Why Wear Knee Sleeves? What is the Purpose?

Have you noticed people wearing knee sleeves, and wondered why they are wearing them? This post will answer your question “why wear knee sleeves?”

Knee sleeves aren’t new, anymore. They were first invented in the ’60s by a Dr. McDavid to prevent knee injuries in high stress situations. In fact, Joe Namath wore one in the super bowl of 1967.

As time went on, more and more athletes started wearing knee sleeves to protect their own knees. However, athletes aren’t the only people wearing knee sleeves these days.

Why Wear Knee Sleeves?

There are many advantages and benefits that come with slipping on a pair of knee sleeves. These devices make playing intensive sports safer, help injured knees heal faster, keep arthritic knees on the move, and help people stand longer and more comfortably for long periods of time.

Here’s just a few reasons why people are wearing knee sleeves everywhere you look. What are knee sleeves for:

  • Providing extra support, stability, balance, and confidence, especially for knees with arthritis.
  • Aiding in recovery from injured, sore, and tired knees.
  • Speeding up recovery time from workouts, exercise, and running.
  • Providing more support for knee joints and supporting muscles in sports, arthritis, or just standing or walking for long hours.
  • Keeping the patella aligned and in place.
  • Delivering stability and protection from injury for weight lifters, especially when doing squats, lunges, clean and jerk, and more maneuvers that put inordinate stress and pressure on knees.

This ingenious support device is made from very lightweight materials such as neoprene, drytex, or even knitted material.

image of a knee sleeve for why wear knee sleeves
Knee Sleeves fit snug to provide compression

Knee sleeves fit snug and depending on the use, tight around your knee. They seldom add any extra bulk and are so light you barely know they’re there at all. That’s why they are great for wearing under garments.

Overall they come in so many different sizes and even lengths that you’ll have no trouble finding just the right one or pair to fit your own purpose and needs. And if you’re picky about colors, no worries there, because knee sleeves come in everything from solid colors to vibrant patterns.

7 Benefits of Knee Sleeve

What are knee sleeves good for? Here’s 7 benefits of wearing knee sleeves that should answer that question.

1. Compression

The elastic type of tightness is intended to cause an increase in blood flow that warms both the joint itself, and the surrounding muscles. Did you know that cold muscles, tendons, and joints injure more easily than warm ones because they can’t contract properly in cold temperatures?

All knee sleeves are built around this idea of compression. The compression exist from the sleeve fitting tight around the joint and supporting muscles. That’s why all the other benefits of wearing knee sleeves exist.

The compression is a gentle squeezing that causes:

  • An increase in blood flow
  • Adds support to the muscles, tendons, and joint itself
  • Warms the joint, muscles, and tendons

2. Support

Support varies depending on the purpose of your purchase and the quality of the product. Weight lifters, in particular, depend on a great deal more support when choosing knee sleeves than runners.

Weightlifters and powerlifters rely on sleeves like Stoic knee sleeves that sacrifice comfort for extreme support. Even though though those support sleeves are 7MM, not all neoprene sleeves are so thick.

Neoprene knee sleeves come in three different thicknesses:

  • 3mm for when you need a lot of agility and endurance in your activities. Runners often use the 3mm
  • 5mm when you need both high agility and or endurance workouts
  • 7mm is generally thought of when you need strong and powerful stabilization along with extra support. The 7mm thick sleeves are common for heavy weight lifting, especially squats, and are used for extra support during periods of rehabilitation.

But that’s just part of the story! Compression knee braces also come in various types of cloth and mixtures of nylon, spandex, and neoprene.

The Bauerfeind GenuTrain is a high-quality product made from a beautiful knit material. Bauerfeinds are designed to relieve pain and swelling from arthritis and provide superb comfort and support for any active lifestyle or sport.

Fabric style sleeves provide different levels of comfort and support based on the quality of the product you choose.

And don’t forget that compression means some degree of tightness around your knee. So if you choose a size that’s too large you will lose the compression, support, and any other benefits.

3. Injury Prevention

Injury prevention the main function of knee sleeves.

why wear knee sleeves for injury prevention
Here’s a good answer to “why wear knee sleeves in sports?”

Knee braces, on the other hand, are mechanical devices and are designed to protect an injury from more damage and better stabilize the joint. But, Sleeves are more than a mechanical device.

They are designed to add warmth, increase blood flow to the area, along with limiting patella movement. That is, unless you are wearing an open patella knee sleeve.

They’re worn when you have an injury that doesn’t limit your mobility, for protection from injury, and to improve proprioception.

Knee sleeves can make the difference in walking off the playing field and being carried off due to an array of knee injuries.

Knee injuries are a common occurrence in sports and sports medicine all over the globe. We see blown ACLs, PCLs, MCLs, and torn cartilage in a variety of athletic situation on a regular basis.  Prophylactic (protective or preventive) knee sleeves are used to limit the occurrence and severity of injuries without limiting knee mobility. 

4. Proprioception

runners wearing knee sleeves
Runners Benefit from Wearing Knee Sleeves

Proprioception may be a word you haven’t used, but proprioception is important to all your mobility functions.

Here’s what proprioception means in a nutshell: Being able to feel where your joint is at in relationship to the rest of your body.

Proprioception is directly related to balance and is especially important in sports of any kind. It comes into play with arthritic knee joints and learning new sporting activities.

Wearing knee sleeves helps your brain have a greater sense of where your knees are and what’s going on with them at all times.

Wearing a sleeve on your knee gives you a sense of confidence and control over what your joints are doing, whether you’re involved in sporting activities or walking for exercise to lower blood pressure.

5. Powerlifters

Both casual weight lifters as well as powerlifters use 7mm neoprene weightlifting knee sleeves when their knees are involved.

Why is this weight lifter wearing knee sleeves
Powerlifter Weightlifters protect knees with knee sleeves

Putting such extreme weight and stress on knees when lifting heavy can grind on the joint and kneecap, and cause severe tendonitis.

Neoprene weight lifting sleeves provide the much needed support for squats, snatches, and clean and jerk. Anyone putting knees at risk of damage and injury can benefit.

6. Arthritis sufferers

People of all ages with arthritis in their knees find life much easier with less pain when they wear knee sleeves for arthritis.

Osteoarthritis of the knees affects millions of people all over the world, both young and old. Knee sleeves add stabilization, support, and aid in pain relief when people wear knee support for arthritis. Sleeves keep people up and active that would otherwise be confined to chairs and knee surgeries.

It seems counter intuitive, but exercise is usually the number one treatment for osteoarthritis of the knees. Patients are advised to exercise the joints regularly with activities such as walking to keep joints, from freezing up, and muscles, and tendons from atrophying.

It’s easy to give up the lifestyle you love and are accustomed to when your knees are affected. But top quality knee braces can keep you exercising and participating in all the activities you love even with arthritis.

7. Sports

When it comes to athletics, knee injuries are always a problem and a possibility. Blowing out a knee or tearing cartilage can get you out of action for a long time.

Because knee sleeves provide protection from injury and risk of damage from continuous pressure and stress of workouts and playing sports, you will see them on most any playing field.

People even wear knee sleeves post-workouts, practice, and games to help with recovery. They know they help reduce swelling and pain.

Knee sleeves can also be used post-workout because they aid in the recovery process by reducing swelling and minimizing pain. They’re a big help for people who are into CrossFit and are used post-WOD for this exact reason. 

But, we now have millions of people world wide who can attest to the added support and stability of a knee sleeve in everyday use.

But, besides protecting knees, sleeves are for anyone with sore, aching, or troublesome knees. By no means, do I think they cure, correct, or heal joints that should be at a physician’s office. But they might just keep you up and going and prolonging a knee replacement?

Who Can Benefit From Wearing Knee Sleeves?

  • Anyone putting excessive stress on their knees
  • Anyone with arthritis in a knee or knees
  • Athletes who are stressing their knees, both young and old
  • Weight lifters doing any maneuvers where knees are involved, especially squats
  • Anybody involved in high impact sports such as Crossfit, basketball, powerlifting, rugby, soccer, volleyball
  • Runners, joggers, walkers
  • People who stand on their feet all day at work can benefit from the added support
  • People recovering from knee injuries who do not require a ridged knee brace
  • Anyone who wants faster recovery from exercise, serious workouts, and playing sports
  • Just about anyone with active knees can benefit from wearing knee sleeves


Still wondering “why wear knee sleeves?”

I don’t know about you, but I only have two knees, so I try to take care of them so they’ll last a long time. In fact, it’s never too late to show them the love and protection they deserve.

The list of applications and who could benefit from wearing knee sleeves in this post could go on and on.

Some people naturally assume they are strictly for athletes and sporting activities? However, you can see that wearing compression knee sleeves is for anyone needing more support, and control over their legs and knee joints.

The snug fit helps anyone who needs additional support and stability during any physical activity at all. They will aid in reducing swelling and pain in injured knees to keep you on your feet.

The compression is going to keep muscles, tendons, and joints warm while increasing blood flow. They will add support, injury prevention, balance from good Proprioception, and make life much easier with arthritis in your knees.

I really could go on and on about why you should wear knee sleeves, but you get the point, right? No matter who you are, if you are on your feet — put on some knee sleeves — you’ll love wearing them.

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