Do you squat and sometimes have knee pain? Do you know someone with knee pain and would like to minimize the chances you have the same problem? Or have you seen someone squatting wearing something around their knees and wondered what they were wearing?
Don’t worry, you’re not the only one! Knee sleeves are a relatively new idea to a lot of weightlifters. Lucky for you, we know everything about knee sleeves because we have our very own knee sleeve collection.They are a proven way to help reduce pain and prevent knee injuries when working out. Keep on reading to learn what they're used for and how to properly use them, so you can decide whether you're going to add your own pair of knee sleeves to your gym bag or not!
What are knee sleeves made of?
Knee sleeves are actually made from a variety of materials, but the most common are neoprene and nylon. The former is soft and flexible, making it ideal for compression. The latter offers additional support for knee protection. Depending on which material you choose, your knee sleeves will be more or less warm and more or less compressed; they may also be significantly pricier.
How to wear your knee sleeves
Before we dig into the benefits of knee sleeves and the best pairs for you, let's talk about how to use them. Depending on the stiffness of your knee sleeves, it might be harder to put on than softer ones. The idea remains the same though.
- Slide your foot into your sleeve and roll the top of the sleeve.
- Grab the rolled part of the sleeve and continue to slide the sleeve up and above the knee cap.
- Once in a comfortable position where knee cap is fully covered, unroll the top
- Repeat the same step for other leg
- To remove, simply unroll starting from the top until the sleeve can be pulled off
What to look for when buying knee sleeves
Since everyone's lifting needs are different, the best knee sleeves are really dependent on your training goals and what you find comfortable. The three main things you should consider when looking for wrist wraps are: thicknesses, length and shape.
- The thicknesses determine the stiffness and a good way to measure how much compression you will get from the sleeves. The thicker, the stiffer and more compression.
- The length is a preference and how much of your leg you would like covered surrounding your knee cap. You typically want longer sleeves, 10”-12” so that they do not slide off your knees when working out.
- Some are tapered and some are curved. These really just come down to preference and what you find comfortable.
What are the benefits of wearing knee sleeves?
Knee sleeves offer a number of advantages to weightlifters and athletes.
- Knee sleeves are compression garments. Compression is a measure of the force per unit area applied to an object, in this case your knees, by something external to it (in this case your knee sleeves). Compression can be good or bad for you. One obvious example of bad compression is when compressing a cupcake in your hand so hard that it crumbles into pieces. But good compression has many benefits, including reducing swelling and pain, helping keep injuries warm and mobile until they can receive proper care, providing support for limbs without restricting motion, and more.
- By supporting the knee joint with compression, knee sleeves also help stabilize weightlifting movements like squats and lunges. This allows you to lift heavier weights more safely while promoting muscle gain through increased range of motion during your workouts.
- Good compression is typically accompanied by good thermoregulation - that's what happens when your body temperature stays at a comfortable level throughout exercise! As a general rule of thumb (although there may be exceptions), thicker knee sleeves offer greater thermal insulation than do thinner ones.
Are knee sleeves and knee wraps the same?
Contrary to what some people may believe, knee sleeves and knee wraps are not the same thing. Knee sleeves provide compression and warmth that can help prevent injuries by keeping joints stable. Knee wraps are typically made out of elastic material and aid in stabilizing joints by providing support during heavy lifts. A good pair of knee wraps can help increase weight on squats over time by assisting lifters in getting into a deeper range of motion which allows for more weight to be lifted if used properly.
If you are looking to improve your squat, jump higher, or just want your knees to feel better while doing basic daily movements such as climbing stairs, a knee sleeve may be the answer.
Do knee sleeves help prevent injuries?
Most importantly, if you have a history of knee injuries, knee sleeves may help prevent further injuries. The tightness of the sleeve may help provide additional stability to your knees, which can decrease the likelihood of future injuries. Knee sleeve compression will also reduce swelling in your knees and joints, which is especially beneficial for those with pre-existing knee conditions.
Do knee sleeves help your knees warm up for workouts?
Knee sleeves have multiple uses and can help prevent injuries. When it comes to warming up, they can help your knee joints and ligaments stay warm so your knees are ready for a workout. Though they won't make your knee stronger, they can help you get more out of your workouts by keeping them warm beforehand.
To use them, simply place the sleeves on your knees before working out. If you're doing a lower-body weightlifting session, you'll probably want to put them on before starting any exercise so you don't have to interrupt the rest of your session while putting the sleeves on in between sets of other exercises. The same is true if you're doing running drills or plyometric training that requires quick movements because pausing to put on the sleeves will interrupt these exercises. You may want to try some leg swings or other movements that are easier with the sleeves in order to warm up with them as well.
Do knee sleeves help with squatting?
Knee sleeves can be an excellent addition to your squatting routine. They can give you the extra confidence you need to push yourself harder, and they help keep your knees pushed out during your descent and ascent so that you maintain proper form. They also work to keep your muscles warm, providing relief from pain and helping prevent injuries while allowing maximum movement. If you're looking to increase the depth or weight of your squats, knee sleeves are a great way of getting there.
Do knee sleeves help with arthritis pain?
The question of whether compression sleeves help with arthritis pain is a complex one. Arthritis is typically defined as inflammation in the joints caused by a number of things, including disease, injury or genetics. Knee sleeves cannot replace medical treatment for arthritis caused by any of these things, but based on anecdotal evidence many people experience relief from knee sleeve compression. The reasons for this can be explained by three processes: swelling reduction, support and warmth.
Arthritis can cause swelling and inflammation in the joints, which contributes to pain. Compression can help reduce swelling through multiple mechanisms: active compression and passive compression. With active compression (as experienced with knee sleeves), muscles are forced to work harder to counteract the pressure effect of the sleeve. This activity increases blood circulation and fluid flow in the joint space, which may help alleviate pain. Passive compression (as experienced when wearing a knee brace) works through creating an external pressure gradient around your joint, causing excess fluid to be pushed outwards where it can be more easily drained by other means such as gravity or muscular contraction.
Knee sleeves also provide support to your joint in much the same way that a knee brace does—by compressing the joint, they force it into alignment and provide stability during movement that would otherwise not be there if you were suffering from arthritis under normal conditions. In addition, this stability provided by knee sleeves also reduces shock absorption in your cartilage—and since increased stress on cartilage is one of main causes of osteoarthritis aftereffects, wearers may find less difficulty in performing daily movements over time compared to those who do not wear knee sleeves.
Finally, maintaining warmth around your knees inside a neoprene sleeve may also help relieve arthritic pain because heat helps relax sore muscles and relieve stiffness (although cold temperature has been shown to have similar effects).
Do knee sleeves help with recovery after working out?
If you want to wear your knee sleeves to help with recovery, the reasoning is simple: increased blood flow helps you heal more quickly. When your body is warmer, it promotes an increase in blood circulation. The sleeves will keep your knees warm (unless you are wearing them on a hot summer day), which means more blood can circulate faster and transport oxygen to the area of injury faster. This will help those muscles rebuild themselves and get back into fighting form as soon as possible after a workout or other physical activity.
Knee sleeves may or may not be useful to you. We cover everything you need to know about them.
Knee sleeves are often marketed as a magic bullet for knee health. They aren't. But they can be useful when used properly and with an understanding of what they do, and don't do for you.
First, if you have any ongoing knee pain or injury history, or issues, talk to your doctor before buying knee sleeves. And if your doctor gives the thumbs up but you're still wary of how your knees will respond to weightlifting in general (fair), start out slowly with light weights and focus on perfecting technique before loading up on heavier weights that'll put more stress on your joints and potentially exacerbate existing issues.
Next, keep in mind that knee sleeves aren't a replacement for proper squatting form. If anything, using them could give you a false sense of security and encourage bad form since the compression can make it feel like you're protecting yourself from injury when really all you're doing is preventing yourself from feeling joint pain. And by "bad form," experts mean tucking your hips back too far (which puts extra pressure on the knees), keeping feet too far apart or not wide enough apart (excessively wide feet could throw off balance) or shins moving forward ahead of toes (this one's hard to see without a mirror).
More generally, remember that it's never wise to use external supports to compensate for weaknesses in either mobility or flexibility; instead work on improving those areas directly so you don't rely on outside forces like knee sleeves to help all the time—especially because there may come a day when they aren't available (and/or are sweaty/gross).
Be kind to your fellow gym members by washing your knee sleeves at least once a week!