Contour Pillows

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All you Need to Know About Contour Pillows

What is a Contour Pillow?

Contour pillows have a flat base and a wave shaped top that curves downward from the high side to the middle and then up again, but to 2cm less than the high side. Variously described as neck support pillows, ergonomic pillows, chiropractic pillows, orthopaedic pillows, or therapeutic pillows, they are designed to provide maximum support to the head and neck and to keep the neck and spine in alignment for perfect healthy posture while sleeping. At TLC we offer the most comprehensive range of latex contour style pillows available in Australia with a size option to suit everybody, all marketed as TLC Therapeutic pillows.

Some people find the shape takes a little getting used, but especially if you suffer neck or back pain a contour pillow it is worth persevering with and they are recommended by chiropractors and health professionals for patients with pain.


What is good about Contour Pillows?

The great benefit you get from a contour pillow is the added support it provides to your shoulder, neck, and head – and the fact that it helps keep the neck and spine in alignment while sleeping. You are asleep for almost one third of your life and good posture during this time is extremely healthful.

Therapeutic contour pillows are also flexible in that you can sleep with either side closer to your shoulder, whichever side suits you best and feels most comfortable. Some people even switch sides during the night to relieve pain further. And stomach sleepers can flip them over so the flat side is on top and the hands slip into the resultant tunnel underneath.

What Are Contour Pillows Made From?

There are 3 types of contour pillows on the market. Originally, they were cut into shape out of blocks polyurethane foam – and these are still available and cheap to buy. However, PU foam tends to be too firm and quickly dries out and becomes brittle, so they are not long lasting and have become increasingly unpopular among consumers. PU foam is made from oil derivatives and chemicals.

Memory foam contour pillows are also usually cut to shape from a big block of foam and are far superior. Brands such as Tempur make a good quality memory foam contour pillow that sinks in to the weight of your head, so it finds its own height for excellent comfort. Once the weight is removed, the pillow slowly returns to normal height. Like PU foam, memory foam is made from oil derivatives and is sometimes referred to as viscos foam. It has a lot more elasticity than PU foam and is much longer lasting but can have a slight chemical odour and is a little too firm for some people.

At TLC we discontinued memory foam many years ago in favour of our latex contour pillow range made from all natural Talalay process latex and marketed under our Therapeutic Pillow umbrella. Latex rubber inherently wants to push upwards and so can be softer and more comfortable, but still provide the required and desired support. At TLC, all our latex is 100% natural from rubber trees with no synthetic latex (also made from an oil derivative called butadiene) blended in. So, you get all the health benefits of natural latex as well as the increased comfort.

Our Therapeutic range of contour pillows are all produced in special moulds via the Talalay manufacturing process. This produces a superior pillow that will last at least 10 years without losing height or performance – and unlike the other options it has an open cell structure so sleeps cool.

Which Height Contour Pillow Should I Choose to Relieve Neck Pain?

Our TLC range of Therapeutic contour pillows has 4 size options to choose from and to a large extent it is a question of personal preference and past experience for people with neck pain. You will know what suits you best in terms of height and trying to keep you neck and spine in alignment. For most people our 12/ 10cm is the best option and The Therapeutic is our most popular contour pillow by a long way.  There is some flexibility with contour pillows in that you can sleep with either side closest to your shoulder – whichever you prefer.

Then we the have The Low Therapeutic that comes in 2 size options (10/8cm and 8/6cm) and these are both a little softer to suit those that need the pillow to feel noticeably lower. In between there is a very firm low Therapeutic at 9/7cm, but this is very much a specialty pillow only suitable for those that need extra firmness and low height. If you have a serious pain problem, you are best being guided by your health professional as to which pillow height will work best for you.

Do Contour Pillows feel Different to Normal Shape Pillows?

Because of the different shape there is a difference in feel, but most people adapt to it quickly and others simply prefer the head-cradling feel of a contour pillow. Many people try a contour pillow for the first time by recommendation from their chiropractor because of neck pain and for them the pillow can take a bit of getting used to because more height at the shoulder encouraging the neck and spine into alignment can actually cause more pain for the first few nights even though the pillow is actually doing good. In some cases, realignment and adjustment can take up to two weeks of sleeping on a new contour pillow, before it starts working its magic.

Any pillow that provides enough support to help keep the airways open while sleeping will help reduce snoring – and a good contour pillow with plenty of height at the shoulder is ideal. So much so that TLC has a contour pillow in the range called The Stop Snore which is a little softer than our standard The Therapeutic.

For most people no time at all – often one night is enough. However, if trying a contour to help neck pain, then it can take some time to adjust especially if you have been used to an ill-fitting pillow that has been encouraging your neck and spine out of alignment. It can take up to at least two weeks for the proper adjustment to be completed, but once comfortable there will be a noticeable difference in pain reduction and ability to sleep soundly.

How to Sleep on a Contour Pillow

Place the contour pillow on your bed with the flat side down and the highest, curved side facing towards the foot of the bed. If you find having the high side closest to your shoulder a little uncomfortable, then turn it 180 degrees so the lower curved side is next to your shoulder. Do allow yourself a week or 2 to adjust to this new sleep position as it will take time and don’t be afraid to reverse again as both sides of a contour pillow provide good support to the head and neck.