Knee Support

Knee Sleeves 101: Everything You Should Know

best knee sleeves

Do you ever feel like we don’t pay enough attention to our bodies until something goes wrong?

Knee problems and knee pain are among the most common complaints with people of all ages. According to the Mayo Clinic, knee pain can occur for a variety of reasons including injury or from medical conditions such as arthritis or gout.

So what can be done about such a persistent problem that seems to plague many of us? One alternative people choose for pain relief and functional support is knee sleeves.

The compression material in knee sleeves provides support to the knees and is often used during sports like basketball, weight lifting, and running.

In this article, we’ll cover more details about knee sleeves, including who benefits from using knee sleeves, the best knee sleeves available, recommended care for knee sleeves, and how to choose the right size and material. Here's a preview of the topics covered in this post:

 

  • The Purpose of Knee Sleeves
  • If Using Knee Sleeves is Beneficial
  • Finding the Best Knee Sleeves
  • What Size of Knee Sleeves to Get
  • How to Wash Knee Sleeves
  • Most Affordable Knee Sleeves
knee sleeves weightlifting

What do Knee Sleeves Do?

Gaining more and more popularity within the fitness world, knee sleeves provide warmth and compression to the knees. The compression increases blood flow and responsiveness from the knee, helping you perform with better control and stability.

Knee sleeves are a valuable component of any gym bag because they help limit kneecap movement and can increase the body’s ability to sense its location, movements, and actions.

When performing a workout (such as squats, the snatch, or the clean and jerk), many people feel the warming effect of knee sleeves right away, which stimulates blood flow and often times reduces pain and discomfort.

Knee sleeves can also be used post-workout because they aid in the recovery process by reducing swelling and minimizing pain. They’re a big help for people who are into CrossFit and are used post-WOD for this exact reason.

The Benefits of Using Knee Sleeves

One of the biggest benefits of wearing knee sleeves is its ability to alleviate pain relief. Aside from that, there are several other benefits of wearing knee sleeves. Here are some of our favorite benefits that knee sleeves provide:

1) Knee Support

There’s a lot of stress and pressure that’s put on our joints during workouts, especially on our knees. Knee sleeves are used to help combat some of the pain and provide much-needed support. For this reason, they’re popular with Olympic weightlifters and powerlifters.

Knee sleeves also help with your technique by aligning and supporting crucial parts, allowing you to perform better during squats and lower-body workouts.

2) Knee Compression

Knee sleeves help increase blood flow and reduce pain and swelling. That’s largely due to the compression material and it’s what makes knee compression sleeves so popular.

Wearing compression knee sleeves warms up the impact area to regulate blood flow which helps alleviate pain, which is the ultimate reason for wearing knee sleeves.

3) Knee Recovery

One of the reasons that knee sleeves are so popular in CrossFit is because they help athletes in their recovery process. After performing WODs, knee sleeves work to reduce swelling and pain through the compression warming effect. Knee sleeves are not meant to be used or worn as a brace. Above all, technique and form are always first.

knee sleeves squats

Choosing the Best Knee Sleeves

How do you pick knee sleeves that are best for squats or leg workouts? There are a few options for knee sleeves whether you’re looking for powerlifting knee sleeves, CrossFit knee sleeves, or compression knee sleeves.

Ultimately, they should all do the same job and provide support, compression, and recovery relief. What’s the difference between powerlifting knee sleeves and CrossFit knee sleeves?

The main difference is the thickness of the knee sleeve material. Powerlifters typically use thicker knee sleeves or knee wraps for support and stability.

Knee wraps are made from the same elastic material as wrist wraps and store energy that gives the power and momentum to complete a squat. Knee wraps are also popular with powerlifters and bodybuilders.

A CrossFit sleeve or a compression knee sleeve is made out of Neoprene material and comes in different thickness options (3mm to 7mm). Compression knee sleeves are made to last due to the Neoprene material, which works to hold and retain heat.

The heat from the knee sleeves helps regulate blood flow, reduce muscle stiffness, and improve knee mobility. In addition to CrossFit, the thicker material knee sleeves are perfect for powerlifting, cross-training, weightlifting, bodybuilding, and all other fitness enthusiasts.

 

How to Measure for Knee Sleeves

A common question for people looking to purchase knee sleeves is how to measure and find the right fit. How tight should knee sleeves for squats be? Both questions are valid because it can be somewhat tricky to find the right size. However, there is an easy way to find the right compression knee sleeve size.

Compression knee sleeves should not be loose or baggy, in fact, a snug fit is exactly what you’re looking for so that you can get the right support. The knee sleeve should not be so tight that it cuts off flow or feel like it’s pinching your knee/skin. To find the right knee sleeve size, you’ll need a ruler and string, or if you have a measuring tape handy then that’ll work best.

Steps on measuring for knee sleeves:

  • Start by having your knee extended out (if sitting) or simply standing
  • If you’re using tape, measure around the center of your kneecap
  • If you’re using string, you’ll do the same thing but compare the length of the string by measuring it with a ruler
  • Once you find the correct measurement compare it to the size chart.

How to Wash Knee Sleeves

Caring for knee sleeves is an important part of ownership. After all, we sweat a lot during our workouts, and knee sleeves can get pretty musty. There are steps you can take to prevent the smell such as turning your knee sleeves inside out after a session and letting them air dry. To maximize the lifetime of knee sleeves, here’s how to take care of them.

Best Methods

The best way to wash your knee sleeves is to wash them by hand in a sink, submerging them in water mixed with detergent and scrubbing them with a cloth. While using a washing machine may be an easier route, I recommend you avoid putting your sleeves in the washing machine. Washing your sleeves in a machine increases the risk of damaging them, causing them to break down faster over time.

Suggested Products

While you can use regular detergent to wash your sleeves, I highly recommend using a sport-specific detergent that is designed to target odor caused by sweat.

Sport-specific detergents, like Tide Plus Febreze Sport Active, are more likely to kill bacteria from sweat and leave your sleeves smelling fresh.

Best Temperature

It’s best to wash your sleeves in warm or cold water to protect the material because hot water can cause even the highest-quality materials to break down more quickly.

To preserve your knee sleeves for as long as possible, follow the instructions that have been provided by the manufacturer.

Additionally, ensure that you’re using a detergent that works at the same water temperature that your sleeves require.

Frequency

As a general rule of thumb, your knee sleeves should be washed every 2 weeks; more often if you’re a heavy sweater, or less often if you hardly break a sweat.

A good indication that your sleeves are due for a wash is if you start to smell them in your gym bag or if they are leaving an odor behind on your knees when you take them off. Follow this guide for a step-by-step process on washing your knee sleeves.

Most Affordable Knee Sleeves for Lifting

We’ve covered a lot of information that is useful to anyone looking for knee support and pain relief. In this article, you’ve discovered a full overview of what knee sleeves do, who benefits from using knee sleeves, the best knee sleeves available, how to choose the right size and material, and recommended care for knee sleeves.

References

  1. Knee pain - Symptoms and causes. (2021).
  2. Loudon, J. (2016). BIOMECHANICS AND PATHOMECHANICS OF THE PATELLOFEMORAL JOINT. International Journal Of Sports Physical Therapy, 11(6), 820.

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