Apart from your feet, your knees play a huge role in your running.
They offer you freedom of movement, balance, but most importantly, they bear your entire weight through every pounding step along your numerous miles. But they are not infallible.
The sole fact that you apply a pressure close to 5 times of your bodyweight upon your knees in every step as you run, can sometimes prove to be too much for them to withstand.
Even more when you consider the average distance a runner makes.
Sure, you could always find shoes with extra cushioning, but studies have found that even the right shoes cannot be enough to prevent your joints from suffering from the shock that travels up your body every time your feet strike on the ground.
So it’s easy to see why knee injuries are so common running gear among runners.
Apart from the shock and pressure, the fact that your knees move while running can cause a fair share of wear and tear, leading to pain and progressive tendonitis.
Thankfully, apart from the right footwear, there is another way in which you can help your knees out, and this is where compression knee sleeves come into the mix.
- 1 What are compression knee sleeves and what role do they play in my running?
- 2 Common misconceptions associated with compression knee sleeves for running
- 3 What should I be looking for in compression knee sleeves for running?
- 4 Top compression knee sleeves for runners
- 5 Knee Compression Sleeve by Ultra Flex Athletics
- 6 Knee Support Sleeves by Mava Sports
- 7 Compression Knee Sleeve by Zensah
- 8 Compression Support Sleeve by Li-Ning
- 9 Knee Compression Sleeves by FitXpert
- 10 Tips when buying a compression knee sleeve for running
- 11 How to use and care for your compression knee sleeves
- 12 Final thoughts…
What are compression knee sleeves and what role do they play in my running?
As their name state, they are sleeves that wrap your knees to add support through compression. They are specially designed to protect the joints from any risk of damage or injury and allow quick muscle recovery.
Let’s take a closer look at their characteristics…
They prevent excessive knee moment
As they tightly wrap around your knee, compression knee sleeves limit the movement of your knee joints enough to prevent any injury that might occur from the wear and tear caused by excessive knee moment and muscle vibration while running.
However, they don’t restrict your natural range of motion as knee braces do, as they are designed only to prevent injuries.
They increase circulation
Knee sleeves help increase blood flow by adding compression to the knee and its surrounding areas. This reduces swelling and minimizes pain, which allows you to perform better and recover faster.
They increase proprioception
Finally, the use of compression knee sleeves while running increases proprioception. This is none other than the capacity your nervous system has to feel the position or placement of your knee joints.
Despite all their benefits, there are things compression knee sleeves are not designed for. Let’s take a look at these common misconceptions…
Common misconceptions associated with compression knee sleeves for running
Compression knee sleeves are not the same as knee braces
Unfortunately, most people tend to mistake compression knee sleeves for anything that wraps around the knee area. Therefore, it’s no wonder to see people talking about compression knee sleeves and knee braces as if they were the same thing.
They differ as compression knee sleeves are made to prevent future injuries, while braces are used to protect your knees from pre-existing injuries.
Knee sleeves cannot replace a proper warm-up
Yes, compression knee sleeves can provide warmth and increased circulation, but they can never replace a proper warm up.
So unless you want to get hurt, don’t ever consider skipping your warm up just because you’re wearing a pair of compression knee sleeves. They’re meant to help, not be a substitute.
Knee sleeves do not replace recovery days
Having a quick recovery thanks to your compression knee sleeves doesn’t mean you can train more or harder. Rest is just as important for a runner as his training.
Skipping or reducing your amount of rest days will increase the risk of injury, as injuries among runners are most commonly associated to overtraining.
Now that you know what compression knee sleeves are and what they’re not, you’re probably wondering…
What should I be looking for in compression knee sleeves for running?
When looking for the right compression knee sleeves to run with, it’s important to consider that they provide enough support and stability to do their job, but allow you move naturally and be light enough to let you endure long distances.
Support, stability, and compression are important in a compression knee sleeve, but in an activity that demands such endurance as running, you can never forget about comfort.
Therefore, look for compression knee sleeves that wrap snugly around your knees, but don’t irritate your skin, cause blisters or make you feel itchy.
Also look for sleeves that are lightweight and breathable enough to control moisture and keep your knees as dry as possible.
A normal runner’s training regime demands durable sportswear, and compression knee sleeves are not the exception. This means you will need sleeves that are durable enough not to rip apart, not to stretch or lose their compression after a couple of runs.
They also have to be washable in order to last, because excessive sweat produced while running will most likely make them smell. So always look for a sleeve you can easily wash without it suffering any damage, preferably those that can be thrown in the washing machine.
To help you narrow your search, here is a handful of compression knee sleeves worth taking a look at…
Top compression knee sleeves for runners
Knee Compression Sleeve by Ultra Flex Athletics
It’s made from blend spandex, nylon, and latex. It also includes silicone in its anti-slip strips.
- Small (S): 14.5 to 17 Inches / 37 to 43 Centimeters
- Medium (M): 17 to 19.5 Inches / 43 to 50 Centimeters
- Large (L): 19.5 to 22 Inches / 50 to 56 Centimeters
Sizing is based on the measurement of the thigh, exactly 4 inches above the knee circumference.
- Dark grey, with orange details.
- 15$ approximately for a single sleeve (For the latest prices and discounts, check here).
Made with 3D technology and high-quality materials, this compression knee sleeve seems to have all a runner should look for.
Its 4-way stretch capability gives you excellent support and stability, without restricting your movement or flexibility.
It offers optimal compression, which increases your blood flow and allows your muscles to endure more and recover a lot quicker. It’s also capable of providing relief if you happen to be suffering from minor knee pain.
Despite all these features, the Ultra Flex Athletics compression knee sleeve is very comfortable and lightweight. Plus, you won’t have any problem with it slipping down, sliding or even rolling, as it comes with double silicone waves for extra grip.
- Regarded as one of the best compression knee sleeves in the market.
- Offers enough compression and support, without compromising mobility.
- Allows better circulation, quicker recovery and can even relieve minor pain.
- It’s made of lightweight materials, it’s very comfortable, yet provides warmth and is quite durable.
- Offers extra slippage protection.
- Comes at a reasonable price.
- A few users encountered had concerns about its sizing.
- It may stretch after multiple wears.
- Package only comes with a single sleeve.
- Can only be hand washed.
Knee Support Sleeves by Mava Sports
They’re composed of bamboo charcoal fiber, spandex and latex.
- Small (S): 11.8 to 14.2 Inches / 30 to 36 Centimeters
- Medium (M): 14.2 to 16.5 Inches / 36 to 42 Centimeters
- Large (L): 16.5 to 18.5 Inches / 42 to 47 Centimeters
- Extra Large (XL): 18.5 to 21.2 Inches / 47 to 54 Centimeters
- Extra Extra Large (XXL): 21.2+ Inches / 54+ Centimeters
Sizing is based upon the measurement of the thigh, exactly 3.94 inches above the knee circumference.
- Grey and black.
- $20 approximately for the pair (For the latest prices and discounts, check here)
The distinctive mix of materials with which these compression sleeves were made from make them fibrous, yet soft on your skin. They’re pretty comfortable and are not known to cause any uncomfortable itchiness or irritation.
They’re designed to anatomically accommodate to your knees and legs, to provide enough support and compression, but without restricting your range of motion.
They can also retain heat, which helps accelerate your recovery and adds extra comfort.
- Very comfortable for a fibrous knee sleeve.
- They provide warmth and lots of support.
- Comfortable enough for everyday use.
- A good choice for runners with sensitive skin.
- Comes in enough size options to accommodate any kind of runner.
- A true bargain considering they’re packaged in pairs.
- They’re machine washable.
- Package only comes with a single sleeve.
- A few users found them to be a bit too tight.
- The materials with which they are manufactured attract dirt and may not be as durable as other sleeves.
- Some users reported that it might roll down.
Compression Knee Sleeve by Zensah
It’s made of nylon and spandex (heather grey color includes polyester). It also includes a band made of silicone.
- Small / Medium (S/M): 13 to 15 Inches / 33 to 38 Centimeters
- Large / Extra Large (L/XL): 15 to 18 Inches / 38 to 46 Centimeters
Sizing is based on the measurement of the knee circumference.
- It comes in black, blue, beige, neon pink and heather gray.
- $20 approximately for a single sleeve (For the latest prices and discounts, check here)
The light materials used in the Zensah compression knee sleeve really make it smooth, comfortable and flexible. They also do an excellent job in keeping moisture away from your skin.
This sleeve designed to last and can perfectly withstand a runner’s busy training regime without any damage or losing compression.
In terms of compression, it’s gently dispersed around your knee, while offering enough support and stability.
It also features silicone grips placed on the inner side of both top and bottom cuffs, in order to prevent it from spinning or rolling down.
Finally, it comes in a fair variety of colors, which is a big plus for all you runners who want protection, but also want to look good while running.
- It’s really lightweight and breathable.
- It’s comfortable, yet tight enough to offer support.
- It offers even compression throughout your knee and surrounding areas.
- It’s really durable, even capable to withstand trips to the washing machine.
- It offers anti-slip features.
- It comes in a variety of colors.
- It may not be enough for those who prefer tight compression.
- It can be a bit expensive for a single piece sleeve.
Compression Support Sleeve by Li-Ning
It’s made with a combination of rubber, nylon and spandex.
- Medium (M): 12.2 to 14 Inches / 31 to 36 Centimeters
- Large (L): 14.5 to 16 Inches / 37 to 41 Centimeters
- Extra Large (XL): 16.5 to 18 Inches / 42 to 46 Centimeters
Sizing is based upon the measurement of the knee circumference.
- $45 approximately for a single sleeve (For the latest prices and discounts, check here).
What sets this knee sleeve apart from the rest is its comfortable and very natural feel.
Nonetheless, it offers a fair amount of compression without being too tight, and its double-curved ergonomic surface is designed to provide stability and protection, without compromising flexibility.
It’s also manufactured with materials that prevent it from slipping.
- It offers a good balance between flexibility and stability.
- It’s comfortable and feels natural enough for everyday use.
- It offers warmth and enough compression, to prevent injuries and relieve existing pain.
- Its breathability is not the best, mostly due to its thickness.
- Even though it’s made with anti-slip materials, it is known to roll.
- It only comes in black, and its design is pretty simple and unappealing.
- Package only comes with a single sleeve.
- Currently available at a steep price.
Knee Compression Sleeves by FitXpert
They’re composed of nylon and spandex. It also comes with a silicone strip.
- Small (S): 12 to 14 Inches / 30 to 36 Centimeters
- Medium (M): 14 to 15.8 Inches / 36 to 40 Centimeters
- Large (L): 15.8 to 17.5 Inches / 40 to 44 Centimeters
- Extra Large (XL): 17.5 to 21 Inches / 44 to 53 Centimeters
Sizing is based on the measurement of the knee circumference.
- $14 approximately for the pair (For the latest prices and discounts, check here).
The materials with which these sleeves were made with, manage to make it light and comfortable for running, as they naturally wrap around your skin.
They provide enough compression to support your joints and stimulate blood flow to help your muscles recover.
They also allow enough flexibility and breathability, despite being very thick and durable.
- They’re pretty light and flexible, despite its thickness.
- They’re very comfortable.
- They offer decent breathability.
- They provide enough compression to offer good stability and support.
- They’re durable and machine washable.
- A good bargain option, especially as they come in pairs.
- They’re machine washable.
- It only comes in black and has a plain design, which can be quite unappealing.
- They could offer a bit more compression.
- A small number of users complained about these sleeves quality, fit, and ability to stay in its place.
Now before you go running to the nearest store or to place that order on Amazon, here are a couple of tips you should definitely consider in order to guarantee you’ll get the compression knee sleeves you really need…
Tips when buying a compression knee sleeve for running
Check the size
It doesn’t matter how good your choice might be if they don’t provide enough compression to increase the blood flow in the area and give your knees the support they need. So don’t take this step lightly by assuming your size.
First, try measuring your own thigh, knees, and calves and follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer to find the right size.
Once you’ve found a match, make sure they fit snugly on your knee and the surrounding areas.
Look for a good price
Just because they’re expensive, doesn’t mean they’re right for you.
Most people get taken about by knee sleeves with expensive and flashy features. But there are plenty of affordable and pretty comfortable choices that can easily fit the bill.
So, take your time and look for comfortable and supportive knee sleeves that can really adapt to your particular needs.
Also, look for those who come in pairs. This way you will not only protect both of your knees but can also save a couple of bucks, as they’re usually not as expensive as buying two separate sleeves.
Finally, here are some tips and tricks on how to get the most out of your compression knee sleeves…
How to use and care for your compression knee sleeves
When to put them on and take them off
It’s best to put your compression knee sleeves on before warm up. This will provide warmth and promote blood flow making to make it a lot more efficient.
Wear them all through your run to help reduce excessive knee movement and reduce the impact placed on your joints every time your feet strike the ground.
Finally, close to a quarter of an hour after your cooldown before taking off your sleeves. This way the compression will help reduce muscle fatigue and make your recovery time a lot quicker.
How to prevent them from slipping
Slippage can be a problem while running, and even buying compression knee sleeves with extra anti-slip features cannot fully guarantee this won’t ever happen.
So, in order to help your sleeves stay in their place you, can always use a comfortable self-adhesive bandage that doesn’t damage or irritate your skin.
You can also wear a pair of tights or leggings underneath your knee sleeves, made non-slippery or satiny materials for extra grip.
How to keep them from stretching
Fortunately, there are a couple of things you could do to care for your compression knee sleeves and make them last and keep them from losing their compression.
First and foremost, try not to use any kind of oil or lotion while using your sleeves that might compromise their materials.
Secondly, even if they’re machine washable it’s best to hand wash your sleeves with cold water and avoid using fabric softener.
Also, never throw them in the dryer. Simply lay them flat on a towel to dry so moisture won’t cause them to stretch.
In this guide, I have gone through all the details about compression knee sleeves for runners. What they are and what they’re not, and how to buy, use and care for them.
I’ve also shown you exactly what look for in knee sleeves as a runner and narrowed down your search by recommending those who can fit your needs.
Now it’s up to you to make the choice. Just remember to find a pair of compression knee sleeves that offer you enough comfort, support and stability to keep you safe for those miles to come.
Good luck and happy running!
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