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Knee compression sleeves provide extra support around the knee when exercising. Some knee compression sleeves provide overall support to the whole knee area, while others add targeted support to the kneecap.
A quick look at some of the best knee compression sleeves
- Best breathable: CW-X Stabilyx Knee Compression Sleeve
- Best lightweight: Bauerfeind Sports Knee Support
- Best anti-slip: UFlex Athletics Knee Compression Sleeve Support
- Best with multidirectional stretch: Pro-Tec Gel Force Knee Support
- Best odor-free: POWERLIX Knee Compression Sleeve
- Best adjustable: ABYON Adjustable Knee Braces
This article provides information on what to look for in a knee sleeve, when a person should use one, and the effectiveness of these sleeves. It also offers a list of knee sleeve products to consider when looking to buy a knee sleeve.
Knee sleeves provide compression and support for the knee. However, they should not limit movement in any way.
These sleeves can be useful if an individual has experienced a minor injury.
The compression a knee sleeve provides may help lessen swelling by reducing the flow of blood and fluid to the joint. These products also add stability to the joint, which may reduce pain.
Medical News Today chooses fitness equipment that meets the following criteria:
- Price: MNT chooses products available for a wide range of budgets.
- Size and capacity: MNT selects products to suit people of different heights, weights, and strengths.
- Materials: MNT chooses products that have safe and durable materials and fabrics that are easy to clean and maintain.
- Quality: MNT chooses companies that adhere to high quality manufacturing processes that ensure its products are safe for personal use.
- Reputable: MNT chooses products from businesses that adhere to industry best practices.
Here are some knee compression sleeves for a person to consider.
Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.
Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process. Learn more here.
Best breathable: CW-X Stabilyx Knee Compression Sleeve
- List price: from around $32
- Fabric: nylon, Lycra, polyester, and spandex
- Sizes: small, medium, and large
- Colors: black or black and blue
- Additional features: EXO-WEB support panel
This sleeve features an EXO-WEB support panel, which stretches two ways and reportedly provides targeted support. The company also says that the fabric is breathable and wicks away moisture to keep the skin dry. The sleeve’s design features flat seams to prevent chafing.
The support panel consists of nylon and Lycra, while the body is made of polyester and spandex.
Other features include ultraviolet (UV) protection and a machine-washable design.
- suitable for older adults
- protects the skin from UV
- suitable for people with arthritis
- returns within 30 days
- may not remain in place
- potential shipping delays
Best lightweight: Bauerfeind Sports Knee Support
- List price: around $90
- Fabric: elastic knitted fabric
- Sizes: extra small, small, medium, large, extra large, and 2X-large
- Colors: black, pink, or rivera
- Additional features: pressure-absorbing kneecap pad
According to the manufacturer, this product, which is reportedly light and airy to wear, features an elastic knitted fabric that regulates compression.
Bauerfeind claims that it has anatomically shaped the support to help a person move freely. It also has a front pad to absorb pressure.
The manufacturer recommends this product to adults who play sports such as tennis, baseball, soccer, and basketball.
The product has a machine-washable and moisture-wicking fabric, and a 30-day return policy.
- returns within 30 days
- different sizes and colors are available
- stays in place
- may cause blisters
- may increase pain
- the material is not very stretchy
Best anti-slip: UFlex Athletics Knee Compression Sleeve Support
- List price: from around $13
- Fabric: nylon
- Sizes: small, medium, large, and extra-large
- Colors: black, red, blue, and pink
- Additional features: adjustable silicone strap
UFlex Athletics’ design allows the sleeve to offer support for minor knee conditions.
The brand also states that the nylon fabric is breathable, combats odors, and wicks moisture away from the skin. The nylon forms a knitted 3D structure with elastic so that it fits the knees curvature. A person can adjust the fit of the sleeve with its silicone strap.
In addition, it produces a heating effect that the company claims can promote muscle healing.
The company states that the knee compression sleeve has an anti-slip design so it stays in place.
It also extends a 30-day returns policy.
- may best suit people who regularly walk and run
- may not suit people with sensitive skin
Best with multidirectional stretch: Pro-Tec Gel Force Knee Support
- List price: from around $28
- Fabric: nylon
- Sizes: small, medium, large, and extra-large
- Colors: blue
- Additional features: gel to support the kneecap area
It contains a thick oval gel that aims to provide comfort and support to the kneecap.
The product features a nylon fabric design that is reportedly breathable and soft, with a multidirectional stretch.
The company states this stretch applies even compression throughout the knee.
- option to choose from small to extra-large sizing
- a 30-day return policy available
- 6-month warranty
- may slip
- possible inaccurate sizing
Best odor-free: POWERLIX Knee Compression Sleeve
- List price: from around $20
- Fabric: neoprene
- Sizes: small, medium, large, extra large, and 2X-large
- Colors: orange, black, pink, blue, beige, and gray
- Additional features: anti-slip fit and breathable compression fabric to provide joint stability
This knee compression sleeve claims to help reduce knee pain and improve blood circulation. It could also provide support during workouts. It may particularly benefit people with arthritis.
According to the manufacturer, some other features are:
- 3D knitting
- a four-way compression system
- odor-free design
- a 6-month money-back guarantee
- a 6-month money-back guarantee
- suitable for long-distance running
- supports mild sprains
- may slip for some people
Best adjustable: ABYON Adjustable Knee Braces
- Price: from around $17
- Fabric: silicone
- Sizes: S–M, L–XL, 2XL–3XL, and 4XL–5XL
- Colors: black and blue
- Additional features: adjustable taps, suction Velcro, and side stabilizers
ABYON’s knee sleeves come with adjustable elastic Velcro straps to provide an easy and comfortable fit.
They also have spring stabilizers that fit the knee’s curve.
The company recommends the product for people with knee pain or recovering from an injury.
Additionally, the knee braces have ventilation holes, are soft, and are made from a sweat-wicking material.
Other features include:
- a double anti-slip technology
- four-flexible side stabilizers
- adjustable straps
- a strong-hold Velcro
- 30-day return policy
- adjustable design
- stays in place
- relieves throbbing pain
- provides flexibility and comfort
- may be defective
- may look bulky
The following table compares the knee compression sleeves in this article on price, fabric, features, and more.
|List price||Fabric||Sizes||Colors||Additional features|
|CW-X||from around $32||• nylon|
• black and blue
|EXO-WEB support panel|
|Bauerfeind||around $90||elastic knitted||XS–2XL||• black|
|pressure-absorbing kneecap pad|
|UFlex||from around $13||nylon||S–XL||• black|
|adjustable silicone strap|
|Pro-Tec||from around $28||nylon||S–XL||blue||gel to support the kneecap area|
|POWERLIX||from around $20||neoprene||S-2XL||• orange|
|anti-slip fit and breathable compression fabric to provide joint stability|
|ABYON||from around $17||silicone||S–5XL||black and blue||adjustable taps, suction Velcro, and side stabilizers|
A few factors to research when purchasing a knee compression sleeve include:
- Breathability: A person may wish to choose a fabric that is breathable and moisture-wicking, which can help keep their skin dry and reduce odors.
- Flexibility: An individual should ensure the sleeve they choose does not restrict their mobility.
- Size range: People may wish to ensure the brand of knee sleeve they choose has a range of sizes, so they can find a sleeve that fits them well and is not too tight or too loose.
- Additional features: A person may wish to check if a knee compression sleeve comes with extra features, such as kneecap cushioning or adjustable straps.
Knee compression sleeves are not suitable for constant use. Instead, they are for wearing during physical activity, when people may need extra knee support. They can provide stability to the knee during exercise or prevent post-workout soreness and pain.
Knee compression may be beneficial for activities such as running, weightlifting, squats, and other cardio activities.
Some companies claim their product may also be suitable for those with arthritis or other knee-related injuries.
A person may wish to contact a doctor to check if knee compression sleeves will be right for them to avoid worsening existing injuries.
A 2019 study evaluated the use of knee sleeves in people with knee osteoarthritis pain. Participants reported improvements in walking and a reduction in pain.
There is a lack of research into the benefits of using knee compression sleeves for other physical activities.
People should always ensure that the knee sleeve is not too tight and not too loose or baggy. The sleeve should have a snug fit and should not slip down the leg or twist around the knee.
People should slip the sleeve onto the foot and then pull it upward. The center of the sleeve should lie directly on the kneecap. Some knee sleeves have a reinforced hole where it should go over the knee.
People should always stop using the compression sleeve if they experience any pain, discomfort, or skin irritation.
This section discusses the benefits and risks of knee compression sleeves and braces.
Benefits of knee compression sleeves
Knee compression sleeves offer mild support and compression. They are usually more discreet than braces, and people can wear them underneath their clothing.
Knee sleeves may provide pain relief for those with knee osteoarthritis. A 2019 study found that wearing a knee sleeve for six weeks may also improve walking speed.
Benefits of knee braces
Knee braces are bulkier and may provide more stabilization. However, they are not as discreet as compression sleeves.
A knee brace and a lateral wedge insole may improve knee function and reduce pain in those with knee osteoarthritis. However, these products also seem to be effective if a person only uses one of them.
Risks of compression treatment
There are several risks when using compression treatment. A person should always stop using the garment and contact a healthcare professional if they experience any side effects.
Common side effects include pain and discomfort and skin irritation. Rare or very rare side effects
- edema and lymphedema in the forefoot
- allergic reaction
- bacterial or fungal infection
- soft tissue damage
- arterial impairment
- venous thrombosis
- decompensated heart failure
People who have had a knee injury should seek medical advice if they enjoy exercising and are looking for additional support or something to help ease the pain.
The doctor may be able to offer advice on the best product for them and may also suggest a workout program suitable for their condition.
The following are common questions and answers about knee compression sleeves:
What is the difference between knee sleeves and knee braces?
Knee braces restrict movement, while knee sleeves should not. Additionally, knee sleeves may be suitable for those with minor knee injuries, whereas braces are suitable for more serious injuries to help with a person’s recovery.
How long do knee compression sleeves last?
The durability of a person’s knee compression sleeve will depend on how frequently they use it. On average, they can last approximately 6 months to a year.
Can you wear knee sleeves all day?
A person should only wear a knee sleeve when they need extra knee support for physical activity. An individual may be at risk of developing issues with the knee joint if they wear a knee compression sleeve that restricts their movement for long periods.
How do you measure for a knee compression sleeve?
A person can check to see if a company has a measuring guide on its website. To find the right size, an individual can bend their knee slightly and measure the circumference of their leg around the top of their calf.
How tight should my knee sleeve be?
The knee sleeve should be as tight as possible without restricting any movement. The tightness should help promote blood flow in the knee but not cut off circulation or pinch the skin.
While knee compression sleeves are suitable for use during physical activity, they can also benefit people with minor injuries or pain that affects the knee. The compression from the sleeve can reduce blood flow and fluids to the joint and improve stability, which can reduce the likelihood of pain and swelling in this part of the body.
A person may wish to consider contacting a doctor if they have severe or long lasting pain in their knee.