6 Best Knee Sleeves in 2024

Knee compression sleeves provide joint support and may offer some pain relief during physical activity. Here are the best options to get you moving again.

If you have knee pain or are rehabilitating a minor injury, knee compression sleeves can offer support during physical activity. Different from knee braces, which restrict knee motion either fully or partially, knee sleeves are made of stretchy fabric that stabilizes and supports the joint without impeding movement.

We’ve rounded up the best knee sleeves based on a range of activities, price points, and levels of support. Read on to see our picks and for tips on how to choose the right knee sleeve for you.

When selecting the top knee sleeves available, we considered a range of priorities, including:

  • Functionality: Style over substance isn’t usually what you want when it comes to supportive workout accessories. We made sure our knee sleeve selections checked all the boxes for support, flexibility, and durability.
  • Sustainability: Making a short-term investment is fine in some cases, but you want to make sure your workout gear will last through multiple sessions over time. Our picks are proven to hold up to a range of exercise expectations, and are machine washable for long-term hygiene.
  • Affordability: Budget is key when planning how you’re going to support your activity. If you’re looking for a quality sleeve, it helps to have choices at various price points.

The primary feature of a knee-compression sleeve, or knee sleeve, is its ability to stretch over the knee and provide support and protection to the joint.

Rather than restricting knee movement, like a knee brace, the sleeve allows for motion but helps align the knee joint and protects it from damage by compressing the muscles and tissues around it. This compression increases blood flow to the area, which can reduce pain, and swelling, like from knee effusions, or fluid buildup in the bursa of the knee joint.

Knee sleeves are often used during periods of physical activity, when the knee joint is overworked and in need of extra support. This is particularly the case for those taking part in load-bearing or knee-centric activities, such as weightlifting, running, or jumping.

It’s important you get the right fit when choosing a knee sleeve, says Greg Minnis, DPT, of Excel Physical Therapy in New Jersey. Make sure that the sleeve is not so tight that it causes discomfort, but not so loose that it slides around when you’re moving.

How to choose at a knee sleeve

It’s important you get the right fit when choosing a knee sleeve. Dr. Greg Minnis, a physical therapist at Excel Physical Therapy in New Jersey, says you want to make sure that the sleeve is not so tight that it causes discomfort. “On the flip side, you don’t want the brace to be so loose that it slides around when you’re moving,” he says.

Minnis’ tip for purchasing online is to buy two sizes and keep whichever one feels more comfortable while you’re walking or performing the activity you intend to use the sleeve for.

When should I wear a knee compression sleeve?

A 2017 study found that a compression knee sleeve is an effective and immediate way to reduce pain, and improve knee stability and confidence during activity. If you’re experiencing pain while doing exercises that involve significant motion at your knees, you may benefit from wearing a knee sleeve.

Minnis says it’s important to keep in mind that knee sleeves provide only minor support, and as such should be used to reduce mild to moderate pain and improve stability during activity. Those with a more serious injury, or those recovering from major knee surgery, may need the stability of a rigid, hinged knee brace, rather than a sleeve.

Taping, which involves wrapping the knee in special tape to limit unwanted movement and support the joint, is another alternative, Minnis says.

Another good option for knee support is a knee strap, a patella brace (a smaller product that only wraps around the leg below your kneecap), or a pain relief patch. You can also opt for ace wraps or elastic tubular bandages.

If you sleep on your side, you may want to look into a small knee support pillow to promote hip and spinal alignment. Low impact exercise also helps strengthen the muscles around your knee, providing better support.

Finally, if you’re experiencing knee pain, consider using ice for 15 minutes on and off; elevating your leg whenever possible; or speaking with your doctor or other healthcare professional if the pain begins to interfere with your daily activities or is accompanied by redness, swelling, or warmth.

If you have minor knee issues and are looking to reduce some knee pain and support your mobility, a knee sleeve could be a great option. The guide above can help you find one with the right level of support for your particular knee issue and activity level.

However, if you’re finding that a knee sleeve isn’t providing the results you had hoped for, or you continue to experience significant pain, consider meeting with your doctor or a specialist to discuss your options. They can better evaluate your situation and recommend next steps, quality knee braces, or possible treatment plans and therapies.

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