatile and adjustable and will ease all your aches and pains. Sounds too good to be true? It is! 

Standard Contour Pillows

orthopedic pillow

Contour pillows are a type of neck pillow that is designed to improve sleep posture and comfort. They are usually made with a wave-like pattern, where there is an indentation in the middle of the pillow. These pillows are great for anyone who needs extra support under their neck. They are also perfect for side-sleepers who must align their head with their neck.

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Video Guide

Video Guide


So, are neck pillows inadequate for you? The answer is a little complicated. Travel neck pillows don’t offer any support, alignment, or comfort and are not recommended for travel. However, it may be worth using if you find one that works well for you and doesn’t cause pain or discomfort. Just make sure to take breaks from wearing it and give your neck a chance to rest.


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Product Disclaimer: The seat cushion is designed by a chiropractor, but results may vary and are not guaranteed. The product is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any medical condition.

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Dr Lawrence Woods DC

Dr Lawrence Woods DC


My goal is to create the highest quality ergonomic office chairs and accessories for unmatched comfort.

With 30 years of spinal healthcare experience in Ireland as a chiropractor, I learned the value of high-quality sitting for living a happy and healthy life.

I have a Chiropractic Degree from Life Chiropractic College West and I am NBCE Physiotherapy certified.


About Me

Dr Lawrence Woods

My name Dr Lawrence Woods DC and I have been designing mattresses, pillows, chairs and seat cushions for over 20 years. As a chiropractor, my goal has always focused on improving the health of my patients by optimizing how they sleep and sit. My designs have been nominated for numerous awards and I continue to be at the forefront of this industry, helping people get the best night’s sleep possible. I have a Chiropractic Degree from Life Chiropractic College West, I am NBCE Physiotherapy certified and an OSHAcadenmy certified ergonomist.


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