sex positions for leg pain
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6 Comfortable Sex Positions for People With Leg Pain

Get your O, without the ‘ow’.

If you’ve never had a joint crackle loudly in the middle of sex before, don’t you worry — your time is coming. Truly, for most of us, sadly, it’s not a question of ‘if’, it’s a question of when. As we age, our precious knees always seem to be the first to go. But don’t worry, all is not lost — there are sex positions that reduce leg pain.

Personally, my knees and back are about as stable as a proposal from The Bachelor. They just don’t love me anymore. My knee is shot from running marathons, and believe it or not, I herniated a disc in my sleep. Yes, you read that right. My husband’s body isn’t doing much better. Creativity is crucial when it comes to sex. None of us with knee pain want to wake up the day after with a swollen joint and post-coital regret, but we also don’t want to be celibate, either. That’s why I asked a couple of physical therapists to find out which sex positions are best for people with knee pain. I think you’ll be surprised by the variety of choice there are. I know that I certainly was taken aback by their knowledge and creativity.

Check these out and — the fun part — try them for yourself.


Side-lying position

Lying down on your side isn’t just the preferred sex position of the hugely pregnant — it’s also great for those of us who have leg pain. Why? Because “there is no pressure from bending or weight on either party’s knees and knees can either be straight or bent,” says Dr. Kristina Kehoe, a physical therapist. The legs are supported or elevated, and it’s all around comfy.

To get there, Kehoe suggests the following: “In a side-lying position, one partner who is penetrating lays behind while the receiving partner lays in front and can be facing forward or away.” Basically, you can be face-to-face or spooning.


Laptop sex

“In this position,” says Keyoe, “if the partner has a penis, they can sit on a chair while the other partner sits in their lap.” The benefit of this position, apart from the fact that it’s not messing up your sheets is that “this position does not put any strain on either the receiving or giving party’s knees. Also, the knees aren’t bent at a small angle so there isn’t excess strain on the joints that way,” according to Kehoe.


Backward and forward straddling

Also known as cowgirl and reverse cowgirl, this one is best if the person doing the penetrating is the “horse” in this scenario. “This position involves the penetrating partner to be laying face-up while the receiving partner sits on tops,” Kehoe explains. “This position will avoid putting stress on the giving party’s knees, but does require the knees of the receiving partner to be bent and may not be advantageous if the receiving partner is the one with knee pain.”


Get vertical

Have you ever tried standing or leaning sex? While it might feel acrobatic, it’s really not, says Dr. Celeste Compton, a doctor of physical therapy with a board-certified specialization in women's and pelvic health. You should definitely consider standing, and “if you are on the receiving end, try leaning over a counter or bed so that your weight is moved to your arms and trunk rather than your knees,” Compton suggests.


Missionary, but make it comfortable

“If you are on the bottom in the missionary position, try to avoid your knees falling open unsupported,” notes Compton. “Instead, move your foot so that it is in line with your knees and hips. Also, consider using pillows to support your legs so that your muscles are able to relax in this position.” Think of lying in a nest, where your legs and knees are fully supported.


Sunny side up

Not all sex is penetrative sex, obviously. For oral “sunny side up” sex — where the giver facing down and the recipient facing up — is the preferred position of many runners I spoke with, as well as for Dr. Compton. There’s no stress on the knees because no one has their knees bent.

Leg pain shouldn’t mean that you have to give up on the pleasures your body is meant to experience. With these comfortable sex positions for leg pain, your knee and leg pain won’t be holding you back. But, I can’t say the same about your screaming toddler or pure parental exhaustion — those things can’t be helped.

Sources interviewed:

Dr. Celestine Compton, PT, DPT, a doctor of physical therapy with a board certified specialization in women's and pelvic health.

Dr. Kristina Kehoe, a physical therapist and board-certified women's health specialist.