The 7 Best Knee Sleeves to Buy in 2018

Protect your joints while you work out with one of these picks

Those brightly colored knee sleeves sported by weightlifters at the gym—as well as your favorite athletes —aren’t just a flashy fashion statement. The bandage-like accessories are worn during exercise for a number of reasons, whether to stabilize the joints, protect the knee from injury or provide relief from arthritis and other pain.

The jury is still out on whether knee sleeves actually enhance performance. Some studies have found that they can improve joint positioning when exercising and alleviate discomfort, while others don’t show any benefits. Whatever the case, many athletes swear by the accessories. (This goes without saying, but if you’re experiencing knee pain, it’s best to talk with your doctor before self-treating with a knee sleeve.) Whether you’re looking to give knee sleeves a try for the first time or are in the market for a new pair, read on for some of the best buys for every type of athlete.

Best Compression: Mauwi Knee Sleeve

Knee sleeves that use compression fabrics may increase blood flow and aid recovery after exercise. The Mauwi Knee Sleeve is made from spandex, nylon, and latex to give a snug, supportive fit that can help with minor knee injuries and complications such as tendonitis, arthritis, and ACL and meniscus tears.

Reviewers say that the sleeve has helped keep them moving after knee surgery with one user saying that the product allowed them to climb stairs and drive during the recovery phase. And thanks to a supportive, ergonomic design, these sleeves won’t slide down, eliminating the frustration of having to yank slipped sleeves back into place.

Best for Arthritis: Mava Sports Knee Support Sleeves

If arthritis inflammation and joint stiffness slow you down—especially when you climb stairs, kneel or stand up after sitting—knee sleeves could be the answer. The Mava Sports product is designed for arthritis and joint pain relief but can also be used for cross training, weight lifting, gym workouts, and other physical activities.

Comfort is key for regular sleeve wearers, and one reviewer says that they wear the Mava Sports Knee Support Sleeves all day and hardly even notice that they are on. And for those with sensitive skin, the bamboo charcoal fiber material makes for an irritation-free product.

Best for Basketball: McDavid 6446 Hex Padded Compression Leg Sleeves

A padded sleeve can provide the knee with some protection against stray elbows or a fall onto the court, which is why you’ll see many basketball players in the McDavid sleeves. They feature cell foam padding and are made from moisture wicking fabric, which keeps the pads dry, cool, and stink-free. The longer length protects even more of the leg from cuts or scratches.

One reviewer of the McDavid padded knee sleeves say that the extra protection helps them feel more confident on the basketball court. However, many people do say that the sleeves run a tad small, so you might want to consider sizing up.

Best for Squats: Bear KompleX Knee Sleeves

Squats can take a toll on the knees, especially if you perform them with weights. Made from Neoprene, the Bear KompleX knee sleeves help take pressure off your joints when doing squats as well as power cleans, snatches, box jumps, lunges, and more by stimulating and supporting the muscles. They come in multiple colors and patterns—from solid black to a patriotic stars and stripes design—and some colorways are even reversible to reveal a whole new look.

Reviewers say that the Bear KompleX sleeves don’t budge at all at the bottom of squats and that the light compression keeps the knee joints warm, helping to avoid injury. When purchasing, you’ll have the option to choose between a 5mm or 7mm thickness. People who use the sleeves say that the thicker version may be better for weight training while the 5mm version is best for cardio.

Best for Lifting: Nordic Lifting Knee Sleeves

The right set of sleeves could help you take lifting to the next level. If you’re looking to keep your joints safe in the weights room, consider trying the Nordic Lifting Knee Sleeves. Made from a compression fabric, they can also be used for CrossFit training.

People who own the Nordic sleeves say that they like how thick the material is and that the sleeves are very comfortable to wear as well as durable (something that’s important if you hit the gym frequently). As a bonus, the Nordic Lifting sleeves come with a free one-year replacement guarantee.

Best for Running: Ultra Flex Athletics Knee Compression Sleeve Support

Knee pain and injuries can put the brakes on your pace—or cause you to stop running altogether—but knee sleeves, like the Ultra Flex Athletics Knee Compression Sleeve Support, may keep you on your feet. A silicon grip gel helps the sleeves stay in place during exercise and a fabric made from spandex, nylon, and latex guarantees a long lifespan.

The Ultra Flex Athletics sleeves promise to reduce inflammation and swelling and aid in recovery from runner’s knee as well as arthritis and tendonitis. And with almost 8,000 five-star reviews on Amazon, people who own the sleeves agree that they live up that promise. Many say that the product has helped them recover from knee problems and one says that it’s a “lifesaver on long runs.”

Best for Younger Athletes: CompressionZ Knee Sleeves for Kids

It’s never too early to start sporting knee sleeves, and for young runners, basketball players, cyclists and more, the CompressionZ sleeves are a great choice. The performance fabric keeps children warm in cold temperatures and cool when it’s hot out, and the flat-lock seams won’t chafe or irritate their more delicate skin. Plus, the 4-way stretch technology in the fabric keeps its shape and fit even after multiple washes.

The sleeves can help younger athletes recover from knee injuries or pain and make them more competitive on the field or court. People who bought the sleeves for their kids say that their children love wearing the gear and even spread the word to their teammates about how great the sleeves are!

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