What Do Knee Sleeves Do?

Wondering if knee sleeves are for real or if they really do anything? Well, the truth is that knee sleeves can not only help prevent knee injuries, but they can also go a long way towards helping people walk on damaged knees.

What Do Knee Sleeves Do?

  1. Provide enhanced knee support
  2. Minimize stress on knee caps during active use
  3. Stabilize and support weaker knee joints
  4. Provide warmth and improved circulation for healing and exercise recovery

Let’s take a closer look at each of these to see what knee sleeves do to aide in each of the above scenarios.

1. Provide Enhanced Knee Support

There are a couple of different applications for wearing knee sleeves when a little extra support can go a long way:

Powerlifting and squats with heavy weights

Powerlifters and weightlifters in particular use stiff and somewhat rigid knee sleeves when training and often in competitions to stabilize the knee joints while under heavy loads.

Face it, your knees were specifically designed to carry the weight of your upper body. When you load them with the extraordinary amounts of weight involved in weight lifting — the stress is tremendous.

Among other benefits, compression knee sleeves help support the knee by holding knee joints, muscles, tendons, and ligaments in line and maintain the support needed to avoid injury.

This added support is a great advantage to keeping your knees safe when involved in doing squats, snatch, and the clean and jerk.

Weakened and arthritic knees

Injured, arthritic, and knees recovering from exercise are usually sore and create a sensation of being unstable.

The compression and gentle tightness of knee sleeves provide much needed support and confidence that knees won’t buckle under the strain of your weight.

They will provide a much sturdier on your feet with the added assistance from sleeves with sore, weak, or arthritic knees.

2. Minimize Stress on Knee Caps During Active Use

One of the major problems athletes face in their career is having to deal with knee injuries. Torn cartilage, blown ACLs, MCLs, and PCLs can make athletes stop doing what they love for long periods of time to recover from injuries.

Knee sleeves hold the patella — kneecap — in place during any active use that’s putting stress on your knees.

Whether you’re running, playing basketball, soccer, CrossFit, powerlifting, or bodybuilding you want to limit the patella movement to avoid injury.

Compression sleeves are mechanical supports for knee joints designed to hold the knee cap in place and add an extra layer of protection as it is put through many abnormal and stressful movements.

3.  Stabilize and Support Weaker Knee Joints

Knee sleeves take the worry out of possible knee injuries when you’re putting extra stress on them during exercise or competition of any kind.

Knees are the most vulnerable joint we have even with no extra stress involved. They not only bear our body weight, but must endure the constant twisting and turning motions from normal walking and movement.

When we add sports and exercise to the mix the risk of injury multiplies many times.

Whether you’re engaged in any sports, workout, or exercise activities with weak or injured knees, compression sleeves can definitely help stabilize and support your legs and body.

Not only that bu the added support will give you a heightened sense of balance even on injured knees.

4.  Provide Warmth and Improved Circulation for Healing and Exercise Recovery

Compression knee sleeves tend to cause added blood circulation to the area which in turn warms your knee joints.

This added blood circulation and warmth

  • Helps the healing process
  • Speeds recovery time from working out and exercise
  • Aides in keeping the joints lubricated

An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure Benjamin Franklin

Knee injuries are the most prevalent injuries among athletes in most sports.

Unfortunately, sometimes athletes may never be able to play again if their injuries are not handled and treated properly and given enough recovery time.

That is why athletes and sports and fitness enthusiasts think of ways they can prevent injuries from happening. One common solution is to wear a hard brace for injury prevention; however, hard braces have a number of disadvantages.

They limit knee mobility along with preventing joints from becoming stronger. That is why, for athletes who want to protect themselves from knee injuries without compromise, wearing knee sleeves is often their best option.

The best sleeves are anatomically shaped to prevent injuries and provide a comfortable and pleasing fit.  You’ll find them great for all seasons, wet or dry, and used both indoors and outdoors.

Depending on the brand and model you choose, most are designed for specific uses, such as recovery and rehab, running, walking, hiking, weight lifting, bicycling, basketball, and more.

Sleeves Aren’t Braces

what do knee sleeves do

Why are knee sleeves different from knee braces?

Because knee braces have holes for the kneecap and are reinforced with metal, while knee sleeves are often made of neoprene and do not have any metal elements.

Knee sleeves are used to protect the knee from risks of being damaged and from any future injuries.

The protection that they can provide is phenomenal and very important for knees that are frequently put under pressure, such as when running, jumping, and doing some heavy lifting.

But the truth is that you don’t have to be an athlete at all to benefit from wearing knee sleeves!

If you suffer from arthritic knees, good sleeves can really make a difference when you’re walking for exercise, or even on a trip to the mall.

I walk several miles every day for exercise — with one knee with arthritis.

Before I started wearing a sleeve, that joint stayed sore most of the time.

Sometimes during my routine walks, it would feel like it may give way any time.

No more! I was amazed at the difference in soreness after the walk, and how much stronger my knee felt during and after my walks.

If you’re suffering from arthritis in your knee joints, this post may give you a little insight into the problem and the relief: Do Knee Sleeves Help With Arthritis?

Functions of Knee Sleeves

Knee sleeves are used to reduce pain and they specifically add warmth to the knee joints and limit the movement of the patella. They can also increase proprioception, which is the central nervous system’s capacity to feel the position of a joint in space.

One of the most important functions of knee sleeves is that they add an invaluable compression element, which helps reduce pain during and after exercise, by increasing blood flow in the body.

Compression is very critical because a compressed knee encourages blood flow through the blood vessels of the knee. To put it simply, compression and blood flow lead to better recovery and less pain and swelling while exercising and even after.

It should be noted, though, that knee sleeves do not provide the same ligament support that knee braces do. So, if you have an unstable knee and you need something to help with stability, knee sleeves may help but they may not be enough so it is always best to consult a specialist.

When Should You Use Knee Sleeves?

Knee sleeves are best worn during workouts as they can provide a lot of benefits. They can be your perfect partner when running, jumping, weightlifting, or doing some deadlifts or squats. They can definitely contribute to a safer and longer performance and at the same time, prevent soreness after the workout.

But, not all weight lifting exercises will require you to wear knee sleeves. For instance, if the knee is not used as the primary lifting source, then wearing knee sleeves is not necessary. However, they provide the support needed to effectively perform squat jumps, air squats, snatches, double unders, clean and jerks, as well as sprints.

For those who are just starting to lift weights, knee sleeves are also not required so that they can become accustomed to the movements without using anything. It is better to focus on the movements and techniques first before pushing the weights straight off the bat.

Once the lifting becomes more frequent and serious, knee sleeves will also become a necessity to protect the knees from wear and tear. Just keep in mind that the purpose of knee sleeves is to help protect and prevent injuries, and not to help with lifting more weights.

Since knee sleeves are known to provide warmth to the knees and to the leg area, wearing them during the cold months is also recommended to get the joints lubricated and warmed up. Wearing sleeves will also allow the blood to flow more efficiently.

Some people can also benefit from wearing knee sleeves even when they are not working out or lifting weights.

As mentioned earlier, wearing them can promote better blood flow so there is nothing wrong with wearing them while you do your regular daily activities.

Those who have suffered knee injuries in the past or have some concern with their knees can benefit from wearing knee sleeves even outside the gym.


Remember that there is a greater risk of damaging the knees when they are left weak and vulnerable. When that happens, the damage can be long term, which is bad news, especially for competitive athletes.

Although knee sleeves are not a requirement, they can be very useful and helpful for athletes and fitness enthusiasts.

But of course, the need is still determined by each individual’s condition, personal circumstances, and workout routines. Knee sleeves will always be beneficial, provided that they are used for the right reasons.

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