Brooke Maneval, LAT, ATC
Certified Athletic Trainer
Written by Robert Gore
Last Updated: October, 2022
Finding the Best Knee Sleeve - A Buyer's Guide
Knee compression sleeves are an ideal and cost-effective knee protection option to protect the knee during sports activities and to help with recovery. They work in a number of ways from supporting the knee when running to providing warmth and removing moisture away from the knee after sweating. Knee sleeves are made with different types of material which provide varying levels of support and protection for the knee joint.
Compression Knee Sleeves
Patella Knee Braces
Weightlifting Knee Sleeves
Best Types of Knee SleeveCompression Knee Sleeve With Compression Knee Sleeves you have many different choices available, you will need to do a bit of research to match the right knee sleeve to your specific needs. We have listed the common types of knee braces that are available below so you can understand the differences between them.
- Prophylactic Knee Sleeve– This type of knee sleeve is designed to protect the ACL, PCL and LCL. If you’ve ever gotten injured playing sports, this is the brace that can help you support your knee the way it needs to be. This brace is not designed to be worn during games because the limited movement will reduce your performance. They are often worn during practices and then taken off when it is game time. Many athletes wear this type of brace when they are working out and conditioning. The majority of prophylactic knee sleeves utilize unilateral and bilateral bars and hinges to provide that support.
- Functional Knee Brace – Functional knee sleeves are popular for helping to stabilize the knee while it is in the healing and recovery process. The type of functional knee brace will depend on the degree of injury the person has sustained. In general, if the injury is mild to moderate you could use a sleeve that is constructed from neoprene with hinges on the side for extra support. If the injury is more serious, you might need a brace that has a metal frame and hinges. The purpose of a functional knee brace is to provide firm support and stability when the user is twisting, pivoting, running or jumping.
- Rehabilitative Knee Brace – If you’re in rehabilitation for a sports injury or you are recovering from surgery, a rehabilitative knee brace is a good choice for you. This type of knee brace will limit your knee’s movement so it can heal and recover properly. This type of brace, when combined with therapy is believed to be a good foundation for healing and recovery. In general, one can expect to wear this brace for 6-8 weeks following surgery. For additional comfort, they have liners that are around the thigh, calf, and knee that are made of foam. The stiff, adjustable bars on the sides hold the knee in place and are secured with straps. It is easily taken off to check the progress of the knee.
Knee Sleeves for RunningEven though there are typically four categories of knee sleeves, there are many different models within those categories. It is beneficial to you to understand the differences and how they work so you can match your particular needs to the sleeve that best fits it. We’ve listed them below.
Knee Sleeves for Men and Women
- Rehabilitative Knee Brace (ACL Brace)– If you’re in rehabilitation for a sports injury or you are recovering from surgery (such as an ACL reconstruction), a rehabilitative knee brace is a good choice for you. This type of knee brace will keep your knee from engaging in excessive rotation and add support to the knee so it can heal and recover properly. This type of brace, when combined with therapy is believed to be a good foundation for healing and recovery. Depending on your specific injury, a brace like this may be needed for 6-8 weeks after surgery, or up to 1-2 years while participating in sports that involve running, jumping, and cutting. For additional comfort, they have liners that are around the thigh, calf, and knee that are made of foam. The stiff, adjustable bars on the sides hold the knee in place and are secured with straps. It is easily taken off to check the progress of the knee. They are typically custom-made to fit each individual person.
- Patellofemoral Sleeve – Many people struggle with poor patellar tracking, which causes pain in the front of the knee or patella (also known as the knee cap). This can be caused by an imbalance of musculature surrounding the knee, congenital structure of the knee, or an injury. A patellofemoral brace has a hole at the kneecap and helps stabilize the knee cap in the correct position during extension and flexion of the knee joint so it tracks properly.
- Neoprene Sleeves – This is the most basic of all the knee sleeves and is actually the type that offers the least amount of support to users’ knees. This slip-on sleeve is made of breathable and moisture-wicking neoprene. It keeps heat surrounding the knee which is great for reducing inflammation and swelling of the knee. This type of knee sleeve is best for people who want a little extra support, experience minimal swelling and pain, or want to build knee confidence.
- Knee Immobilizer – If you have had surgery or an injury of the knee, a knee immobilizer may be best. This brace goes from the calf to the upper thigh. There is a plate that is located behind the knee that also runs from thigh to calf to prevent flexion of the knee, Each side is stabilized with plates that protect the ligaments. This type of brace is often worn for 4-8 weeks after surgery.
There are many different reasons you may need a knee sleeve; from preventing injuries to an already weak knee to reducing pain. More than likely you will need a specific type of knee brace for your particular needs. Once you have determined exactly what those needs are, you can begin to search through the different choices available.
Knowing how to narrow the selection field will help make the choice that much easier. The right information provides you with the tools you need to eliminate the sleeves that won’t work for your specific injuries/needs. With the right tools, you can be confident that the choice you make will be the right one.
Best Athletic Knee Sleeve Availability
The best athletic knee sleeve comes in the following sizes S, M, L, XL, 2XL, 3XL, 4XL and 5XL.