Last Updated February 6, 2021
Knee pain is the worst.
Your knees work hard every day to keep you upright and keep you mobile. But all of that work all too often comes at a price. Many people all over the world suffer from swelling and other kinds of knee pain.
The good news? Knee pain is easy to treat with a compression therapy regimen.
What are Knee Sleeves
Knee sleeves are one form of compression gear that targets the knee in particular. They slide on over the foot and up the leg so that they cover the knee and a few inches above it and below it.
While knee sleeves may look like knee braces, they serve a different purpose. Knee sleeves are designed to apply pressure to the knee and the area immediately around it. This improves circulation and decreases pain associated with swelling, varicose veins, and staying in one position for too long.
Who are Knee Sleeves For
Knee sleeves are for anyone who experiences knee pain. They can help those with circulatory disorders such as varicose veins, arthritis, and swelling, but many otherwise healthy people can benefit from knee sleeves too. Many people, including athletes, pregnant women, and those whose jobs require them to stand or sit for long periods of time may also experience relief by wearing knee sleeves.
And if you suffer from arthritis or lingering pain from a previous injury? Knee sleeves can help with that too.
How Do Knee Sleeves Help
Like other compression garments, knee sleeves work by applying targeted pressure. This pressure counteracts the harmful effects of gravity on leg circulation. Improved circulation leads to less pain and swelling. It can also improve post-workout recovery because the blood can bring more oxygen to the legs more quickly.
Knee sleeves also apply support to the patella to reduce joint pain that can result from repetitive movements.
What are the Best Knee Sleeves (Including Knee Sleeve Reviews):
If it seems like there are a lot of knee sleeves on the market… well, that’s because there are! Unfortunately, not all of them are the best quality. That’s why we did the work for you and reviewed tons of top sleeves online to see which ones were the best for which situations.
Top Rated Knee Sleeves
FIT4YOU has a great pair of knee sleeves. In fact, they have a perfect five-star rating! Why? Because they are a durable yet affordable pair of knee sleeves that are perfect for every occasion. Thought they are especially marketed towards people who participate in sports and athletic activities, they can help anyone who experiences knee pain. The only down side? They only come in medium and large sizes, so they may not be a good fit for people with especially small or especially big knees.
Best Knee Sleeves for Arthritis
Do you need knee sleeves for joint pain? The Copper Knee Sleeve is a good option. It is designed to allow for a good range of movement while still providing support. Since they stay in place very well, you won’t have to bend over to adjust them constantly. They also come in a wide variety of sizes to fit every body.
As an additional perk, the Copper Knee Sleeve air dries quickly after you wash it.
Best Knee Sleeves for Lifting
Let’s be real. Lifting puts a lot of strain on your legs and knees in particular. You need a knee sleeve that will work hard like you do. Nordic Lifting has got you covered. They make a simple, flexible knee sleeve that comes in a variety of sizes from x-small to xx-large. They are designed to fit men and women and go well with any workout outfit.
Best Knee Sleeves for Squats
Everyone knows squats are great for you, but they can sometimes take a serious toll on your knees! Squats require a wide range of motion, so you will need an especially flexible compression sleeve for your knee. ProFitness makes a high-quality sleeve that comes in three different colors and five different sizes. They provide extra strong support, no matter how low you go in your squat.
Best Knee Sleeves for Sports
You enjoy sports. You want to help your team. You can’t let knee pain hold you back.
Which knee sleeves work best for sports like tennis, basketball, soccer, rugby, and football? You’ll need a sleeve that allows you to move quickly and can last for an entire game or match.
Fortunately, Sparthos makes a compression sleeve that is perfect to keep you competitive when you are working hard for long periods of time. It’s quick drying, no-slip technology ensures that you don’t have to worry about your knee sleeve and can focus on the match at hand. The high-quality materials will also hold up for the entire season!
As an added bonus, the knee sleeves come in several colors, so you can find one to match your team!
Best Knee Sleeves for Running
Whether you sprint or run ultra marathons, you know that running (especially on hard surfaces) can do a number on your knees.
NEENCA makes a knee compression sleeve especially for runners. Like other sleeves designed for athletes, it stays in place easily. It also has a small gel insert to keep your knees cool while they work hard to carry you from the starting line to the finish line with no pain.
Knee Sleeves for Women
Sometimes size charts are not designed for women, especially very petite women. That’s why POWERLIX compression sleeves work well for women. While the small size for some knee sleeves is for people with 14 inch (or more) thigh circumferences, this knee sleeve has options for people with circumferences as small as 8 inches.
While the smallest options may be best for children (always check with your child’s doctor before using compression gear), women are more likely to find a size that suits their leg size. Like the other options, the POWERLIX knee sleeve is of a high-quality and should hold up for a wide variety of activities.
Compression Sleeve for Knee Pain
Sometimes your knees just hurt. Sitting or standing for long periods of time can give them unnecessary strain. Athledict makes a special knee sleeve that has adjustable straps for adjustable compression. This means that you can change the strength based on your pain. If that varies depending on what you do, no problem!
Make sure you reference the size chart so that you can get the most out of your compression regimen!
Knee Pad Sleeves
Knee pad sleeves are going to be best for sports like volleyball. If you need to make a fantastic save, you will have to dive onto the floor. If you don’t want to leave a trail of blood and injure yourself, you’re going to need knee pads. If you need knee support too, there is good news.
McDavid makes a great pair of knee sleeves that provide extra padding. This means you can make the game-winning save and not have to worry! This pair of knee sleeves wicks away moisture and stays in place, no matter how hard you play. They also come in seven different colors, so you can show your team spirit.
Padded knee sleeves also work great if you have knee pain but do things like gardening where you may kneel for long periods of time.
What to Look for in a Knee Sleeve
Regardless of your reason for wearing a knee sleeve, there are a few universal truths when it comes to shopping for one.
- Choose Quality
If you buy a cheap, poorly made knee sleeve, you will be able to tell immediately. Thin, low-quality compression gear will fray, fade, and develop holes quickly. It will also not work as well. How can you support your knee with a flimsy garment?
- If you buy a cheap knee compression sleeve, you will soon be back on the market for knee sleeves again and spending more. In the meantime, your team and your performance will suffer. You’ll experience unnecessary pain.
- Save yourself the suffering, the money, and the trouble. Buy good quality gear the first time around.
- Pay Attention to Compression Level and Size
How many things have you ever bought that are one-size-fits-all? Have you ever been satisfied with any of them?
Probably not. Compression gear works best when it is sized to fit you or adjustable. In fact, wearing improperly sized compression sleeves can set you back in your health goals instead of helping you.
- Make sure you take good measurements and pay attention to the size charts when buying any compression garment. And, if you get the sleeve and it feels too loose or too tight, go up or down a size as needed.
Likewise, compression gear has different pressure levels. Lighter pressure is best for mild pains and light exercise. Medium pressure works for varicose veins, swelling, pregnant women, and people who travel a lot. Higher pressure is for people who are recovering from surgery, those with DVT, and severe varicose veins. The higher compression levels should only be used with a prescription.
- Most knee sleeves come in moderate compression. Some, however, feature adjustable straps so that you can make sure the sleeves apply the right amount of pressure at all times.
Just because compression socks and sleeves are technically medical gear doesn’t mean they have to be frumpy! Since many people benefit from compression therapy, there are lots of styles available. Don’t settle for something ugly. Wear something stylish to help heal your aching knees and improve your confidence at the same time.
- In addition, you may even be able to find gear that matches your team or your outfit so you can really show off your spirit and style.
How to Measure for Knee Sleeves
The most important measurement for knee sleeves is the circumference of the thigh. This is the widest part of the leg that the sleeve will cover.
To get this measurement, take a tape measure and wrap it around your thigh about four inches above the kneecap, while standing. If you have limited mobility, it will be easier to have someone help you with this.
Most knee sleeves come in sizes based on this measurement. The circumference will correspond to a size (small, medium, large, etc.) on the brand’s website. Make sure you check this as a small in one brand may equate to a large in another.
If you fall between sizes, go with the next size up. You don’t want your knee sleeve cutting off circulation as that will be counterproductive to your health goals. And, if you find that your sleeve is too loose or too tight after you buy it, return it for the next size up or down so that you don’t make your pain worse with improperly fitting gear.
How Tight Should Knee Sleeves Be
Unlike compression socks, knee sleeves rarely come in different levels of compression. Some, however, can be adjusted using straps that come with the sleeve.
Your knee sleeve should feel tight, but not painful, numbing, or uncomfortable. You should still have a full range of motion and not lose feeling below the knee. If you experience any of these problems, loosen the straps or use a larger product.
When Should You Wear Knee Sleeves
You should wear a knee sleeve any time you experience knee pain or swelling!
In particular, knee sleeves can be beneficial during exercise. They can both relieve discomfort from past injuries and prevent future injuries.
In fact, if you have had a past knee injury, you may experience pain in a variety of different settings including travel. Wearing a knee sleeve any time you have a flare-up can ease this pain.
It is important to remember that sometimes compression therapy can take some getting used to. Start by wearing your knee sleeve for an hour or two at a time before working your way up to longer stretches such as a long airplane ride or a long day of sitting in the office.
As always, you should ask your doctor if you have any questions.
How Long Should Knee Sleeves Be Worn
Once you are used to compression socks and sleeves, you can wear them from the time you get up until you go to bed at night. Cross country car trip? No problem! Standing for your whole shift? Got it!
As noted above, take a few days to work up to longer stretches of time and always check in with your doctor before starting any therapy regimen.
It is also important to remember that, in general, you should not lie down to sleep with your compression gear on for two main reasons. First, if you are laying down, you are not going to have the same circulation problems that you would normally have when sitting or standing. This is because your body does not have to work as hard to counteract the effects of gravity. Secondly, if the compression is too tight, you may not notice. This could make existing circulation problems much worse.
How to Wash Knee Sleeves
Do you like your knee sleeves? Do you want to keep them in tip-top shape?
Protect your investment. Wash your knee sleeves by hand. And then let them air dry.
Sure, some labels may say that you can wash them on a delicate cycle with cold water, but, over time, this will take its toll on the garment.
To wash your sleeves by hand, draw a bucket of cold water with mild soap. Soak the socks for a few minutes to loosen dirt and odors. Lightly scrub the socks to remove any persistent stains.
Then, run your knee sleeves under cool, running water for a minute to remove any soap and loosened dirt. Wring them out, and then hang them to dry.
Since knee sleeves are in direct contact with your skin, they should be washed after every wear or at least every other wear. If you buy a quality knee sleeve, however, they will be likely be made of a thick material that takes longer to dry. Because of this, it is a good idea to have an extra pair or two of knee sleeves to wear while the other ones dry.
Do Compression Socks Help With Knee Pain?
Are knee sleeves your only option for knee pain?
Compression socks can also do wonders for knee pain while also providing relief to other parts of the leg. This is why many people with conditions such as varicose veins that affect the entire leg opt for compression socks instead of smaller knee sleeves.
A sock that just covers the knee or a longer sock that goes half-way up the thigh will provide knee and lower leg relief at the same time. For some fashionable and comfortable options, check out ComproGear’s line of compression knee socks.
Knee Compression Sleeves vs. Knee Braces
We already mentioned that knee compression sleeves and knee braces are not the same. But what exactly is the difference?
Knee braces are for people who are recovering from injury and need to work especially hard to prevent further injury as they go about their daily activities. They limit movement so that any motion must be slow and deliberate. Knee braces also tend to be bulkier than knee sleeves, making them harder to wear under clothes.
On the other hand, knee sleeves are easier to put on and take off. They work to combat a variety of leg and circulatory ailments. Since them are also thinner than a knee brace, they can be comfortably worn under any type of clothing, even leggings, running pants, or tight jeans.
Where to Buy Knee Compression Sleeves
It’s 2020. Where do you buy everything?
You can use the internet to buy basically anything, and knee compression sleeves are no exception. In fact, it’s probably preferable to use the internet because it makes it very easy to compare brands, sizes, and styles. You will know that you are making a well-informed choice because you have been able to make these comparisons.
Sure, some pharmacies do sell knee sleeves, but they may not have the size or style you need. While settle for a frumpy pair of knee sleeves when you have the whole world at your fingertips with the click of a mouse?
Another great perk of buying online? Shipping speeds have gotten so fast that your new knee sleeves will be at your doorstep before you know it. There’s no reason to suffer knee pain longer than necessary!
Got knee pain? Consider developing a compression therapy regimen. If your pain is confined to the knee alone and results from arthritis or a previous injury, knee sleeves might be the solution you are looking for! If the pain radiates throughout the leg, compression socks might be a better bet. In either case, be sure to talk with your doctor about any treatments you try.
The good news? Pain-free knees might be closer than you think!