Athletes wear the best knee sleeves to provide their joints with added support and in order to keep the joints in the knees warm between reps. For most wearers, it’s often about preventing an injury, while for others it’s to enjoy a better, safer workout. Either way, most weight trainers know that wearing knees sleeves can be very beneficial.
Knee Compression Sleeve Buying Guide
The best knee compression sleeve comes in a couple of different widths: 7mm and 5mm. A different width means a different type of support is provided. For the most support, you should look for a thicker sleeve. For less knee support, look for a thinner sleeve.
The 7mm sleeve offers the most support and maximizes warmth for the joints around it and the patella. So, why is warmth important? When heat is created around the joints it can help to keep the muscles warm between reps, which, in turn, helps to reduce chances of injury. For the more advanced athlete and weightlifter, the 7mm size is the best choice.
The 5mm size offers above average support and can also provide warmth to the joints and muscles. Most of the top brands don’t offer this size.
Choosing the Best Knee Compression Sleeve
As we previously mentioned, most sleeves are available in either 5mm or 7mm widths. Most lifters tend to choose the 7mm width sleeve which offers more options, but more options can make it difficult to make the right choice. If support isn’t a major concern than the 5mm sleeve will be sufficient. This can help to narrow down your choices.
After width, you’ll need to look at the length. Most brands of compression sleeves offer the same length, while certain brands can offer a longer sleeve that extends about an inch below the knee for additional support. Some athletes may like this additional support, while others may find the length uncomfortable. It all boils down to what the lifter or athlete is looking for.
Drawbacks of Lifting with Knee Compression Sleeves
The biggest complaint lifters have when working out with a knee sleeve is the fact that most of them will slide or slip down the knee with weightlifting, doing squats, or cardio. This can be due to a buildup of sweat, which will cause the surface area to become slick, or the wearer is using the wrong size. However, even the best brands can slip a little during use.
Other lifters feel that wearing a compression sleeve isn’t quite as effective as wearing a knee wrap. These lifters feel that the support just isn’t there because they have no control over how loose or tight the sleeve is. But as long as you choose the right size, the sleeve should be secure and tight. You can also find sleeves that feature extra cessations, which will allow them to stay in place better.
Knee Sleeves for Joint Support
Many lifters also believe that the knee sleeve offers an advantage as opposed to lifting without them. The heavier the weight, the more advantages wearing compression sleeves offer. There are those powerlifters who don’t believe that any type of equipment adds extra strength or support, but other wearers will notice a difference right away. Overall, we feel that wearing one or two during a particularly tough workout offers plenty of extra support. If you have banged up knees like many powerlifters do, then you’ll feel the difference immediately.
Can Anyone wear a Knee Sleeve?
To wear a knee sleeve the user should be active and ready for training. Like with most products, the more you wear the sleeve the better it will feel, which can improve your overall performance, help your knees to heal quicker and can also promote increased circulation.
The sleeves can be worn to make an existing injury feel better or it can be used to prevent additional injuries from occurring.
Measuring for a Knee Sleeve
In order to choose the best sleeve, you’ll first need to measure around your knee to ensure that you order the right size. To measure correctly, we suggest you measure the circumference of your leg above the kneecap. Sizes can vary depending on the brand. On average, ten to twelve inches is a small, thirteen to fifteen inches is medium, while sixteen to eighteen inches is large. Most people who regularly use sleeves recommend purchasing a size smaller for added security and reduced slippage. A sleeve that feels snug is a good sleeve.
After you choose the right size, you can focus on the width that will work best for your needs. Typically, more support is best for lifting, but if you’re wearing the sleeve to run in, then you may not need any extra support.
Just as an added note, pay close attention when you’re ordering a sleeve. Some sellers will only sell them individually, while others will sell them in pairs.
Knee sleeves add a valuable compression element that can reduce pain and increase blood flow, and not just during a performance. The reason that the compression aspect is important is that a compressed knee will encourage blood flow through the blood vessels of the knees. Simply put, wearing knee sleeves can result in reduced swelling and pain during and after a workout.
The lifting force involves a decent amount of mass, which means when you lift progressively heavier it tends to grind the kneecap onto itself. This can often lead to tendonitis. Statistics show that nearly one in twenty Americans over the age of fifty have artificial knees, which totals to more than four million people in this country alone. So, if knee issues are this common with the average population, just imagine how much an athlete or a weightlifter are at risk.
These sleeves are usually made from neoprene material and easily slide on over the knee. As we have mentioned, wearing sleeves can limit patella movement, add warmth to the muscles and joints and can also increase proprioception. In other words, the sleeves are more than a mechanical support mechanism for the joints, but can also be used to improve circulation and improve proprioception.
There is an important difference to understand between sleeves and braces. With knee braces, the protective cushioning is designed to protect the patella and anterior knee, while the sleeve doesn’t provide the same time of ligament support. Because of this, if you have unstable knees and you’re using a knee sleeve to stabilize or fix your knees, it may not be enough. You should speak with your orthopedic surgeon or doctor and determine the appropriate treatment options. In fact, for some, the sleeve can cause increased swelling and may be aggravating to unstable knees due to the restriction of venous and lymphatic return below the knee.
Downside to Knee Sleeves
A pair of compression sleeves can do wonders when it comes to making warming up more efficient, but that doesn’t mean that you should slack on warming up properly. You still need to work on your mobility, stretching your hips, quads, and hamstrings before you work out.
While the sleeves can help to speed up the recovery process, that doesn’t mean that you should cut down on the quality or quantity of your rest days. Sleeves are merely an accessory to your recovery program, not the main solution. They can help reduce pain, but you should not give up your recovery days just because you use them.
Here’s the thing about knee sleeves- you must avoid becoming too dependent on them. They’re not a substitute for proper technique and form.
Weightlifting and Knee Compression Sleeves
A knee compression sleeve doesn’t need to be worn for all types of weightlifting exercises. It’s not really necessary if the knees aren’t the primary lifting source. However, they do provide much-needed support for performing squats, clean and jerks or snatches. Any time the knees are left vulnerable or weak, they’re at a greater risk for damage. Unfortunately, too often this involves long-term damage.
People who start lifting heavy more frequently should wear knee sleeves to protect their knees from wear and tear. Lifting heavy can be very stressful on the body. Your knees will need all of the additional support from the stresses and strains to prevent injury. But it remains to be seen if wearing sleeves can actually help the lifter to lift more. Some lifters swear by them, claiming that without the sleeves they can’t lift as much, but this may simply be a case of the lifter becoming dependent on them and they have forgotten how it feels to lift without them. In the end, the true purpose of the sleeve isn’t to lift more, it’s to help prevent and protect against future injuries.
Many people will wear sleeves even when they’re not working out. Since they can increase blood flow, they can be worn even during normal daily activities. This would mainly occur if you have some soreness or an injury. Most lifters, when they feel even the smallest amount of pain or stiffness in their knees will wear their sleeves on their rest day.
If you’re fairly new to weightlifting, you probably won’t need to use knee sleeves. Simply put, you won’t be lifting enough weight at this point, so there won’t be enough pressure bearing down on the knees. However, even a beginner may need them if they use poor form. Poor technique or training can be a total disaster and may have a major negative impact on your body. So, in order to help you to retain the proper muscles, you may need some extra support. After a few months or so of lifting, sleeves can be very helpful for the portion of a workout that involves the knees.
Most pros do recommend knee sleeves for all advanced and intermediate lifters as the amount of support they offer really can help to hold the knee in place, preventing injury. Basically, the right equipment, the right form, and compression sleeves for the knees can equal better efficiency and increased strength in the long-term.
Knee Sleeves Comparison Chart
|Product||Size Options||Single Pair||Width||Price||Link|
|Nordic Lifting Knee Sleeves ||6||Pair||7mm||$$|
|Rehband Rx Knee Support||7||Single||5mm||$$$|
|Emerge Fitness Knee Sleeves ||4||Pair||7mm||$|
1. Nordic Lifting:
These neoprene sleeves are so popular you’re bound to see them widely used at your local gym. For a pair of compression sleeves that offer just the right amount of support at an affordable price, we guarantee they’re tough enough to handle your workout, while allowing you to remain pain-free on your recovery day.
2. Rehband Rx Knee Support sleeve:
This popular knee sleeve can be worn during a serious weight training session or on your recovery day. It’s highly durable, flexible and guaranteed to last for years. The only strike against this sleeve is the steep price, but the overall quality makes it worth every penny.
3. Emerge Fitness Knee Sleeves:
This set of knee sleeves is a perfect choice for the user who lifts light to moderate weight. The lack of rigidity these sleeves offer makes them a poor choice for heavy lifters, but they can be a great buy for a light to moderate weight training session, or for HIIT routines.
The Nordic Lifting knee sleeves are designed to provide much-needed support to the knees, allowing you to lift more, enjoy a more challenging workout, and all without the fear of putting undue strain on your joints. These knee sleeves will give the lifter the type of confidence it takes to squat deep and to take on even the most challenging CrossFit workouts. And even better, you get two knee sleeves at a more affordable price. With the quality stitching and different sizing options, you’re sure to find the right pair that can take your lifting to the next level.
This knee support sleeve by Rehband is one of the top selling models of knee sleeves on the market. Offering the type of rigid fit you need if you’re into lifting heavy, this ultra-durable sleeve will last you for several years and then some. Rehband is a common brand you’ll find in any CrossFit gym and that’s because they use only the toughest material, innovative cuts, and quality stitching. This is our top rated product and one that’s offered at a higher price, but for what it can do for your workout, it’s totally worth it.
This pair of Emerge Fitness knee sleeves is one of the top selling products on Amazon. This is mainly due to their low price, which gets you two knee sleeves for a fraction of what the competition is charging for one. These are not the best sleeves for the power lifter, but they’re perfect for HIIT enthusiasts, and light to moderate lifters.