Do Knee Sleeves Work or Not?

Watch a game of pro basketball these days and you see many of the players wearing knee sleeves. Go to the gym and see people weight lifting with sleeves on both knees. Head over to the local walking track, and you see them. In fact, knee sleeves are more popular by the month — because they work.

Don’t get me wrong, they are not miracle cures, and don’t guarantee you’ll be free from injury. They aren’t even knee braces with metal supports. You know the big, bulky, heavy devices you may have seen people wearing after knee replacement or surgery. No, you can wear most sleeves all day, and even under your clothing.

Could knee sleeves prevent knee replacement surgery
Protect your knees with knee sleeves while you can

However, they do definitely serve a purpose in the world of knees, one of the most vulnerable joints in the body. The truth is knees are so vulnerable that research indicates that as much as 1/4 of the US population over 60 now has at least one replacement knee joint. The thing is that I can assure you that 1/4 of the people in the US didn’t hurt their knees from regular exercise, either. Most of us simply don’t have the motivation for anything as healthy as that.

What Knee Sleeves Do

Add Support

The Tibia (that’s the shin bone) and the Femur ( the thigh bone) come together at the knee joint and depend on the joint for the flexibility it takes to stand, walk, run, etc. But the joint itself has no way to hold the upper and lower leg together. It takes muscles and tendons to hold them together. One reason knee sleeves work so well is that they wrap around those muscles and tendons and tend to hold everything in place as the joint endures countless twists and turns.

anatomy of the knee infographic
Knee sleeves work by providing support and stabilizing the knee joint

This is highly relevant if you are:

  • Playing sports that involves your knees withstanding abnormal work and pressure
  • Squatting and standing with enormous amounts of weight on your shoulders as weight lifters do
  • Have arthritic knees that are sore and painful
  • Dealing with painful or swollen knees from overuse or injuries

So, knee sleeves provide structural integrity to knees that otherwise be problematic.

Compression

What makes knee sleeves work at all is the compression factor. Prior to knee sleeves, most of know what an Ace Bandage is, right? Many times when a person sprained a wrist or an ankle a physician would advise them to apply an Ace Bandage to the area. The elasticity and the stretching and wrapping it around the joint applies compression to the muscles, tendons, and ligaments.

Knee sleeves work the same way with knees, only more efficiently and easier to apply and remove.

woman with knee sleeve for compression
Knee Sleeve compression works to increase blood circulation, provide support, stability, pain relief, and protection from injury

The compression:

  • Increases blood circulation
  • The increased circulation provides warmth to the joint, the synovial fluid that lubricates it, and the muscles that hold it together.
  • Ever heard of warming up prior to running a race, playing football, or pitching a game of baseball. Without warming up the muscles before stressing them you are highly likely to tear or stretch something that causes pain and injury.
  • Knee sleeves keep knees warm to avoid that injury, aid in injury recovery and working smoothly.
  • They hold everything in place. Knees are constantly subjected to irregular twist and turns, especially when involved in athletics. Sleeves keep the patella (that is a knee cap) firmly in place along with all the muscles that hold the leg bones in place.
  • Believe it or not, the gentle compression can alleviate a lot of painful and sore knee issues. I have one knee with arthritis that hates to spend a lot of time standing, and shouts out at me if I walk or run. But, with a sleeve, I can run, walk, and even spend a day following my wife through the mall.

I certainly do not recommend wearing them instead of seeking medical attention, but they are great for pain relief in many instances. Knee sleeves for arthritis can bring relief to people with discomfort from injuries, arthritis, and strains for sure. They are designed to add stability to knees which can help prevent many injuries and painful situations.

Many people take sore and painful knees as normal after standing on their feet all day at work, playing sports or participating in athletic events. They think there’s nothing to do but endure the pain? The thing is that if it’s not something that needs medical attention, a good knee sleeve could alleviate the discomfort from minor sprains and fatigue.

Do Knee Sleeves Help With Squats?

woman weight lifter with knee sleeves for squats
I know she’s not doing squats, but she is working with knee sleeves

Let’s face it: what could be harder on your knees than doing squats with a barbell and outrageous amounts of weight on it. Sleeves help with everything I’ve already mentioned, plus can help propel you out of the hole with a few more pounds than normal.

The act of squatting and standing with heavy weights can cause damage to your knees and is always stressing them to the limit. Sleeves keep the patella in place as you stand and keep everything warm to prevent soreness and injury.

What Are Knee Sleeves Made Of?

  • Cloth. cloth sleeves provide compression, warmth, stability for activities like running, walking, and sports of all kinds. They work well for arthritic knees, and physicians sometimes prescribe them for after surgeries.
  • Neoprene. Neoprene sleeves are more rigid than cloth and provide more of everything cloth does. You buy neoprene sleeves in different thicknesses I.e., 3mm, 5mm, and 7mm.

If you need more support and are not participating in athletic events the cloth sleeves are usually more comfortable for wearing all day than the neoprene. Sizing for the correct fit is highly important to supply the right amount of compression. Walkers and runners rely on moderate compression, whereas weightlifters often buy smaller sizes than they need to increase the compression.

Summary

Yes, knee sleeves work to provide gentle or harsher compression (depending on the use) to one of the most vulnerable joints in the human body. The compression can make walking on sore or injured joints much more pleasant, and sometimes even allow you to be mobile when you weren’t before.

They can help protect your knees from injury in high-stress situations and make standing on your feet all day at work easier on your entire body. So, I would say yes they work for what they are designed to do.

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