Life

The 5 Best Knee Sleeves

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Whether you're dealing with an injury or you're trying to protect your joints from long-term damage, a really great knee sleeve is a must. In fact, the best knee sleeves can keep you healthy, active, and pain-free for a long time to come.

Sports chiropractor and former performance therapist for the Chinese Olympic Committee Dr. Ian Shaw agrees. "Having a sleeve around the knee can help secure the knee in correct alignment and also provide support when the knee is placed in compromising positions." Before you invest in one, though, Dr. Shaw emphasizes that it's really important to look for an adjustable knee sleeve that's tight enough to stay put, yet won't cut off circulation.

Another thing to consider is the type of activities you tend to participate in most. For example, if you're playing football, volleyball, or another high-impact sport, you may want to opt for a padded knee sleeve to prevent injury. On the other hand, you'll definitely want a thinner, more flexible option for running or walking. Whichever way you go, Dr. Shaw advises that the "material should be breathable and robust enough to provide decent support."

It's not exactly easy to find a high-quality knee sleeve that's just right for you. Here's a round-up of some excellent options to help you get started.

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1
The Best For Joint Pain & Injuries: Mava Sports Knee Support Sleeves

This pair of knee sleeves is perfect if you regularly suffer from joint pain or have an old injury you want to protect. It's made with a flexible, neoprene fabric that offers ample compression to keep your knees properly aligned, whether you're lifting weights, walking, or full-out sprinting. Where some knee sleeves rely solely on compression to shape to your legs, these sleeves feature an anatomically shaped design that makes them even more comfortable. They also offer compression in all the right places to reduce inflammation and help your joints recover after a tough workout or long day on your feet.

According to one reviewer: "I have been suffering from pain and swelling in my left knee due to repetitive workouts consisting of squats and lunges. To my wonder as soon as I wore these I started experiencing the compression and the warmth as someone is giving me warm massage over my knees. Kept wearing these for the whole day. Now I am going to sleep and just removed them and really have no pain in my legs and I hope to sleep well throughout the night. I highly recommend these. You will love them!"

  • Available in sizes: Small - XXX-Large
2
The Best To Reduce Next Day Soreness: Copper Fit Pro Series Compression Knee Sleeve

To reduce the dreaded soreness that goes hand-in-hand with a challenging workout, this copper-infused knee sleeve is a must. Like other sleeves, this one is made from flexible materials that won't bunch up or roll down, but it also features high-performance copper and kinesiology bands that provide targeted support. The copper works to reduces inflammation and speeds up healing time so you can get back to your workouts ASAP.

According to one reviewer: "This morning I could not flex my knee except may be 100°. I picked up one [of these] and after wearing it for about two hours, I was able to flex my knee. [M]y range of motion has increased to pretty much normal and I have not taking any NSAIDs today. I am sold."

  • Available in sizes: Medium - XX-Large
3
The Best For High-Impact Sports: McDavid Knee Sleeve with Gel Insert

Whether you play a high-impact sport or need a little extra support while you're gardening, this padded knee sleeve is a miracle-worker. For one, it's latex-free and breathable, so even as you sweat, you still stay cool and comfortable. The highlight of this sleeve, though, is the gel insert. It pads your knee to soften impact and is stitched in so it won't move around even during intense workouts.

According to one reviewer: "I absolutely love this knee pad. It's great for at my job kneeling on concrete off and on all day. I had a pair of the foam knee pads and they were completely flat in less than a month. These seem like they will not go flat for a long time. Also for those wondering about the pad itself it is a gel cushion and is very low profile so it can fit under a pair of pants with ease. Very supportive as well."

  • Available in sizes: Small - X-Large
4
The Best For Running: UFlex Athletics Knee Compression Sleeve

Thousands of Amazon reviewers insist this highly flexible knee sleeve works wonders to protect their knees while running. Unlike other sleeves, this one is made with a lighter fabric blend and features breathable mesh so you won't overheat as you jog, walk, or run. It also features a bit more flexibility at the actual knee cap so you can comfortably bend in it, while also offering targeted compression at the joints and ligaments so your entire leg stays in alignment during strenuous exercise. Both novice and advanced runners can't say enough good things about this knee sleeve.

According to one reviewer: "I couldn't go beyond about 3 miles without experiencing excruciating knee pain and being forced to limp home. Even with dedicated training I was still struggling with the knee pain. I've now been through about 3 brands of sleeves and this one takes the cake. I am now to the point that if throw this sucker on I can make 10+ miles without major issues. I directly attribute a large portion of my success to this knee brace. I feel like it helped me bridge the gap with my really weak knee."

  • Available in sizes: Small - X-Large
5
The Best For Weightlifting: ProFitness Knee Sleeve Squat Support

These durable sleeves are perfect for anyone lifting heavy weights and putting strain on their knees regularly. They come in a pack of two, and each sleeve is made from thick neoprene that applies graduated compression to sensitive joints and ligaments that take the brunt of your body weight. On top of that, they won't slip or roll down as you squat and lift, and they also offer the right amount of flexibility to allow you to move while still keeping your knees safe and stable.

According to one reviewer: "These knee sleeves made it possible for me to squat heavy again with NO knee pain. This is the brand to buy. You can’t beat the price and these are the right material to maintain their shape over years of hard workouts. I had bad tendonitis in my right knee from heavy squats without wraps or sleeves over the years. BIG MISTAKE. Last night I squatted pain free."

  • Available in sizes: Small - XX-Large

Studies referenced:

Borkow, G. (2014) Using Copper to Improve the Well-Being of the Skin. Current Chemical Biology, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4556990/#

Experts:

Dr. Ian Shaw, sports chiropractor at Dr. Ian Shaw Sports Chiropractic, and former performance therapist for the Chinese Olympic Committee