The use of knee sleeves can be incredibly beneficial to individuals that suffer from knee pain, providing them with support and improved mobility. Users can improve their recovery after an injury or particularly intense workout with the right knee sleeve. However, the benefits don’t stop there. A sleeve helps with blood flow, pain management, mobility, and physical activity.
With all of the different brands of knee sleeves on the market today, finding the right one is tricky. Among all low-quality remedies are proven brands with a high performance and comfort record. To choose the top products on the market, look below at the rankings.
The Top Knee Sleeves of 2021
After rigorous testing and reviewing customers’ opinions online, this is the list of the top knee sleeves on the market today.
- Exo Sleeve
- TheraICE Rx Compression Sleeve
- Caresole Circa Knee Compression Sleeve
- PentagonFit Knee Sleeve
- KneeWrap Pro
- Knee Force
- Knee Hero
- Knee Relief Patches
- Smart Knee Pad
- Kompress Kinetic Socks
- Soul Insole
- Feel Good Knees
Read on below to learn a little more information about the different brands.
One of the most popular brands on the market today is Exo Sleeve, offering high-quality knee sleeves that meet multiple needs. The brand’s success with this particular garment has allowed them to launch several others, including belts, resistance bands, and sandbags (among other workout equipment).
Users choose from three sizes for the sleeves – light, 5mm, and 7mm. Individuals that engage in powerlifting or CrossFit may ant the 5mm or 7mm sleeves. The Light sleeve is only about 3mm thick, providing the user with the range of motion they need without losing support. Users can also choose from a few colors and designs, starting at $29.
TheraICE Rx Compression Sleeve
The TheraICE Rx Compression Sleeve helps users relieve their joint pain within just a few minutes. It already has multiple 5-star reviews, primarily due to the triple-sided approach to pain management – heating, cooling, and compression. By using this sleeve, consumers can return to the activities they enjoy without discomfort.
Users start with putting the sleeve in the microwave or freezer to get these effects. The gel inside of the sleeve holds onto the temperature surrounding it, allowing users to slip it on for 15 minutes to get relief. It is large enough to fit an elbow or knee and is reusable.
So far, the company has already made $1 million in sales, and its reputation among consumers has secured its place as a top sleeve for pain relief. The total cost for one of these sleeves is $34.99.
Caresole Circa Knee Compression Sleeve
The Caresole Circa Knee Compression Sleeve keeps the joints warm for better flexibility and reduced inflammation. Though many other products on this list focus on the benefits they offer bodybuilders, this particular sleeve’s ability to lubricate the joints and reduce injury is meant for everyday wear.
Made with neoprene material, users get a contoured fit as they wear the Caresole Circa Knee Compression Sleeve. This type of fit ensures that the sleeve doesn’t slide around, but it still offers impressive comfort for the user as they move. Other products might be thicker, but the company claims to provide better agility with this garment.
This knee sleeve is made to support men and women for everyday use, making activities like walking and other movements easy. For one sleeve, the total cost is $42.
PentagonFit Knee Sleeve
The PentagonFit Knee Sleeve supports the knee joint instantly to improve stability and offer protection against injury. Made with medical-grade materials, users should wear this garment daily to eliminate pain, promote recovery, and get all of the benefits that it has to offer.
On the official website, the creators highlight the many ways that knee braces can inherently benefit the body. It promotes better blood circulation and increases the joint’s stability. It even reduces pain and reduces the risk of injury with daily wear. Consumers with arthritis, muscle sprains, tendonitis, tears in the ligaments, and other issues can alleviate their pain without restricting mobility. With a money-back guarantee, the total cost of this sleeve is $39.95.
VitaKnee focuses on delivering ergonomic knee support, though users may not recognize the name. The brand hasn’t been around for that long, but the performance speaks for itself. It manages to offer a low-priced sleeve with an effective structure, ensuring that anyone can get a sleeve for their personal use. It provides support for the joint while protecting and strengthening it.
With many positive reviews and a 30-day money-back guarantee for full transparency, the total cost of VitaKnee is $39.99.
KneeWrap Pro is relatively lightweight, but it still offers compression garments relief. This bandage is safe to wash with the rest of the user’s laundry, and customers can use it repeatedly to give support and comfort. Due to the anti-perspiration benefits, the KneeWrap Pro works well for athletic and non-athletic purposes.
The cost of the KneeWrap is relatively low at $39 already, but consumers that invest in multiple wraps at once can get a more significant discount on their order. Thanks to the value-quality fabric, the price can go down to as little as $20 each.
The Compressa Knee Sleeve is one of the top choices among consumers right now, which is why it sells so well and is known by so many. It works as both a brace and compression sleeve, helping users improve their circulation, reduce recovery time, protect the knee, and loosen stiff muscles. This sleeve can still help individuals while running without constricting their movements with as much rigid support as it offers.
Surprisingly, this knee sleeve also has enough support to help consumers who lift weights, engage in athletic activities, or play any sport at all. Though it is a little more expensive than the sleeves that precede it on this list, users will get three garments per package (rather than one or two). Users spend a little extra, for now, to get more of the product for $59.99.
Knee Force zones in on pain relief for users, promoting better strength and comfort at the joint. Using breathable mesh, the sleeve is relatively comfortable for individuals who need to move around without getting too warm. Plus, it features a green and black color scheme to go a little off of the traditional nude color that many sleeves have.
So far, this sleeve has gotten hundreds of 5-star reviews. The total cost of each sleeve is $39.98, though users can save on their purchase with the 50% discount code.
Knee Hero offers support to the knee joint, kneecap, meniscus, and ligaments whenever it is worn. The non-slip yet breathable material is comfortable enough to wear daily, but some users choose only to wear it when they work out to promote better recovery.
Unlike some of the other options on this list, consumers choose from three sizes – medium, large, and XL. All purchases come with up to a 2-year warranty (for an added fee), and each unit costs $65.
Knee Relief Patches
The Knee Relief Patches aren’t a sleeve. Instead, they are a patch that works for up to 24 hours, delivering nourishing ingredients through the skin to help with joint pain. Based on traditional Chinese medicine, the creators emphasize alleviating the discomfort associated with arthritis or meniscus injuries.
With typical knee sleeves, the user wraps up their knee within a snugly fit fabric, which may feel constricting to users that ordinarily wear nothing around this joint. However, the use of the patch delivers ingredients that are known to improve the recovery process, and users can combine them with the help of a compression sleeve.
A box of 12 single-use patches costs $39.75.
Smart Knee Pad
The Smart Knee Pad provides users with smart technology, treating the discomfort with three temperature levels. Rather than being made of neoprene or nylon, the pad is made from graphene to manage the temperature.
While most of the other products are used to deal with the issues along with the knee specifically, the Smart Knee Pad can also safely be used to alleviate discomfort at the elbow or calf. However, it is a small price to pay to get customized temperature therapy for any soreness. Users will have to pay a little more at $79.95 per unit with the smart technology.
Kompress Kinetic Socks
Kompress Kinetic Socks don’t need to touch the knee to relieve knee pain. These socks provide excellent foot support, dealing with the source’s leading cause of knee pain. Chronic pain is challenging to handle but having the right balance and support while walking can take tons of pressure off the knees.
Using patented technology, users benefit from focal compression to alleviate pain in the ankles and feet. The socks use straps to secure and support the ankle to reduce the risk of injury. Since there is no direct pressure on the knee, users can pair the socks with a knee sleeve from this list if additional support is necessary. The total cost of the Kompress Kinetic Socks is $24.99.
Soul Insole is another remedy that focuses on the proper alignment and support for the foot to take the pressure off of other joints, including the knees and back. It provides support for the arch of the foot, making it easier to handle the impact of each step. The powerful relief is helpful to individuals who suffer from plantar fasciitis, but it can also help with general pain relief. The total cost of this support garment is $29.99.
Feel Good Knees
Feel Good Knees, the final product on this list isn’t a knee sleeve. It isn’t even a garment. Instead, it is a therapeutic program that treats knee pain with multiple instructional videos and PDF e-books (but the company also offers physical copies).
Written by Todd Kuslikis, MPA, many of the methods described come from holistic practices worldwide to improve healing. The creators explain that using a topical formula or a knee sleeve isn’t always enough for the user to get pain relief, but the techniques in the guide can be highly beneficial. The total cost of this treatment guide is $15.
Determining the Rankings of the Top Knee Sleeves
Every knee sleeve on the market today focuses on supporting the user’s needs, but that doesn’t mean they do the work. The following criteria were considered when determining these rankings:
The sleeves available today offer different materials and different benefits. While some sleeves use an elastic material, others use neoprene. These materials provide different levels of support, ranging from intense bodybuilding support to storing energy.
Knee sleeves don’t come as a one-size-fits-all solution. Instead, users can choose the thickness they prefer to meet their individual needs. Products with several options had a greater priority over others on the market.
Fit and Comfort
When wearing a knee sleeve, users should make sure that it fits them snugly. Having a loose or baggy sleeve won’t provide any support, but too tight a fit may hurt the user’s circulation.
Support from Medical Professionals
Some of the products on this list were designed by chiropractors, medical doctors, and physical therapists. Others had a team of advertisers create it, which isn’t reliable.
Benefits Advertised by the Company
Companies looking to make quick money will promise almost anything to customers to entice them, but all of these claims are not true. There’s only so much that a knee sleeve can do – it isn’t a miracle product, and it won’t magically eliminate knee pain within minutes. This guide did not prioritize companies with unrealistic benefits.
The Reputation of the Manufacturer
Some companies on this list have been around a while, giving them plenty of time to prove themselves. Others only showed up as knee sleeves became popular, leading them to put out low-quality products that can’t get the job done. This guide preferred companies with a proven track record of reliability and performance.
Value vs. Cost
While some people want to save money when they can, others are willing to spend hundreds of dollars. The total cost of the knee sleeves wasn’t the deterring factor, but the price had to be supported with equivalent benefits.
Though companies do their best to serve a broad range of customers, that is not always the case. The use of a money-back guarantee shows transparency and ensures that consumers don’t lose out on their investments.
What Do Knee Sleeves Do?
Regardless of age, knee issues tend to be the most common concern for people who experience some type of discomfort. Aging and any current joint problems play a role, though the culprit may also be gout, arthritis, or other medical conditions. The use of a knee sleeve can help.
These garments typically offer some kind of compression material, giving support to the knee joint for added protection against injury. This protection is beneficial to individuals who engage in different physical activities, like basketball, jogging, or weightlifting.
How Do Knee Sleeves Work?
The use of a knee sleeve is relatively straightforward, but their benefits offer more than just their face value. These sleeves keep the knee’s ligaments and muscles warm to promote better blood flow, which inherently helps with swelling and pain. To reduce the user’s risk of injury, it also reduces how much the kneecap moves.
Overall, the main functions of these types of sleeves include:
- Offering warmth and compression around the joint promotes better blood flow, reducing swelling and discomfort.
- Improves control and stability by supporting the responsiveness of the user and keeping the area stable.
- Limits movement to no more than a defined range to reduce the user’s risk of injury.
- Promotes blood flow to improve the recovery process and reduce pain.
- Alleviating swelling at the knee to help recover after physical activity.
Who Should Use Knee Sleeves?
Using knee sleeves is a matter of personal preference, but anyone can benefit from them. They are often associated with a reprieve from knee pain resulting from aging or physical activity.
Typically, companies target the following audiences with their knee sleeve options.
- People who engage in regular exercise
- Individuals with arthritis and other forms of joint pain
- Anyone who wants to eliminate inflammation during recovery
- CrossFit athletes
- Anyone who wants to promote better mobility and range of motion
- Individuals with pain from arthritis, muscle sprain, tendonitis, ligament tears, and other concerns in their knee joint.
The key takeaway is that anyone stands to benefit from using a high-quality knee sleeve, reducing pain, and improving recovery.
How to Pick the Right Thickness for a Knee Sleeve
The majority of knee sleeves are 7mm thick. However, other options are available to consumers that want to customize their experience. The purpose of using them will determine how thick the sleeve needs to be.
3mm – Improving Agility and Mobility
The thinnest available knee sleeves are 3mm thick, less than half of the largest size. They are relatively lightweight because they aren’t made of neoprene at all. Instead, they often use nylon or spandex in their construction.
Athletes that cross-train or lift weights can get the support they need with a 3mm sleeve. These sleeves are often used by individuals who participate in endurance sports, including running. They are used to improve mobility and increase agility.
5mm – For Medium Strength and Agility
For consumers that want a little bit of control with a bit of support, that’s where the 5mm thickness might benefit them. They offer some support for powerlifting, but they also provide the user with enough movement to get the agility and mobility of the 3mm sleeve.
Weightlifters and similar athletes may not get the support they need with this thickness because it is too light for their activities.
7mm – For Normal Strength and Support
Most knee sleeves are easiest to find in a 7mm thickness, giving the most strength and support possible. This thickness is more stable and stiffer than the other thickness options, which is crucial for anyone who uses them during cross-training or to lift weights.
While the purpose of these sleeves is to reduce mobility slightly, they shouldn’t be uncomfortable or prevent the user from moving at all.
Benefits of Knee Sleeves
According to current research, many proven benefits come with wearing a knee sleeve consistently. The use of a knee sleeve can provide the following benefits:
Knee and Patella Support
The patella, better known as the kneecap, doesn’t move as much when the user wears a knee sleeve. It protects the knee joint, but wearing a sleeve gives the body an extra layer of protection for any activity.
Recovery is a big reason that consumers often wear knee sleeves. They help with movement at the joint as they increase blood flow, which provides the oxygen that the body needs to recover that tissue.
Due to knee sleeves’ effect on circulation, some people like to wear them to warm their joints. It is easier to recover after physical activity with this warmth and improved circulation.
Even for individuals that don’t regularly engage in physical activity, using knee sleeves can bring comfort. They are easier on the body than a knee brace, offering more control to the user. On the other hand, a brace is meant to restrict the knee’s independent movement, which isn’t as comfortable as most people want.
Knee Sleeves vs. Knee Wraps vs. Knee Braces: What’s the Difference?
Shopping around for garments that can support the knee is a rather broad search. Most consumers found knee sleeves, knee wraps, and knee braces throughout the investigation. While they all may offer some support, they have different ways to help users.
The user experiences compression with a knee sleeve, which protects the joint with warmth and safety. They are often used in the recovery after a workout to ease inflammation and reduce joint pain. However, customers can also use them during training to pressure the joints.
A knee brace protects the front of the knee and the patella with a protective layer of cushion, supporting the ligaments. Knee braces are most commonly used by people with unstable knees who need to recover after being injured.
Knee wraps are primarily used to boost performance, giving the user an increased ability to improve their weight during squats and other exercises. They are often made with elastic materials, reducing the amount of energy the user has to put out. While research is still being done on the knee sleeve, experts do not recommend using a wrap instead, as it pushes the kneecap into the thigh bone. This close contact causes friction and can be pretty painful.
Top Fabrics for Knee Sleeves
When perusing online for a new knee sleeve, you’ll notice most garments come in neoprene. After all, it is highly comfortable and provides good flexibility. Some companies try to make their neoprene material seem more elevated with phrases like “high performance fabric” or “mesh underlayer,” but the result is the same – neoprene. It’s even the material used in most products on this list due to its popularity and performance.
Next, there’s nylon and spandex. These materials are much more flexible and easier to move in, meaning users won’t get the neoprene’s support. Still, they help individuals that use a knee brace to promote better mobility and agility.
Finally, there are copper-infused sleeves. This type of fabric reduces the buildup of bacteria, inherently reducing the odor that can collect on these absorbent materials. Some people believe that using a copper-infused fabric is suitable for healing, but no research currently supports this claim.
Scientific Research Behind the Use of Knee Sleeves
The use of knee sleeves to reduce the risk of injury is nothing less than controversial. Many researchers claim that knee sleeves can alleviate pain and reduce the risk of discomfort. However, others believe that the placebo effect is at play, and the reduced discomfort is merely the mind convincing itself.
In 2012, researchers examined a knee brace’s effect vs. two types of neoprene knee sleeves had on athletes. While the braces didn’t prevent the athletes from engaging in their respective performances, they also didn’t improve them. There were no significant changes in the athletes’ abilities to engage in single-leg vertical jumps, crossover hops, or knee flexion and extension. However, the researchers still stated that the sleeves help surrounding muscles and joints.
In 2017, researchers decided to examine the current data using knee sleeves, looking at the currently available trials. The majority of the improvements on users were in balance and function for individuals with osteoarthritis, helping with strength and performance.
The most common reason consumers use knee sleeves is to deal with pain, especially regarding osteoarthritis. In 2019, a study showed that using knee sleeves regularly helped individuals reduce pain and promote better walking speed within about six weeks. Movement seemingly improved by 14% within this same period.
To see how elastic knee sleeves perform, researchers tested out the use of these garments in 2015, suggesting that they can reduce the knee adduction angles that impact osteoarthritis. They helped users walk more easily, again pointing to the benefits that knee sleeves offer osteoarthritis.
Apart from the benefits that these sleeves offer to individuals with joint pain, they can also help users perform squats in their exercise routine. A study from 2018 was featured in Human Movement Science Theses & Dissertations about the sleeves’ effects on squat performance. Measuring the performance of healthy weightlifters, the researcher observed the exercises with and without knee braces. Ultimately, these researchers did not see any significant improvement in the participants’ weight with a knee brace. They also didn’t witness any improvements in knee joint loads, muscle activation, or other performance factors, leading them to conclude with a neutral stance on the sleeves.
Ultimately, new studies are still being pursued. Researchers don’t see how knee sleeves can improve the user’s performance, but they also don’t harm the user.
Frequently Asked Questions About Knee Sleeves
Q: What are knee sleeves?
A: A knee sleeve is a garment that goes around and over the knee, providing more excellent stability to the joint. Many people wear them to reduce their risk of injury possibly.
Q: Do consumers need knee sleeves?
A: Not necessarily. This garment is primarily helpful to individuals with knee pain when they put their bodies through too much physical strain. It also helps fitness enthusiasts that regularly include squats in their routine.
Q: What should consumers do to reduce their knee pain?
A: The use of a knee sleeve can help consumers alleviate their pain. Maintaining proper hydration, including a supplement with glucosamine, or taking other therapeutic pain relief solutions can also help.
Q: What are the advantages of knee sleeves?
A: Along with improved mobility and reduced pain, the use of knee sleeves has been directly associated with improved blood flow, compression benefits, and recovery after a workout.
Q: What are the disadvantages of knee sleeves?
A: A knee sleeve is not enough for someone already injured. They won’t offer the support that a knee brace can.
Also, using a knee sleeve won’t improve how much the user can lift. Some people believe that using a knee sleeve is akin to the placebo effect.
Q: Do users need knee sleeves for lifting?
A: Not necessarily. However, many users find that wearing a knee sleeve benefits them when they engage in these workouts.
Q: Should users choose a 5mm or 7mm knee sleeve?
A: The thickness of a knee sleeve will primarily depend on the user’s benefits while they wear them. Using a 5mm knee sleeve helps users get the agility and support they need during a routine or simply walking around. However, the 7mm knee sleeve protects individuals with heavier lifts.
Individuals that want less support but want to take advantage of the agility may find 3mm sleeves at select companies.
Q: Will wearing knee sleeves protect the user from injuries?
A: Not necessarily. The primary purpose of knee sleeves is to improve recovery and provide support. Prevention of injuries is not an advertised benefit.
Q: Can knee sleeves help with osteoarthritis?
A: Some studies suggest that it is possible to help with osteoarthritis with knee sleeves. Researchers have found that individuals who use knee sleeves improve their overall mobility. It also reduces their pain.
Q: Do consumers need knee sleeves for powerlifting?
A: It is a matter of personal preference. Some people like to keep their knee sleeves on when they are powerlifting. Other people find that the use of knee sleeves doesn’t help them.
Q: Are knee sleeves legal in powerlifting competitions?
A: Consult the rules of the particular powerlifting competition. The IFP and the USAPL both allow the knee sleeve to be used if it is less than 7mm thick, made of neoprene, and created by certain companies.
Q: Can users wear knee sleeves at CrossFit events?
A: The knee sleeves must fall within the guidelines issued at the event to wear them, including that the sleeves are made with neoprene. Furthermore, prior approval by CrossFit Inc. is required, and the final say goes to the Head Judge. Any sleeve that supports the user’s grip or weight is not permitted.
Q: How much should users pay for a knee sleeve?
A: High-quality knee sleeves can come at the cost of $70 to $120. However, consumers that want a product that offers a bit more affordability can find them as low as $30.
Q: How should knee sleeves be washed?
A: The easiest way to clean most knee sleeves is by using a washing machine. If the odor caused by sweat is overwhelming, some users find that using white vinegar or boiling the knee sleeves is more beneficial.
Q: What are the most affordable knee sleeves?
A: Some brands that offer knee sleeves under $50 include Knee Force, Knee Hero, VitaKnee, and PentagonFit Knee Sleeve.
Q: What’s the best knee sleeve material?
A: Most knee sleeves come in nylon/spandex, neoprene, and a copper-infused blend. The most common material is neoprene due to the affordability of producing them and their comfortable texture. Users that want more mobility with their sleeves should look for nylon/spandex sleeves. Copper-infused fabric is primarily reserved for individuals who want to fight odor and bacteria.
Q: What’s the best knee sleeve for squats?
A: The top product on this list for individuals who want to do squats is the 5mm or 7mm Exo Sleeves.
Q: What are the best knee sleeves for running?
A: Exo Sleeve offers a 3mm Light option that helps users maintain support while running.
Q: What are the best knee sleeves for women?
A: Women don’t need to have different sleeves than men, which is why Exo Sleeve is an excellent option for both.
Q: What is the correct sleeve size?
A: When putting on a knee sleeve, the fit should be snug and not baggy to provide the necessary support and compression. Most sleeves come in XS, S, M, L, XL, and XXL. If the user chooses a size too tight for their knees, they can heavily restrict circulation and pinch the skin.
Q: What’s the difference between a knee brace and a knee sleeve?
A: Knee sleeves offer compression to the area, supporting the knee. On the other hand, a brace heavily restricts movement at the knee to keep the user from overextending the joint and surrounding muscle.
The Top Knee Sleeves of 2021 Final Word
Using a knee sleeve is one of the easiest ways to change an entire workout, supporting the body through many types of activities. Most people who use a sleeve will continue this habit with every exercise. Unfortunately, every knee sleeve is not as supportive as the next. They offer different benefits – like an improved range of motion and support for the muscles – and the materials they are constructed with are crucial to their performance. Choose one of the sleeves above to get a high-quality and performance product.
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Please understand that any advice or guidelines revealed here are not even remotely a substitute for sound medical advice from a licensed healthcare provider. Make sure to consult with a professional physician before making any purchasing decision if you use medications or have concerns following the review details shared above. Individual results may vary as the statements made regarding these products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The efficacy of these products has not been confirmed by FDA-approved research. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.