Are Travel Pillows Bad For Your Neck – Know the Truth

Traveling by car, train, or plane and trying to sleep upright can put your back and neck in an uncomfortable position. This can cause pain in your back, shoulders, and neck. But if you bring a backpack neck pillow, it should support your neck, right? Probably not.

Even though neck pillows have been around for many years—almost 100 years, but there is no scientific evidence that travel neck pillows have any effectiveness. It provides temporary neck relief but not alignment or comfort, and it is not recommended for travel. But people ask, are neck pillows inadequate for you? The answer is a little complicated.

Anyway, in today’s post, we will explain in detail why travel pillows are bad for your neck. Also, we will tell you what causes your neck pain. Let’s get started.

First of all, you will know why neck pain happens while you are traveling.

Why Neck Pain Happens While Traveling – (Important Things)

Why Neck Pain Happens While Traveling

Your neck muscles loosen up or relax when you sleep sitting up, making your head fall to one side. Moving around while traveling can make this strain worse. When you sleep while traveling, six muscles can get strained or hurt if your head is not adequately supported. Injury can impair the following muscles and functions:

  • The “levator scapulae muscle” lifts the shoulder blade, turns the head, and bends the neck to the side.
  • The “sternocleidomastoid (SCM) muscle” supports the carotid artery and turns the head to the side. It also tilts the chin up.
  • The “trapezius muscle” lifts the shoulder blade, turns the head, holds it up, or moves the neck backward.
  • The “erector spinae muscles” support your posture and turn your neck forward and backward.
  • The “deep cervical flexors” stabilize the cervical spine and allow forward neck flexion.
  • These muscles, “called deep cervical flexors,” stabilize the neck and allow the head to bend forward.

Related post: The Right Memory Foam Pillow For Your Sleep Position

Then, you will know why travel pillows are bad for your neck.

So, Is it safe to sleep with a travel pillow?

In general, it is safe to sleep with a travel pillow. Travel pillows give you support and comfort while you sleep, especially if you’re sitting down on the way, like in a car or an airplane. They keep your neck in the right place and lower your risk of neck pain. But ensuring the pillow doesn’t make breathing hard or hurt you is vital. Put it in the right place, keep a good balance, and think about your comfort and any possible limits. Always follow the directions given by the maker to keep yourself safe.

Nex, you will know the types of neck pillows.

3 Types Of Travel Neck Pillows

For neck support, there are three types of pillows;

U-Shaped Pillows

The U-shaped pillow is one of the most popular and well-known types of travel neck pillows. They are meant to fit around the back of your neck and support both sides of your head. The “U” shape supports your neck and keeps your head from moving forward or to the side.

Half-Moon Pillows

Pillows that look like half moons, also called crescent pillows. Half-moons have a unique form that looks like a half-moon. They are made to fit around the shoulders and neck, supporting the sides and back of the neck. Half-moon pillows are helpful in many situations. They can be used while traveling, sitting, or lying down in different ways, like in an office chair or on the couch. They are often filled with memory foam or other materials that support the body for extra relaxation.

Standard Contour Pillows

Standard contour travel pillows provide ergonomic neck support. These pillows often have a specific contour that follows the neck curve while supporting the head. They are usually made of memory foam. This, in turn, molds to the shape of your body, providing a balance of comfort and support. These pillows are perfect for people who prefer a more structured and customized fit for their neck and head.

Read more: Does Memory Foam Mattress Cause Back Pain

Next, you will know: Which type is suitable for your travel?

Which type of neck pillow is suitable for Your travel?

Most of the time, what kind of neck pillow is best for travel depends on the person. But U-shaped pillows are popular because of their versatility and ease of use. Because this type of neck pillow offers support and is compact for easy packing. However, you should consider factors such as your preferred comfort and the type of travel you are doing.

How To Use A Travel Pillow Properly On Your Trip

How To Use A Travel Pillow Properly On Your Trip

  • Position it around your neck (for U-shaped) or under your neck (for other shapes).
  • Adjust for a snug fit but not too tight.
  • Maintain good posture while sitting.
  • Lean back and relax.
  • Use additional accessories like earplugs and an eye mask for better sleep.
  • Adjust the pillow as needed for comfort.
  • Stay hydrated and stretch during the journey.
  • Clean and care for your pillow according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

After that, you will know, as a guide, – How to Choose the Right Travel Pillow for You.

How to Pick a Travel Pillow That Will Support Your Neck – (Best Guide)

A good travel pillow should have a soft cover and be easy to fold up. A backpack pillow with memory foam about 5 inches thick on all sides should be tall enough to support you. If you have a travel pillow that is tall enough to help you, it might get in the way of your headphones or ears.

“Inflatable pillow “These pillows are usually made of PVC or similar materials. These are incredibly lightweight and packed into a small size, making them great for frequent travelers. You can adjust the firmness by adding or omitting air. The downside is that some people find them less comfortable due to the possibility of air leakage.

Memory foam pillowsare famous for the firmness and softness of these cushions. They conform to the shape of your neck and head, reducing strain. It also provides a comfortable, cushioned feel. They are heavier than inflatable options but are often preferred for superior support.

The back of a good flight pillow should be flat, slightly curved, or backward so that it doesn’t push your head forward. If it’s a good travel pillow, it might have straps that you can attach to your plane or car seat or other ways to keep you stable, like non-slip strips on the back so that your head doesn’t fall forward or to the side.

Finally, look for a pillow with a soft and airy cover. Velour, microfiber, and cotton are all soft and nice to wear next to the.

After that, you will know some common questions and answers.

Read more: Is Extra Firm Mattress Good For Babies

FAQs – Are Travel Pillows Bad For Your Neck

Why are travel pillows bad for your neck?

Travel pillows can be bad for your neck if they are misused do not fit well, obstruct your breathing, or do not suit your comfort and body needs. To prevent this, choose a travel pillow that fits you, position it, and be mindful of any discomfort or strain.

Shoulder and Neck Pain: Which Pillow Is Best?

If you suffer from neck or shoulder discomfort, it’s crucial that you choose the right cushion. Pillows made from memory foam are fantastic because they conform to your head and neck and help maintain proper spinal alignment. Latex pillows are durable and offer good support. Some like soft feather or down pillows, while others prefer special cervical pillows. The right pillow varies from person to person, so finding what gives you the most comfort and support is essential.

What Is the Best Pillow for Headaches and Neck Pain?

The best pillow for neck pain and headaches is one that supports your neck and keeps your spine aligned. Memory foam pillows are a good choice because they shape your head and neck. You can also try cervical or orthopedic (mattress) pillows designed for neck support. Everyone is different, so finding the right pillow is important to reduce neck pain and headaches.

Lastly, we are going to the conclusion.


It’s not true that all travel pillows are harmful to your neck. They are designed to provide support and comfort during your journey, reducing the risk of neck pain. But it’s important to choose the right pillow and use it correctly. Select a pillow that offers good support, maintains proper (spine) neck alignment, and suits your preferences. When used appropriately, travel pillows can enhance your travel experience and help prevent neck strain.

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