Runners experiencing knee pain or discomfort may find that knee sleeves are a helpful device to keep their feet hitting the pavement. In addition, the compression of knee sleeves can also aid in recovery. We share everything you need to know when it comes to the best knee sleeves on the market.
Knee Sleeves Benefits?
Knee sleeves are pieces of compression material made seamlessly in order to protect the knee. First, compression has been know to aid in recovery by increasing blood flow to that area. As you know, increased blood flow has healing properties.
Knee sleeves can provide support for unstable knees. Runners recovering from knee injuries as simple as a slight twist or jarring can benefit from increased stability.
Additionally, some athletes recovering from more serious problems such as a torn meniscus or ACL may feel a knee sleeve helps them continue to maintain activity.
Best Knee Sleeves for Runners
1. Physix Gear
A steal at under $15, the Physix Gear knee sleeve is a quality product. It is anti slip and will stay in place even under the most grueling circumstances.
Receiving excellent ratings by purchasers, it is referred to as the best in the business. One reviewer on Amazon stated that it was her third knee sleeve and heads and shoulders above the others she had tried.
Not only is it inexpensive, functional and comfortable, it is available in pretty colors! Another reviewer spoke positively about the fact that it is available in pink and black, which is unusual for such a product. Hey, for some runners, pretty matters!
According to Amazon, UFLex is their top selling knee sleeve product. This one is advertised to help in recovery and to offer support for runners knee, jumpers knee, arthritis, tendonitis and a litany of other problems.
Made from anti-slip silicon, it also boasts it will stay in place during your workout. Athletes are cautioned to measure the leg and use the sizing advice provided. This sleeve is more utilitarian and lacking some of the cute factor in the afore mentioned product.
Powerlix offers a 100% money back guarantee if dissatisfied with the product. In fact, they offer your money back up to six months after purchase and use – that is how confident they are in their compression sleeve. It boasts a knitted technical design with silicon gel strips to keep it in place during your workout.
It receives excellent reviews (almost 8,000 on Amazon) and, as you can see, does offer some style points for a runner who doesn’t just want to perform well, but wants to look good while doing it (note: this photo states it is a knee brace, but it technically fits into the sleeve category). The Powerlix can be purchased for under $18.
The Neenca knee sleeve features an air knit fabric for breathability, and promises to pull moisture away from the athlete’s body keeping you comfortable through and post activity. Neeca refers to itself as “medical grade technology” appropriate for all types of injuries and injury prevention.
Under $20 for a sleeve, this one comes in a multitude of different colors.
Retailing for around $25, the RiptGear knee sleeve is the most expensive of the sleeves reviewed. In advertisement, it is referred to as both a sleeve and a brace, and said to be good for everything from ACL tears to runners knee.
One piece of advice reviewers had for new purchasers is if between sizes, go with the smaller size to be sure you receive adequate protection and compression.
6. FreezeSleeve Cold Therapy
An entirely different type of sleeve, this one bears mention for those experiencing knee pain and discomfort. The FreezeSleeve waits patiently for you in your freezer. Post workout, you slide it on for a perfect combination of cold therapy and compression.
At $50-70 it is not an inexpensive product; however, according to reviewers, it is well worth a try.
Caring for your Knee Sleeve
The primary complaint around the knee sleeve is that it can get sweaty and start to smell badly. This can be avoided through few tactics.
First, never throw your knee sleeve into a workout bag and leave it there until the next workout. Just like the rest of your gear, it needs to be washed and air dried.
Many knee sleeve companies advise you to turn your sleeve inside out to air dry between uses. This is because the sweating is happening on the inside and the fabric is likely to hold that moisture and bacteria in. Inverting the sleeve will aid in drying.
A knee sleeve can be hand washed or rinsed, then either lain flat or hanged to dry between wearings. Periodically, it can be washed with a sport laundry detergent. Some knee sleeves can be washed on delicate cycle in your washing machine. Check for laundering instructions on your sleeve.
What if Things Do Not Improve?
If wearing a knee sleeve takes care of your pain and/or discomfort, great! If it does not, you may have a bigger problem on your hands.
One of the important things about any type of pain is to know when to call in a professional. If your knee pain gets worse, or if you find yourself having to compensate by running differently, you should see a physician.
Preventing Runner’s Knee
Pain around the knee area is commonly called runner’s knee. You can not always prevent injury, but there are things you can do to put yourself in the best possible situation to stay healthy.
- Replace shoes regularly
- Wear shoes that are conducive to your body and how you run
- Wear shoes appropriate for the kind of running you are doing (trail shoes for trails, etc.)
- Cross-train (including non-impact training), especially if experiencing pain
- Weight train to build stability
- Perform exercises to keep your knees healthy regularly
Exercises That Promote Knee Health in Runners
According to Runner’s World Magazine, there are six basic exercises that will keep your knees healthy.
- Jump Squats
- Walking Lunges
- Low Side to Side Lunges
- Mountain Climbers
- Lateral Band Walks
- Reverse Hip Raises
Wrapping it Up (The blog and your knee both!)
Knee sleeves can help runners keep logging mileage during pain and injury. Of course, you should never just “put a bandaid” on a problem without proper focus on injury prevention as well as recovery.
Assuming you are doing everything you can to rehabilitate a knee to keep your body healthy, a knee sleeve could be just what the doctor ordered in the interim!
Run happy, folks!
Exercises for Knee Health