Knee sleeves are an essential ingredient for keeping your knees safe and free from injury when running. Whether nursing an injured knee or taking steps to prevent one — you need information to select the best knee sleeves for running.
This guide will help you make the right choice to get the most out of your running and keep your knees healthy. You will discover the features runners enjoy and depend along with how to select the best knee sleeve for your needs and budget.
Qualities to Look for in Knee Sleeves for Running
Knee sleeves are used for many different purposes and each application has its own set of characteristics. Like other applications, the sleeves that work the best for running have their own characteristics.
After a few years of running with knee sleeves these are the qualities I insist on:
- Breathes well
- Gentle stretch
- Stays in position
- Doesn’t tend to roll
- Won’t bunch up behind your knee
- Easy to clean
Now, let’s go over each of these features to see why each is important.
When you are running, jogging, or walking you need a lot of flexibility for the entire length of the sleeve. Trying to run in neoprene sleeve used in gyms and weight lifting competitions is too binding.
You want a compression factor that helps to promote circulation in your knee without stabilizing it to the point of losing freedom of movement.
That’s why I prefer knit cloth knee sleeves over neoprene in all my activities that require a lot of movement.
Knee sleeves work by providing compression to the joint and areas above and below it. Among other things, the compression stimulates blood flow which warms your knee and leg.
The energized blood flow and warmth that follows often causes perspiration under the sleeve.
With a sleeve that breathes well, airflow is constantly helping to wick off the perspiration as it occurs.
Stretches While Maintaining Compression
Akin to staying flexible you will want a product with a slight stretch.
As a runner, I like support on and around my patella while I’m running, but gently stretching as my knee moves, twist, turns and bends.
The stretch is always where the compression factor is, so you want it to fit snug. However, if it’s too tight, you will cut off circulation and cause problems.
Compression sleeves need to feel like a nice hug on your knees.
I don’t really care for something on my knees that feels like a tightly wrapped Ace bandage. Instead, I need a knee sleeve that allows for plenty of movement with no interference as it stretches and contracts.
An important note: Knee Sleeves will usually pretty tight and snug when you first put them on, but stretch and become more comfortable as you run.
Stays in Position
Nothing worse than just about the time my body is getting free, relaxed, and hitting my stride, than a knee sleeve slipping down my leg.
There’s really no way for anyone to tell you how tight a knee sleeve should be because we are all different.
However, you want it to fit tight enough to stay where you put it without cutting off the circulation.
How to choose a sleeve that stays in place
- Select a premium sleeve with a good reputation
- Take the time to accurately read and understand the sizing chart
- Accurately measure your leg as per the manufacturers’ recommendations
Some knee sleeves are notorious for rolling down your leg.
While this is not a catastrophic event while running, it is aggravating.
Sometimes the problem is merely that they are merely too large. In that case, you will need to purchase a smaller size and remember that the material will soften and stretch out as you run.
On the other hand, it is always good to read the reviews and select a brand that people aren’t having that problem with.
Bunching up behind my knee is worse than rolling down my leg because when it bunches it tends to pinch and pull out hair behind my knee.
With knit and woven knee sleeves the problem can be with the brand or the sizing. I am going to show you below the brands that prove to be the most successful for my own running.
Easy to Clean
Most knee sleeves tend to get stinky and wet if you aren’t vigilant to keep them clean. And some are easier to clean than others.
Stick to the ones that are washable and have built-in immunity against the microbes and bacteria that cause the odors.
The knee is a difficult area in the body to ensure proper blood flow, so a knee sleeve can help recovery and healing time following an injury.
I Review My 3 Top Picks for Running
Copper Fit Pro Series Compression Knee Sleeve
Tommie Copper Knee Sleeve Features
- Infused with copper . The copper will help kill 99.9% of the microbes and bacteria that can make sleeves stinky along with the many health benefits of copper.
- The texture is soft and thin to prevent you from getting overheated when wearing the sleeve.
- The sleeve is nice and long. You may even think it’s too long, but the length helps to get the upper part of your calf involved to work as a blood pump.
- Fits nice and tight with a smooth and soft feel that immediately makes your knee feel good.
- This is a compression sleeve, not a knee brace. The compression factor helps to promote circulation in your leg and knee and has a great texture to it
- Tommie Copper Knee Sleeves have a silicone lining on the inside that helps keep it in place.
- Silicone bands for improved stability
- Comfortable and soft texture
- 85% polyester with infused copper and 15% spandex
- Machine washable
- People order knock offs that aren’t good (be sure and look for the gold circle on the knee cap area)
- You can’t second guess the sizing chart. People think it’s ok to fudge just a little, and it will be too small or too large
- If you have an allergy to silicone, Tommie Copper may not work for you
Bauerfeind Sports Knee Support
Bauerfeind Sports knee Support is the best knee sleeve I know of for runners. It’s expensive, but you are paying for years of built-in quality and high tech experience that is built into this knee sleeve.
Features I love about Bauerfeind Sports Sleeves
- Fits like a glove. Bauerfeind is anatomically shaped and manufactured to the same shape as your knee for comfort running, jogging, walking, or any other activity.
- Stays in Place. Along with the perfect fit to reduce slippage, the sleeve has gripping zones built into the front and back to prevent migration down your leg as you run.
- Unique kneecap stabilization for pain relief as it redistributes impact forces disperses pressure and gently massages your knee while running.
- Very soft and comfortable to wear knit material.
- Soft knit material
- Improved joint stability
- Lightweight, comfortable, very breathable, and moisture-wicking,
- Machine washable
- Choice of 3 colors
- Price point
UFlex Athletics Knee Compression Sleeve Support for Running
UFLEX Knee Sleeves are one of the most popular sleeves for running, jogging, walking, everyday relief from joint pain, arthritis, and recovery from injury. The price is right and it has an enormous amount of 5 star reviews on Amazon.
Features That Make UFLEX Knee Sleeves So Popular
- Great price for the superior quality of this sleeve
- Excellent compression factor
- Good breathability
- Two non-slip silicone grips to stop slipping and migration down your leg
- Comfortable to wear for hours
- Great stability and compression
- Quality material that is not bulky and fits well undergarments like jeans
- Breathable and won’t roll
If you don’t follow the sizing chart you will have problems with fit.
Here are the 4 main points to take into consideration when selecting knee sleeves you will use primarily for running:
- Specific to running, jogging or walking. There are plenty of knee sleeves designed for more hardcore physical activities. However, when it comes to runners choosing a lighter and less bulky sleeve will be more satisfactory.
- The correct size makes a difference. Manufacturers always include sizing charts and they can differ from one manufacturer to the other. Even if you aren’t a precise person most of the time, it’s vital that you carefully read the directions and measure precisely where the manufacturer states to measure.
- Washing. You’ll find some knee sleeves can’t be washed in a machine, some can’t be washed at all, some fall apart when washed machine or otherwise. Personally, I want a machine washable sleeve. Like any garment you wear over and over, your sleeves will start smelling like a locker room if not washed.
- Buy name brand sleeves. I’ve never had any luck with off brands and knock offs. The three sleeves I’ve listed above are my favorites for running, and every time I’ve tried to save money with imitations and knock offs, I wound up spending even more money by quickly replacing them with quality sleeves.
Selecting the best knee sleeve with the right fit will provide compression, support, and blood flow that you need when running. If you haven’t worn them before, you will be delighted with the results.