If there’s one problem you don’t want when doing any type of physical activity… that’d be knee problems.
Millions of people worldwide suffer from some sort of knee pain or injury with the most common disease affecting the knees being osteoporosis. But, injuries related to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) are also very common along with other knee-related injuries. (1)
Now, most people who suffer from knee pain/injury are usually helpless and this serious problem is responsible for ruining training progress and many careers.
So, often times surgery, cortisone shots, and even supplementation is implemented to eliminate the pain. But in an ideal world, we could prevent having to resort to these less desirable options through the use of preventative measures like… knee sleeves, training with proper form and/or and not being too hard on your knee joints during physical activity.
Knee sleeves compress and protect the knee joint while preventing damage and inflammation by increasing blood flow to the area, stabilizing the knee joint for optimal movement, and providing comfort during your activities.
So… we’ve picked some pretty awesome options so you can choose a knee sleeve based on your goals, activities, and budget, of course…
But, let’s quickly go over the benefits.
Knee Sleeve Benefits:
- Injury prevention
- Blood flow increase
Now, there are many reasons for wearing knee sleeves which have been discussed and these include weightlifting of any kind, sports, running, recreational activity, and even daily knee support.
But, studies have shown knee sleeves to actually be beneficial for those with osteoarthritis and injured knees with the possibility of improved proprioception (Awareness of movement of the body). However, knee sleeves aren’t just for adults as they are very beneficial to youth and people of all ages. (2, 3, 4, 5)
So, the benefits of knee sleeves do go beyond sports performance.
Stability is important for training and will undoubtedly improve your lifts. Your knees should be aligned and supported so that you can effectively lift with proper form and prevent injuries because of poor bodily movements during training or regular activity. (6, 7)
Adequate compression will ensure blood flow to the muscles. This reduces and prevents injuries plus it provides stability and keeps the area warm which ensures fluidity in the knee joints. (8)
Lastly, comfort is important because it allows you to perform at your best with an optimal range of motion during any activity.
Alright, let’s get into our top 6 knee sleeve picks for 2021…
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Best Daily Knee Support – Mava Sports Knee Support Sleeves
If you’re the active type or just need some extra knee support… then you need a sleeve that can stand up against anything.
And that’s exactly what the Mava Sports knee sleeve is. A sleeve that will be comfortable and functional from the time you put them on until taking them off after your daily activities.
Now, since these are constructed of nylon and spandex, they are not going to provide the same extent of support as a neoprene sleeve. However, they are very comfortable and thin enough to keep the knee joints warm which helps to reduce achiness and pain while improving performance.
Best for Running/Sports – UFlex Athletics Knee Compression Sleeve
Whether you like to run, shoot hoops, ski, or dash down the football field… UFlex Athletics compression sleeve is an excellent choice for knee protection devices.
The sleeve is made with double anti-slip silicone so you can ensure it stays wrapped on your knee throughout your active sessions, so you can avoid the annoying readjusting like with many other sleeves.
And the material is stitched together with 3D technology for a highly durable sleeve and the company prides itself on making a product to the highest of standards.
Now, this sleeve is best for activities that don’t require heavy weight training since it is made from polymers like nylon, silicone, and spandex. But, it’s perfect for endurance activities and light training sessions.
Note: You only get one sleeve per order so you’ll have to purchase two for double knee support.
Price: $15 for one sleeve
Best for the Money – HVSKY Fitness Knee Sleeves w/Gym Bag
Cheap and amazing quality?… no, you’re not dreaming. Such a thing does exist and for the price, there isn’t really anything that can compete with this knee sleeve.
HVSKY sleeves are made from 100% neoprene which means they will stand up strong to anything you can put them through and they’re 7mm thick and are designed for the heaviest of training. And the reinforced stitching ensures premium quality and the contoured fit prevents bunching and rolling up.
Plus, the sleeves were made and endorsed by athletes and you can’t beat the awesome free gym bag that comes with the product.
Best for All-Around Gym Performance – Gymreapers Knee Sleeves
Besides the badass logo, you’ll really love the fit and function of Gymreapers knee sleeves.
The lightweight and comfortable neoprene material provides ample support during your activity of choice whether powerlifting, CrossFit, bodybuilding and you name it. They’re also approved in all sanctioned USPA competitions which says a lot.
The brand was built by athletes for athletes and used by high-level individuals. So we have confidence that the design will suit any active individual looking to improve their performance.
They also include a reinforced gym bag to tote your gear around and a few different color sleeves to choose from!
Price: $49.99 for one pair
Best for Powerlifting/Weightlifting – Nordic Lifting Knee Sleeves
You need sufficient support during the heaviest of any weight training activity and Nordic hit this one out of the park. The quality is second to none and the customer service is outstanding.
The sleeves are made from neoprene and they’re 7mm thick with reinforced stitching so it doesn’t get any better for extreme training support and stabilization.
Plus they offer a one-year hassle-free warranty for guaranteed replacements if you have any issues!
Best for Versatility – Rehband 7mm Knee Sleeve – Model 7051
If you’re a jack of all trades type of person then the Rehband 7mm sleeve model 7051 will serve its purpose very well to help you perform at your best regardless of the activity in front of you. It’s IPF (International Powerlifting Federation) approved, and IWF (International Weightlifting Federation) approved which means it’s pretty hardcore…
Any type of athlete from Strongman competitors, to powerlifters, and CrossFitters can benefit from using this super, high-quality sleeve as it will support the most elite of performances.
But what’s amazing about the 7051 model is that it’s a patented design which is the company’s top best selling knee sleeve of all time.
You won’t get anything but quality with this beastly knee sleeve!
Note: You only get one sleeve per order so you’ll have to purchase two for double knee support.
Knee Sleeve Criteria
We based our choices on a combination of several factors which are important when shopping for a pair of functional knee sleeves.
Quality always matters because you want knee sleeves that are going to be durable and still keep their shape regardless of your chosen activity. Slipping and sliding is not acceptable but sometimes products vary as the process of production isn’t always perfect.
However, we chose sleeves with the overall best build quality and consistency in manufacturing.
Many low-quality sleeves fall apart, rip and even cause an allergic reaction so this is something to be careful of. And we ensured there was a less likely chance for these occurrences with our top sleeve picks.
If several customers have complained about a certain product (Especially the same features), then this is a sign you might want to rethink that option. But again, there’s no perfect company and manufacturing isn’t always either.
Lemons (Bad products) are an unfortunate part of manufacturing but the chances are very low with quality brands, products, and companies.
But good customer service is very important as any issues need to be addressed appropriately.
If a knee sleeve doesn’t adequately support your physical efforts then it has no purpose. But, good quality products should provide the utmost optimal knee support and compression so you don’t have to worry about injuries or swelling.
Comfort is important for optimal performance. So, if you can wear a knee sleeve all day and go unaffected then this is a winner… we’ve selected the most comfortable options and most users would agree.
But, it’s important to choose a sleeve based on your activities. For instance, if you squat or deadlift you need a thick and strong 7mm sleeve but it needs to be flexible enough so you can perform your exercises with a full range of motion.
If you’re a runner, you’ll want something that will compress your knee joint but still allow for a lot of motion and flexibility.
We certainly don’t want you to spend an arm and a leg for a product that won’t give you your money’s worth. So, all the chosen products are affordable from a very budget-friendly option to a few slightly higher priced options which are still very reasonable.
Knee Sleeve Material
Neoprene, which is a form of synthetic rubber, is the most common material used for knee sleeves. This material is durable, rigid, and flexible in wide ranges of temperatures, so it’s an ideal knee sleeve material for heavy training of any type.
But second to neoprene are polymers like spandex, silicone, and nylon which are more stretchable and flexible than neoprene. But these fabrics are not as strong as neoprene so they are best used for endurance and lighter training activities.
Then, you also have cotton which won’t be as stretchable but it does have its uses and can be durable.
Thickness Options: 3mm, 5mm, or 7mm
The thickness of the knee sleeves do matter and you should choose them based on your activities, training preferences, and goals. If you’re the type to go long distances then the 3mm will be your best bet.
Now, if you need something with support that can support lighter training and endurance-type activities, then choose the 5mm.
Then, for more intense and heavy training activities, you’ll most definitely need the 7mm sleeves.
But, one thing to note is that if you’re on the heavier side, then go with a thicker size as this will provide the most support possible.
Here are the three sizes and their best uses:
3mm: Endurance activities (Long distance runners, triathletes etc.)
5mm: Versatility and basic support (General sports, calisthenics, light lifting etc.)
7mm: Maximum support and stabilization (Weightlifting, Powerlifting, CrossFit etc.)
There you have it… a handful of excellent knee sleeve options for all of your activities. There’s a low budget option, a mid-range option, and a slightly higher priced but very affordable option.
These sleeves are really the only options you need to choose from based on their great features and quality.
Just be mindful of the sizing before purchasing so you can measure correctly based on the instructions provided. But you also want to choose the right material so that you can have the best support for whatever activities you choose to do regularly…