Knee sleeves protect the knees from injuries and promote better circulation, among other benefits. But do you really need them? What are the pros and cons? If you do decide to wear knee sleeves, which ones are best?
Paul Vanhyken of Rigor Fitness has researched the topic extensively for his own blog.
^^^Click above for full details, including ultra-nerdy charts!
In the guest post that follows, Paul summarizes his findings and offers his recommendations.
Over to you, Paul.
– Eric Bach
Thanks, Eric. The main goal of a knee sleeve is to reduce pain. Most knee sleeves are made from neoprene, which makes them easy to put on. The smooth material easily slides over the knees.
Though often mistaken for knee braces, the essential function of knee sleeves is actually different.
If your knees are frequently exposed to pressure, wearing knee sleeves will reduce overall damage. They can also contribute to better recovery if you do get injured.
Knee sleeves come in different shapes and sizes. Some knee sleeves are designed to support weightlifting and rigorous sports activities. These types are made from materials more advanced than the usual neoprene. There are also lightweight knee sleeves for less physically demanding sports.
Why Do You Need Knee Sleeves?
- Knee sleeves increase blood flow before and after exercise. The compression element in knee sleeves facilitates the flow of blood through your knee blood vessels. Proper blood flow and compression translate to faster recovery. Use of knee sleeves can prevent or reduce swelling and pain.
- Knee sleeves support the joint by limiting patella movement. The patella, otherwise known as the kneecap, is a piece of triangular bone that protects your knee joint. Tight yet comfortable knee sleeves will serve another layer of protection to keep both the patella and the knee joint in place, no matter how rigorous the activity.
- Knee sleeves add warmth to your joints. They retain heat for a period of time. When warmth is added to your joint area during an exercise regimen, you feel more comfortable due to better joint lubrication. Your joints will not feel strained and overused.
When Should You Wear Knee Sleeves?
Knee sleeves are meant for intense workout sessions and heavy sports activities, but you don’t need to wear them all the time.
Knee sleeves can offer valuable protection when you are lifting weights, squatting, jumping, running or performing any activity that makes full use of your knee. You can perform safely and avoid soreness afterward. You can also perform longer because soreness is reduced.
Beginners are often reluctant to wear knee sleeves. But experienced athletes know just how beneficial knee sleeves are. They know that they can suffer pain and soreness every time they up their game. They know it can be harder for them to make progress without knee sleeves. New athletes have yet to understand this reality.
What Are the Disadvantages of Wearing Knee Sleeves?
Knee sleeves are no substitute for the right training methods and strategies. They can never compensate for poor technique.
In some cases, combining knee sleeves with poor technique can actually increase your risk of pain or injury.
You also have to pay careful attention to the way you wear knee sleeves. And the fit must be right. You will know when something is amiss if your joints feel uncomfortable. Adjust the knee sleeve immediately to a position you are comfortable with.
Ensure that your kneecaps have enough breathing room. You should not feel like you are wearing a tourniquet.
The bottom line: It’s not an either/or situation. You need BOTH a well fitting knee sleeve worn correctly AND proper technique. Combine the two for long-term efficiency and better muscle and joint strength.
What Type of Knee Sleeves Should I Buy?
Ah, the big question!
There is a great deal of individual variation. What is s comfortable and right for one person isn’t for another. So keep your options open and explore them thoroughly.
An important consideration is differing levels of compression.
You’ll need to create a shortlist based on your requirements and then experiment. Here is a list of top-rated knee sleeves you might want to consider for your lifting and squatting sessions.
1. Bear KompleX Knee Sleeves
The product is designed to ease the pain and provide ease and comfort for athletes and athletic individuals with a heavy workout regimen.
- Provides the perfect support and compression for intense exercises and sports such as running, jumping, squats, powerlifting, wrestling and more.
- Increase blood flow and minimize pain so that your knees stay warm and less strained, even as you perform a grueling workout routine.
- There are several colors and sizes to choose from for both males and females.
The 7mm Bear KompleX knee sleeves are a snug fit and comfortable, offer full protection and just the right amount of compression.
- Made from a quality neoprene material, the sleeves are long lasting.
- There is a discount for large orders
- Not enough bigger sizes available.
- Buyers have to be sure of their size so that the material does not tear up.
- The product can be hard to put on at times.
- The logo fades over time.
2. Rehband 7mm Knee Sleeves
Rehband knee sleeves are meant for serious athletes. These sleeves are characterized by a distinctive look. They have been designed to provide maximum joint protection as well as increase athletic performance.
- The product is durable, effective in preventing injury and facilitates recovery and rehabilitation.
- It heightens your performance while keeping your knees protected throughout the duration of your workout or sporting activity.
- It has the right amount of support and stability with its snug anatomical shape.
* A top-selling product in royal blue popular with athletes. Approved for competition by the International Powerlifting Federation (IPF) and the the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF)
- The product is sold individually and not as a pair.
- There are no other color options to choose from.
- The anatomical shape may not match the comfort requirement that some individuals are looking for.
- Limited availability (no longer offered by Rehband).
3. 110 Percent Play Harder Blitz Knee Single Compression Sleeve (plus ICE for Knees).
This unique product balances compression with moisture. It is one of the most advanced knee sleeves available in the market. W wearing the Blitz Knee Compression Sleeves is like having an ice bath and a warm compress at the same time.
- This pair of knee sleeves is made from polypropylene (70 percent) and spandex (30 percent), providing the right fit and maximum comfort.
- The fabric has antimicrobial silver tech properties that prevent rashes and other sweat-induced skin maladies.
- The product has a built-in thermal bag with pockets for reusable ice inserts to prevent swelling and inflammation and speed up recovery.
- The knee sleeves offer superior moisture wicking, greatly reducing joint and muscle pain incurred through an intense exercise session.
- The Blitz Compression Sleeves provides joint stability and minimal muscle vibrations and can be worn while performing.
- This product may not be ideal for certain activities like running or jogging.
- Expensive. Sold individually and not as a pair. Blitz Compression knee sleeves function more like braces and ares not ideal for serious athletes.
If your exercise focus is on lifting or running then your ideal product would be a pair of Rehband knee sleeves.
The anatomical shape, and its durability, will increase your performance and equip you with the right amount of knee and muscle support. The only downside is lack of color options.
If you prefer more color options and are unwilling to spend a lot of money, buy Komplex knee sleeves. But you have to be sure of your size. The wrong size could result in the neoprene material tearing.
The Blitz Compression sleeves may be on the pricey side. But if you have moderate athletic inclinations, this can be a good choice. If you want to feel pampered with an icy bath during an activity, these sleeves are good for you. And if you are suffering from a pre-existing knee joint or muscle injury but would still like to perform some light exercise, you can benefit from wearing Blitz Compression knee sleeves.
About The Author
This is a guest post by Paul Vandyken, a personal trainer and nutrition coach. He’s the creator of RigorFitness where you can find tips and tricks on fitness, nutrition, and living a healthy lifestyle.