Sex & Relationships

Sex positions for bad knees will help you feel more comfortable.
Shutterstock

7 Sex Positions To Try If You Have A Bad Knee & Doggy Style Won't Work

Sex should never have to feel painful.

Updated: 
Originally Published: 

If, like many people, you suffer from physical ailments such as bad knees, sex can sometimes be tricky. A stand-by like doggy style just isn't going to cut it if the thought of sitting like that for an extended period of time brings you discomfort. Still, even if you have common body aches and pains, having fun, enjoyable sex shouldn’t be off the table. Instead, get creative, try something new if you’re comfortable, and explore some of these expert-backed sex positions for bad knees.

You're not alone in this issue. One in four adults suffer from chronic knee pain, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In addition to making day-to-day activities difficult, knee pain, stiffness, and discomfort can lead to problems in your sex life, but that doesn't mean that it has to be the end of it or that sex has to be boring. The truth is that there is no need to let pain ruin your sex life. In fact, you can have amazing sex with your partner while also saving yourself from excess suffering.

One big thing to keep in mind when it comes to intimacy is that oral and manual sex are just as valid as penetrative, and these are great options to keep in mind if one parter suffers from knee pain, sex educator and dominatrix Lola Jean tells Romper. In addition, she recommends seeing sex as a journey, one that can and should incorporate breaks as needed.

“We need to divorce ourselves from this really straight escalator, linear approach to sex that we often see in the movies,” Jean says. “Sex can be a really long thing that is not continuous right there and then — we should be able to build in breaks and move from one position to another, with the end goal being having fun and feeling good.”

There’s no one solution to the issue of knee pain and intimacy. Every person’s level of discomfort is unique and will call for different approaches, Kristin Sapienza, licensed physical therapist and founder of FemFirstHealth, tells Romper. “It all depends on the knee injury — you may feel pain with pressure on the knees, or you may have difficulty bending your knee,” she says. “If there's arthritis or even meniscus injuries, you’ll want to avoid extreme flexion in the knee, so extreme bending or sitting back on your knees may be very painful.”

If you're in search of ways to continue to have sex without excess pressure, here are seven sex positions for bad knees to help you maximize pleasure and minimize pain.

1

Missionary

PeopleImages/E+/Getty Images

Finding the right sex positions for your body is essential when you have serious knee pain, which is why the classic missionary position is a solid option. “If you're receiving in the missionary position, you actually really don't have to do much,” says Jean. “You can be a really passive receiver.” The partner on top will be the one doing most of the movement.

Missionary is an excellent position for those with knee pain because it allows you to keep your legs extended with no external pressure on the knees.

2

Spooning

Another great position for anyone who experiences knee pain is spooning, or side lying. Since you’re on your side, there is no direct pressure on your knees. This one is great because it allows you to avoid any positions that include prolonged crouching, squatting, or kneeling, which can put unnecessary force on your lower body, explains Sapienza. It will work if one or both partners need to alleviate knee pain.

One thing to keep in mind with this position, though, is that it requires quite a bit of movement, according to Jean. “It has a lot of depth, and there's a lot of intimacy with the skin-to-skin [contact], but it's really a movement that's mostly a bit of rocking,” she explains. Take it slow at first to determine whether it feels OK.

3

Planking

If doggy style was one of your go-tos but is no longer a sustainable option for you, planking is a great substitute, according to Jean. Essentially, this position requires the penetrating partner to “plank” on top of the other, with their front on the other person's back. “This one’s really good because there's a lot of skin-to-skin [contact], a lot of intimacy, and your heads match up together,” says Jean. Again, it works well for either partner with bad knees, since both people can keep their legs relatively straight.

To get there, Jean says it’s usually helpful to set up in a doggy style position, whether you're doing anal or vaginal sex, and then transition to one person being on the other person's back.

4

With A Pillow Under Your Butt

Using props for assistance is a great idea for any kind of body aches and pains, in general, but especially for the knees, according to Jean. As one specific position, you can try missionary with a pillow under your butt (this works best to alleviate pain for the receiving partner). Not only does this position make it easier to stretch out your legs, but, if you’re on the receiving end, it also allows your partner to penetrate you deeper for G-spot stimulation. If you’re on your side, try placing the pillow between your knees to reduce any pressure to the area.

“You don't have to get sex pillows, specifically,” says Jean. “You can get ones that are made for comfort, just to have the right alignment with each other.” Keep working the pillows until you get into a comfortable enough position, and you’ll be sure to have a great time.

5

Standing Up

Eugenio Marongiu/Image Source/Getty Images

Another position to consider for sex with bad knees is standing sex. If you stand up with your elbows braced against a wall, your partner should be able to comfortably enter you from the back, and neither of you has to put pressure on your knees. The thing to keep in mind, however, is to make sure that you are not holding up your partner’s whole body weight, Jean explains.

“Standing up can actually be quite difficult,” says Jean. If you can’t quite get the angle right from behind, try leaning back against the wall and having your partner enter you missionary-style from the front. Wrap your arms around their neck or waist for stability. And with the knees in mind, Jean also recommends keeping your legs as straight you can. “I also think when your legs are a little bit locked and not bent, it can be easier for people who might have bad knees,” she says.

6

Bent Over The Bed Or Counter

In the scenario that you and your partner both have bad knees, using a structure such as a bed, countertop, or table can be very helpful. “This could be something where I think you could be bent over with your face down or you could have your legs overhead,” says Jean. Try laying on the edge of the bed with your legs in the air, or bend over on the bed with your partner standing straight up (no knees bent) to enter you.

7

Happy Baby

Yoga poses are a great source of inspiration for sex positions for bad knees. “Think about a yoga pose that feels comfortable for you, and then basically find a way to have sex in it,” says Jean. “For example, when a person is on their back, they can easily get into yoga-like poses.”

One specific yoga-inspired position that Jean recommends trying out is similar to the happy baby pose, where the person on the bottom is holding their knees toward their chest and receiving penetration — while also getting a great knee stretch, she adds. This may not work for all types of knee injuries, but if it sounds appealing to you, it’s definitely worth trying.

Though it might be awkward to bring up knee injuries and discomfort in the context of sex, you should be open about all body aches, pains, and stiffness relating to sex and intimacy. If you find that knee pain is affecting your sex life or giving you cause for concern, talk to your doctor — be it a general practitioner, orthopedist, or physical therapist. “This is 100% something to express to their doctor, because having intimacy is a quality of life factor,” says Sapienza. “And they should be totally honest and express this to their partner, too.”

When it comes to the bedroom, advocate for yourself and what feels good to you — speak up for pleasure as well as pain — and hopefully you’ll find some things to do that make you forget you have knee pain at all.

Sources interviewed:

Lola Jean, sex educator and dominatrix

Kristin Sapienza, licensed physical therapist and founder of FemFirstHealth