What Do Knee Sleeves Do?

What do knee sleeves do, if anything? Well, the truth is they do a lot to prevent knee injuries, and keep people remain active with injured and arthritic knees.

But, that’s just the beginning! Knee Sleeves also help prevent common knee injuries, especially from sports activities that put a lot of extraordinary stress and strain on knees.

This is an ingenious device, known as a knee sleeve because of the way it is slipped onto the leg and over the knee like a sleeve. It is made of lightweight materials such as neoprene, nylon, or drytex and fits snugly around the knee without adding any bulk.

What do knee sleeves do when slipping them on at the gym
Slipping on a knee sleeve

These elastic sleeves are worn to provide gentle compression and a little extra support to the area around the knee, as opposed to more deluxe knee braces, which are worn to provide more firm support to the knee.

Compression Knee sleeves are available in a variety of sizes and designs to accommodate a variety of needs. Thy are worn on sports fields, gyms, marathons, and walking tracks just to name a few.

What Do Knee Sleeves Do for Pain?

Knee pain is a common complaint. It doesn’t matter if you’re suffering from arthritis, a degenerative meniscus tear, runners knee, or overuse in the gym, a knee compression sleeve may help you manage pain. Many studies have shown that knee compression sleeves are effective in managing some types of knee pain.

What do knee sleeves do for knee pain
Knee Sleeves Do Help Many Types of Knee Pain

There are also studies proving compression knee sleeves can ease patella pain, anterior knee pain and runners knees.

When you are thinking about a knee sleeves, however, it’s important to note that these devices aren’t likely to correct the underlying problem.

What knee sleeves do for pain to help you feel more comfortable while either time, physicians or physical therapy corrects the problem.

Knee sleeves are not considered a brace in the strictest sense of the word. They do not have hinges, struts, or any other mechanical support system to hold them up. However, studies on the effects of compression knee sleeves have shown that they can have a significant impact on the pain of arthritis. Additionally, studies show a significant functional improvement along with the pain relief. When you wear a knee compression sleeve, everyday activities become easier and more tolerable.

Different Types of Knee Braces

Knee sleeves are the most common type of knee support, despite the fact that they are not braces in the technical sense of the word. I’ve included them in this list of knee braces because they’re so common.

Prophylactic Knee Braces

Prophylactic Knee Braces on a leg

These braces are designed to protect the knee from injuries that can occur during contact sports activities such as football, basketball, and hockey. They are designed primarily to help prevent MCL injury, and studies indicate they help relieve MCL knee stiffness and strain.

Functional Knee Braces

Functional knee braces

Functional braces are for support from a knee injury while the knee is healing. There are different types of functional knee braces used for different injuries such as MCL, ACL, PCL, LCL, or a combination of these injuries. They are designed to apply direct forces for support of specific ligaments involved.

Knee Compression Sleeve Braces

knee sleeve brace

Knee Sleeves aren’t technically a knee brace at all, but are often referred to as knee braces or knee support braces. Knee sleeves are made from materials such as nylon, drytex, polartec, and neoprene. Knee sleeves do offer compression that can increase blood flow that promotes healing, warmth, added support and stability. Knee sleeves are used for protection from knee injuries in the gym, tennis courts, joggers, runners, walkers, and people with osteoarthritis.

Some people believe wearing a knee sleeve can also help with proprioception which can wind up helping with knee pain. So, knee sleeves not only offer the possibility of less knee pain, but can improve your stability. Even though compression sleeves are not usually recommended for more serious injuries, they are known to help many arthritis sufferers.

What Do Knee Sleeves Do?

Knee sleeves are elastic by nature and work by providing compression to the joint and surrounding muscles. That compression increases the blood flow to the area to reduce pain and swelling before, during, and after normal use, exercise, or sports.

The Knee Compression Sleeves naturally:

  • Adds stability to the joint
  • Limits patella (kneecap) movement
  • Increases proprioception
  • Aids in faster recovery from injuries and exercise or workouts
  • Makes staying active on troublesome knees easy

Let’s take a closer look at the 4 main benefits of knee sleeves and why they are so popular.

1. Knee Sleeves Add Support and Stability In Stressful Activities

Here are 3 different applications for wearing knee sleeves when a little extra support can go a long way:

  • Weight lifting
  • Sports and other activities that put extra stress on knees
  • Injured, recovering, and arthritic knees

— Weight Lifting

Powerlifters and weightlifters in particular use stiff and rigid sleeves when training and often in competitions to stabilize the knee joints while under heavy loads.

Face it, your knees were specifically designed to carry the weight of your upper body. When you load them with the extraordinary amounts of weight involved in weight lifting, the stress is tremendous.

Among other benefits, compression knee sleeves help support the knee by holding knee joints, muscles, tendons, and ligaments in line and maintain the support needed to avoid injury.

This added support is a great advantage to keeping your knees safe when involved in doing squats, snatch, and the clean and jerk.

— Sports and high stress physical activities

Most sports put tremendous pressure on knee joints as they are forced to make violent, sudden, and unnatural twist and turns.

Athletes depend on knee sleeves for added stability, improving performance and preventing injuries. They protect the joints from injury when taking misplaced and wrong steps, along with helping to regain control quickly.

The compression factor tends to increase blood flow to the area which provides a gentle warming effect. Knee sleeves keep the joints in action and strong longer as they tire.

— Weak and arthritic knees

Injured, arthritic, and knees recovering from exercise are usually sore and create a sensation of being unstable.

The compression and gentle tightness of knee sleeves provide much needed support and confidence that knees won’t buckle under the strain of your weight.

They provide a sturdy, stable, and steady joint with arthritic, sore, and weak knees for keeping active when it seems impossible without them.

2. Knee Sleeves Can Minimize Stress on Knee Caps

One of the major problems athletes face in their career is having to deal with knee injuries. Torn cartilage, blown ACLs, MCLs, and PCLs can make athletes stop doing what they love for long periods of time to recover from injuries.

Knee sleeves hold the patella — kneecap — in place during any active use that’s putting stress on your knees.

Whether you’re running, playing basketball, soccer, CrossFit, powerlifting, or bodybuilding you want to limit the patella movement to avoid injury.

Compression sleeves are mechanical supports for knee joints designed to hold the knee cap in place and add an extra layer of protection as it is put through many abnormal and stressful movements.

3.  Knee Sleeves Stabilize and Support Weak Knee Joints

Knee sleeves take the worry out of possible knee injuries when you’re putting extra stress on them during exercise or competition of any kind.

Knees are the most vulnerable joint we have even with no extra stress involved. They not only bear our body weight, but must endure the constant twisting and turning motions from normal walking and movement.

When we add sports and exercise to the mix the risk of injury multiplies many times.

Whether you’re engaged in any sports, workout, or exercise activities with weak or injured knees, compression sleeves can definitely help stabilize and support your legs and body.

Not only that bu the added support will give you a heightened sense of balance even on injured knees.

4.  Knee Sleeves Improves Healing and Exercise Recovery

Compression knee sleeves tend to cause added blood circulation to the area which in turn warms your knee joints.

This added blood circulation and warmth

  • Helps the healing process
  • Speeds recovery time from working out and exercise
  • Aides in keeping the joints lubricated

Knee injuries are the most prevalent injuries among athletes in most sports.

Unfortunately, sometimes athletes may never be able to play again if their injuries are not handled and treated properly and given enough recovery time.

That is why athletes and sports and fitness enthusiasts think of ways they can prevent injuries from happening. One common solution is to wear a hard brace for injury prevention; however, hard braces have a number of disadvantages.

They limit knee mobility along with preventing joints from becoming stronger. That is why, for athletes who want to protect themselves from knee injuries without compromise, wearing knee sleeves is often their best option.

The best sleeves are anatomically shaped to prevent injuries and provide a comfortable and pleasing fit.  You’ll find them great for all seasons, wet or dry, and used both indoors and outdoors.

Depending on the brand and model you choose, most are designed for specific uses, such as recovery and rehab, running, walking, hiking, weight lifting, bicycling, basketball, and more.

Knee Sleeves Aren’t Braces

Why are knee sleeves different from knee braces?

Because knee braces have holes for the kneecap and are reinforced with metal, while knee sleeves are often made of neoprene or other softer materials and do not have any metal elements.

  • Knee sleeves are used to protect the knee from risks of being damaged and from any future injuries. They are often used for added support after an injury to add support aid in the recovery process.
  • Knee Braces are more rigid and provide much more support for injured and damaged joints, and aren’t as versatile or comfortable as sleeves.


Still asking “What do knee sleeves do?”

Relieve Knee Pain

It took too long for me to discover that the added support from a knee sleeve could dramatically reduce the pain that held me back. There’s no need for you to wait another minute.

A compression knee sleeve is a comfortable option for someone who needs extra support for their injured knees but does not want to invest in a more deluxe brace.

Injuries can occur for a variety of reasons and can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, or occupation. Whatever the cause, the one thing that all knee problems have in common is the pain. And, knee sleeves do relieve that pain in many instances.

Add Protection from Injury

The protection sleeves can provide is phenomenal and very important for knees that are frequently put under pressure. Choosing the best knee sleeves for running, jumping, sports (especially basketball) and doing some heavy lifting.

But the truth is that you don’t have to be an athlete at all to benefit from wearing knee sleeves!

If you have knee problems but they are not severe enough to warrant an actual knee brace, you should wear a knee sleeve as a preventive measure. A sleeve can be worn without impeding movement in any way, and are comfortable to wear. Knee Sleeves do make an excellent way to protect yourself from potential knee injuries.

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