Anyone who lifts weights, runs, or plays sports understands the importance of protecting the knees from potential damage.
Despite this understanding, knee injuries remain common among athletes and sports enthusiasts of all skill levels.
Studies show that wearing compression knee sleeves can not only help prevent injury, but they can also help alleviate the pain associated with arthritis, chronic knee pain, and torn cartilage.
In this post, we’ll review the best compression knee sleeves currently on the market.
But before we do that, we’ll explore the benefits of using knee sleeves, the different kinds of sleeves are available, and what features to consider when shopping for this specific type of knee support.
Why Use Compression Knee Sleeves?
Compression knee sleeves help distribute your body weight more evenly across the knee joints in order to protect against injury.
These types of knee supports are particularly useful for weightlifters, powerlifters, runners, and anyone else who wants to avoid damaging the knee when performing strenuous activities.
Knee sleeves have also been found to significantly reduce discomfort in those suffering from osteoarthritis of the knee.
It is thought that by keeping the joint warm, compression sleeves help ward off pain, stiffness, and functional impairment of the knee.
Compression Sleeves vs Hinged Knee Braces
When shopping for compression knee sleeves, it’s important to understand how they differ from hinged knee braces and other types of knee supports that are designed to protect an already injured knee from further damage.
Unlike knee braces, compression knee sleeves typically only provide mild to moderate stabilization.
Since they allow for natural movement of the knee, compression sleeves are ideal for those who wish to continue training, playing sports, and performing everyday tasks.
Knee braces, on the other hand, are intended to immobilize the knee in order to speed healing from serious injuries like ACL, MCL, and PCL tears.
Braces are also used post-surgery to prevent hyperextension of the knee, which can cause further injury.
Since these types of knee supports do not provide the same facility of movement as compression sleeves, they are not ideal for use while performing vigorous exercise.
Types of Compression Knee Sleeves
There are three main types of compression knee sleeves: closed-patella compression sleeves, open-patella compression sleeves, and cushioned compression sleeves.
Below is a more detailed description of each type of compression knee sleeve.
Closed-Patella Compression Sleeve
This type of compression knee sleeve covers the entire knee.
Closed-patella compression knee sleeves retain more heat and provide a higher degree of compression than other types of sleeves.
Open-Patella Compression Sleeve
As its name suggests, this type of sleeve has a gap at the front that leaves the patella exposed.
While this type of sleeve offers slightly less compression than a closed-patella sleeve, it provides greater support for the kneecap and allows for better airflow.
Related: Best patella knee supports
Cushioned Compression Sleeve
This type of sleeve has built-in cushioning that offers extra protection against shocks.
Cushioned compression sleeves are ideal for those who engage in contact sports like football.
What to Look for When Buying Compression Knee Sleeves
Compression knee sleeves come in a wide range of sizes, colours, styles and materials.
While the right sleeve for you will depend largely on personal preference, there are a few basic things you should be looking for when purchasing this type of knee support.
Here are the most important considerations to keep in mind while you browse the different compression knee sleeves that are available.
Each manufacturer has its own sizing guide, so it’s important to precisely measure your knee before making a purchase.
To determine your knee size, measure the circumference of your thigh at around 5 inches above the centre of the patella.
If your knee measurement falls between sizes according to the manufacturer’s chart, select the next size up or down depending on your desired comfort level and the amount of compression you’re seeking.
Compression sleeves are made from a variety of materials, including cloth, neoprene, and bamboo fibre.
The material you choose will determine the comfort, durability, and breathability of the sleeve.
Generally speaking, sleeves made from cloth provide more heat retention, while sleeves made from neoprene offer the highest degree of compression.
If you’re concerned about odours, bamboo fibre is likely your best bet, as it has anti-microbial properties.
When exercising or engaging in sports, it’s important that the knee sleeve stays in place.
Choose a sleeve with silicone grips to prevent slipping or rolling.
Generally speaking, the most expensive knee sleeves tend to offer the best comfort, compression, and protection. This is not a hard rule, however.
If you only need mild protection and compression, a less expensive product may work just fine.
Be sure to read customer reviews before making a final decision.
The 7 Best Compression Knee Sleeves
In this section, we’ll review the top compression knee sleeves currently available on the market.
These selections are based on several criteria, including durability, comfort, price, and overall customer satisfaction.
1. Nordic Lifting Knee Sleeves
Nordic Lifting Knee Sleeves are constructed from 7-millimetre-thick neoprene, which offers superior support while allowing for natural bending of the knees.
Ideal for novice and professional lifters alike, these durable knee sleeves help stabilize the patella to prevent injury when lifting heavy.
Double stitching adds to the strength of the knee sleeves, while two velcro stabilizing straps allow you to customize the fit for optimal compression.
The sleeves are available in six sizes, ranging from extra small to double extra large.
These sleeves provide the compression, stability, and protection you need to squat deeper and push through those heavy sets.
Their neoprene construction, however, means that these sleeves don’t have the moisture-wicking capability of some of the other products on our list.
Since they tend to trap sweat, these sleeves need to be washed frequently in order to prevent odours.
Another minor drawback of these sleeves is their lack of versatility. While they work great for lifting, they tend to slip when performing strenuous activities like running.
Overall, though, these sleeves are excellent training aids for anyone who needs extra knee support when squatting or lunging.
Pros: Made from 100 per cent neoprene, stabilizing straps for added protection, available in six sizes, backed by a 1-year warranty
Cons: May slip during strenuous activities like running, need to be washed often to prevent odours
2. ProFitness Bamboo Fabric Knee Sleeves
What’s great about ProFitness Bamboo Fabric Knee Sleeves is their versatility.
Not only do these sleeves provide superior support when lifting and running, but they can also aid in the management of arthritic pain, joint pain, and post-surgery recovery.
ProFitness Fabric Knee Sleeves are made from bamboo fibre, which is known for its naturally anti-microbial properties.
In terms of price, the ProFitness Bamboo Fabric Knee Sleeves are among the most budget-friendly on our list.
Some customers have reported that the sizing of these sleeves tends to run small, so be sure to refer to the manufacturer’s measurements before purchasing these sleeves.
Another complaint from some customers is that the sleeves tend to roll.
That said, the manufacturer has a relatively hassle-free return policy, so you can always try the ProFitness Fabric Knee Sleeves out for a while before deciding if they are right for you.
Pros: Inexpensive, ergonomic design, made from bamboo fibres, available in three colours
Cons: Sizing runs small, some customers have said they tend to roll
3. UFlex Athletics Knee Compression Sleeve Support
UFlex Athletics Knee Compression Sleeve Supports are an excellent choice for anyone looking for a knee support that can be worn not only during exercise, but also throughout their workout recovery.
They are made from non-slip silicone and feature three-dimensional knitting that stretches four ways to provide superior compression when running, lifting, or playing sports.
What we love most about UFlex Athletics Knee Compression Sleeve Supports is their thin construction, which allows the supports to be discreetly worn under clothing.
We also like the insulating effect of these sleeves, which helps ease muscle soreness and speed post-workout recovery.
The sleeves are only available in three sizes, however, so they may not be suitable for those with very slim or large legs.
Pros: Ideal for athletes of all levels, three-dimensional knitting, suitable for everyday use, thin enough to be worn under clothing
Cons: Only available in three sizes
4. Tech Ware Pro Knee Compression Sleeve
The TechWare Pro Knee Compression Sleeve features two built-in spring stabilizers as well as a built-in gel pad to ensure maximum protection of the patella during strenuous activities like running, playing tennis, or engaging in extreme sports.
The sleeve is made from a breathable, moisture-wicking material and offers bidirectional compression for optimal support.
The TechWare Pro Knee Compression Sleeve is available in five sizes, with the largest size being able to accommodate a thigh circumference of 23 inches.
The TechWare Pro Knee Compression Sleeve provides a high level of compression, which makes it ideal for use post surgery or when treating meniscus tears, bursitis, and tendonitis.
It can be uncomfortable to wear for longe periods of time as it can feel a little too constrictive, however, so if you’re looking for a knee compression sleeve to wear all day, this compression sleeve may not be the right choice for you.
Another minor niggle is that the sleeve is not sold as a pair, although this is somewhat compensated for with the products relatively low price tag.
Pros: Inexpensive, made from breathable, moisture-wicking material, features built-in gel patella pad, provides bidirectional compression
Cons: Not ideal for overnight use, not sold in pairs, tends to run large
5. PowerLix Compression Knee Sleeve
The PowerLix Compression Knee Sleeve is made from a breathable, knitted fabric that stretches four ways to provide 360-degree compression of the knee joint.
Not only is it suitable for just about any type of sport, but it also offers relief from a wide variety of ailments, including arthritis, meniscus tear, tendonitis, ACL tears, PCL tears, and MCL tears.
This sleeve boasts an attractive design and features silicone gel strips that prevent slipping and bunching up during even the most vigorous activities.
The PowerLix Compression Knee Sleeve also does a great job of wicking away sweat to prevent odour-causing bacteria from forming.
The PowerLix Compression Knee Sleeve is available in five sizes ranging from small to double extra large.
Particular attention needs to be paid to choosing the proper size, however, as some customers have reported that this sleeve tends to run small.
Pros: Inexpensive, suitable for all types of sports, anti-slip design, provides 360-degree protection, absorbs sweat and repels odours
Cons: Sizing runs small
6. Compression Knee Sleeve with Strap
A common complaint with knee sleeves is that they tend to slip, roll, or bunch up.
This knee sleeve has adjustable straps that not only prevent the sleeve from slipping, but also allows users to customize their level of compression.
Suitable for men and women, this Compression Knee Sleeve can be worn while jogging, playing sports, or recovering from ligament tears.
A lot of users have found that these sleeves do provide the support they are looking for.
Some may find that the velcro straps aren’t long enough to reach comfortably around the back of the knees.
However, given how low-priced these sleeves are it may be worth a punt to see if they work for you.
Pros: Low price, adjustable strap for extra compression, made from breathable fabric
Cons: Velcro straps may not be long enough for bigger legs, if velcro is not placed exactly where it should be it can pull at the fabric
7. Lightweight Knee Compression Sleeves
TOFLY Lightweight Knee Compression Sleeves feature a unique bamboo charcoal pressure ring that ensures maximum stabilization and protection of the patella.
They are made from a super-stretchy nylon-lycra blend, making these sleeves ideal for dancers, yoga enthusiasts, and weightlifters.
Like the PowerLix Compression Knee sleeve and the UFlex Athletics Knee Compression Sleeve Support, the TOFLY Lightweight Knee Compression Sleeves feature a four-way stretch design for all-around compression.
They need to be washed by hand, which some users may find annoying, but they are cheap enough that you can stock up on a few pairs to reduce the time you spend cleaning them.
Pros: Features a bamboo charcoal fibre pressure ring, sold in pairs, made from medical-grade nylon and lycra
Cons: Needs to be washed by hand
Best Knee Compressions Sleeve Recommendation
The PowerLix Compression Knee Sleeve has it all: a sleek design, moisture wicking technology, four-way compression, and anti-slip grips.
Our only complaint about this sleeve is that it isn’t sold as a pair, but this is mostly made up for with its low price tag.
Whether you’re a runner, weightlifter, CrossFit enthusiast, hiker, tennis player, or basketball player, the PowerLix Compression Knee Sleeve will provide you with the support and protection you need to perform at your highest level.
If you frequently engage in activities that place excess pressure on the knees, you should consider wearing compression knee sleeves to protect against injury and minimize potential damage due to torn cartilage.
We hope this buyer’s guide will help you understand the different types of compression knee sleeves that are available and steer you toward the best product for your specific needs.