The Best Knee Sleeves For Running, Weightlifting and CrossFit

If you’re a fan of running, weightlifting, crossfit or pretty much any other activity that puts strain on your knees, then I have news for you.

Damage to the cartilage or tendants in your knee is forever. Yes, you may recover, but your knee will never be the same again. Speak to anyone who has had a full or partial ACL or MCL tear ever... 

This is why you’ve seen many of your favorite athletes wearing cool looking gear around their knees. They understand the importance of protecting this joint, and so should you!

Unfortunately, there are so many knee sleeves on the market, that finding one designed for the activity you want to do is no simple task.

But thats why you're reading this right?

For those of you partaking in activities such as running, weightlifting, crossfit, and especially squats,  then I am going to help you find the perfect knee sleeve for your activity of choice, and take your workout from mediocre to epic. 

If you regularly perform deadlift exercises, click here to choose the best deadlift shoes for yourself.

What is a knee sleeve and what does it do for you?

A knee sleeve is generally made from neoprene (a stretchy, rubbery fabric) and slides over the knee. It compresses the knee which in turn increases blood flow and reduces pain during and after the workout.

Do not confuse it with a knee brace, or a knee wrap for that matter.

  • Knee braces are for pre-existing injuries
  • Knee wraps are for serious, olympic style powerlifting
  • Knee sleeves are for support, comfort and preventing injuries

If you want to read more about the differences, I wrote an in-depth guide discussing exactly which type you should wear. Anyways, back to knee sleeves.

Let's take a look at the key benefits to wearing knee sleeves:

Reduces injury risk

If you use a quality knee sleeves, you greatly reduce the risk off injury. This is especially true for running, as well as light to medium weightlifting, which typically also includes crossfit. The compression of the sleeve keeps the joints in the right place, making it less likely for a tear to occur.

Improves recovery during and after your workout

The compression doesn't only serve to keep your joints in place, but also to improve blood flow. This improves your recovery during as well as post-workout.

Reduces pain and limits swelling

Swelling is a problem endurance athletes like long distance runners face. Getting a knee sleeve designed for runners will limit swelling and therefore reduce pain.

Choosing the correct knee sleeve

The next question in your mind should be: "Ok, now help me choose the right knee sleeve for my activity!" Well, I aim to please. If you just want to take my word for it, and don't feel like reading anymore, that's OK, just scroll down and select the knee sleeve based on your activity.

The best knee sleeve by type of activity

If you are physically active at all, chances are you can benefit from the use of knee sleeves in your day to day workout routine. It’s important that you purchase the right knee sleeve for the activity or activities you do most often.

If you’re a weightlifter, the sleeve you will need is different from one that a jumper or a person that performs squats would purchase. Being informed about what factors to look out for is the first step. Let’s look at some of the best knee sleeves reviews for weightlifting, crossfit and running or sports.

Best Premium Option for Weightlifting: 
Rehand 7751 Knee Sleeves 

Rehand Knee Sleeves are a great product in general, but this product comes with a bonus of a backpack. Similar to Rehband 7mm knee sleeves, you will want to go a size smaller if you have an average sized quad.

This knee sleeve provides ample support for the knee and aids in increased circulation for faster recovery time. Once again, this brand is a fan favorite among those that perform squats, but also among those that are active in Powerlifting, and Strongman. It is approved for open competition as well.

This knee sleeve comes in many different colors for those that like to look stylish while working out. It even comes with a backpack!

The only downside, it is quite pricey , but well worth it.

Best Budget Option for Weightlifting: 
Nordic Lifting Knee Sleeves

The Nordic Lifting brand is well known for their protective gym gear. This brand offers premium knee sleeves for weight lifting and squats.

You will get high performance and comfortable feeling wearing the knee sleeve. Additionally, this pair is available for both men and women. 

These are also the knee sleeves I own!

The design is perfect for protect and promote muscle recovery and injury protection. You will always get a comfortable and safe feeling because of the pair.

With the pair of knee sleeves, you do not need to worry about any activity in the gym, except if its on the treadmill. These knee sleeves are too thick for running in comfortably.

Question: What's the benefit of a thick pair of sleeves like this then?  
Answer: Your knees will remain more protected from any injury risk. 

Nordic even offers a one-year replacement guarantee for their product! You can find the lowest current price on Amazon by clicking here.

Best option for Crossfit: 
Rehband 5mm Knee Sleeve for Crossfit

If you want to do light to medium high rep squats or weightlifting, a thinner sleeve than the Nordic is needed. The benefit of a thinner sleeve is you will also be able to run with it. The Rehband 5 mm will support and protect your knees adequately for most of your Crossfit activities.

This knee sleeve will help you to increase your lifting performance and sooth any recovery pains.

As far as quality assurance, the IPF and IWF have approved the Rehband 5mm for athletics . As a result, we can expect a good performance.

The knee sleeves are durable, flexible and comfortable to wear. You can do almost every workout using the sleeves. Moreover, they will never slide down when you are performing the workout.

The only downside, they only come in black, buy it here on Amazon..

Best Compression Sleeve for Running: 
Mava Sports Knee Support Sleeves

People that partake in running or basketball will love the flexibility and comfort of Mava's sport sleeves. They are available in four different colors

These sleeves also provide added comfort for the back of the knee and enhances the mobility of the knee for those that participate in sports that require you to be mobile. For example, if you enjoy playing basketball, you may select this brand over others since it provides added mobility.

These can also be used for crossfit training which does not focus on heavy lifts, as they are too thin to give support during hardcore squatting and deadlifting.

The best part: They are super cheap! Check the price on Amazon here.

Still not sure? Did you forget that:

1. Knee Support During Weightlifting Is Important

For those that weightlift often, wearing knee sleeves during this operation is critical. While lifting heavy amounts of weight, the kneecap is grinding onto itself. This may eventually cause tendonitis. While knee sleeves do not completely take away the risk of tendonitis, it does help provide support for exercises that involve weights and the knees, such as squats.

2. Compression Supports Blood Flow And Prevent Soreness

While some knee sleeves are made of cloth, they are typically made out of neoprene material which makes it easy to glide over the knee. Because of the neoprene material, knee sleeves also offer the benefits of compression workout gear. In addition to adding support to prevent damage to the knee, knee sleeves also help increase blood flow and reduce pain. Experts recommend wearing compression sleeves to manage swelling of the joints after intense workouts.

The compression quality of knee sleeves may help evenly distribute synovial fluid. Synovial fluid helps “lubricate” the joints preventing soreness and swelling. They also aid in recovery time since compression gear stimulates blood flow.

People that enjoy CrossFit, basketball and running also will reap the benefits of knee compression sleeves.Knee sleeves are even beneficial when in cold weather. Because the knee sleeves fit snug on the knee, they provide warmth and help the joints stay lubricated. This also aids in blood flow and helps recovery. This is particularly useful for those that enjoy working out outdoors during the colder months.

3. Knee Sleeves Prevent Runner And Jumper’s Knee

Runners may prevent runner’s knee by using a knee sleeve on a regular basis. Runner’s knee may occur when there is knee swelling and pain that is a result of an imbalance between the function of the inner leg muscles and quadriceps.

For runners, unlike lifters, a quality knee sleeve may help support the knee even if there was a prior injury. A similar process happens with jumpers and lifters. Use of knee sleeves may prevent jumper’s knee or Patellar tendonitis. 

This is very similar to runner’s knee but is called jumper’s knee because this particular injury is seen more in athletes that jump. Weightlifters probably benefit from knee sleeves the most. 

The weight put on the knees from squatting with weights is stressful for the knees and could damage the knee without the support of a knee sleeve or brace. For lifters, a knee brace works better to provide protection against injury if an injury has already occurred.

4. These Also Up Recovery Time On Rest Days

These cool looking pieces of workout gear can also be used during your rest days. Since they help aid in recovery, they can contribute to increasing blood flow on days away from the gym.

This fact becomes extremely helpful if you’re experiencing a little pain in your knee. The increase of blood flow will help speed up recovery time. You could wear them around the house or as you’re doing daily activities like making a trip to the grocery store.

Some Final Thoughts

There are a few things to consider when purchasing a knee sleeve. One thing to consider is what activity or activities you will participate in most frequently.

Think about other needs such as prior injury and comfort ability as well. If you prefer less pressure on the knee, you could opt for a knee sleeve that has an open knee or has less thickness.

For activities that require more support, you should opt for the more common closed and thicker knee options with built in stability or compression. Extra compression is also needed for those that have already experience damage to the knee.

No matter what workout option you enjoy most often, a knee sleeve may help give you added support and comfort.

For those that weight lift, it’s important that you find a knee sleeve that provides the best support a knee sleeve can offer for weight lifting. This also applies to those that run, jump or play supports that puts extra stress on the knees.

Another advantages to knee sleeves is that they also give you all the ​benefits  associated with compression gear.

This means they are versatile, and anyone can benefit from the use of knee sleeves even if it is just while doing day to day activities.