September 08, 2021 9 min read

How many days does it take you to recover after leg day?  One, two, five?And, do you feel an excessive amount of knee pain after leg day, particularly after doing squats?While it is normal to take several days to recover from leg day, it isn’t normal or healthy to have serious knee pain.

Enter knee sleeves!

Using a knee sleeve can help speed up recovery time and alleviate knee pain after leg day.  Sleeves are so effective that they are widely used in Olympic weightlifting and powerlifting.

Knee sleeves are made out of a compressive material that creates a warming sensation in your knee.  You slide it over your knee cap before doing squats.  They are not the same as knee wraps or knee braces! Want in? 

We got you covered! In this buyer’s guide, we are sharing all the details on knee sleeves and which ones we recommend you try out. Once you give knee sleeves a try, you won’t ever do another squat without one! Here’s everything you need to know about knee sleeves, including which ones we recommend for you!

Top Benefits of Using a Knee Sleeve For Squats

Regardless of how good a squatter you think you are or what fitness level you are at, you can always improve your squats in one way or another!

If powerlifters and bodybuilders use knee sleeves, then wouldn't you at least consider using one?

powerlifter legs in gym chalk and knee sleeves competition deadlift

Why do so many fitness pros swear by using knee sleeves? Probably because of the top benefits of using them! Here are just a few of those benefits:

1. Improved squat technique

Do you think you already have solid squat technique? Whether you do or you don't, you can always improve it. Using a knee sleeve can help you do just that!Knee sleeves promote joint alignment during squats. That way, your knee joint is less likely to suddenly slip out of place under the burden of heavy weights. Form and technique can always be improved... and a knee sleeve can help you do that!

2. Knee support

Knee sleeves provide some level of knee support by putting pressure on the knee joint. They don't provide as much support as knee wraps, but they still do have some support benefits nonetheless.  With better support, the odds that you develop a knee injury reduce.

3. Faster knee recovery time and pain relief

The primary reason why lifters wear knee sleeves is because they promote faster and better knee recovery while alleviating pain.The pressure from the tight sleeve works to increase blood flow to the knee joint.  The extra blood helps reduce swelling and knee pain that usually comes after doing squats. With less swelling and pain, you recover faster. And, who doesn't love to feel normal sooner after leg day?  

What Makes a Knee Sleeve High Quality?

The main purpose of a knee sleeve is to speed up recovery times after doing squats.  The more effective a knee sleeve is at doing that, the higher quality it is!But, there is more to quality than just that.  At the same time, you want the knee sleeve to be comfortable, durable, and last for many years to come.Moreover, here are some of the factors that make a knee sleeve top quality:

1. Compression level

The whole point of wearing a knee sleeve is to create compression around your knee.  If you have too little, it won’t do its job.  Or, if you have too much, it will choke your knee out!  Therefore, you want to pick one out with an ideal level of compression.  How thick a sleeve is will determine how much compression it gives.  In many cases, 7mm thickness provides an ideal amount of compression.

2. Made out of comfortable and breathable material

While you certainly want to get enough compression from your knee sleeve, you also want it to be comfortable and breathable.  Sleeves made out of materials like neoprene are usually the best!  Neoprene provides comfort while still holding sturdy around your knee.

3. Versatility

This buyer’s guide is all about the best knee sleeves for squats.  However, it doesn’t hurt to have a knee sleeve that is also designed for other exercises and workouts.  Some knee sleeves are built for squats, CrossFit, and climbing!  It’s an added benefit if your knee sleeve is versatile to work for several activities!

4. Extra features

How much technology can you possibly expect from a simple knee sleeve?  Well, at least some!  Many knee sleeves are now outfitted with unique technologies like heating and cooling effects.  The temperature effect promotes even more effective knee recovery.  Why not go for a knee sleeve with perks like this?

Here Are Our Top Knee Sleeve Picks

Now without further ado, here are our top knee sleeve picks in no particular order.

strong powerlifter training in gym

You can purchase each of these and double check price on either Amazon or their official website!

1. Bear KompleX Compression Knee Sleeve

The Bear Komplex Knee Sleeve is an ideal knee sleeve for beginner squaters.  It is made out of a rubber material that is quite flexible and allows you to get your full range of motion during a squat.  Also, you can choose from either a 5mm or 7mm thickness level.

While flexible rubber is great for beginner lifters, it isn't ideal for heavy squat weights and lifters who need maximum support.  Also, some reviewers say that the durability of the sleeve is lacking. However, if you are a beginner looking for a comfortable wrap at a reasonable price, then the Bear KompleX is a great option.  

Online price: $55.98

Pros:

  • Ideal for squatting, CrossFit, and running
  • Option for 7mm or 5mm thickness
  • Comes in 5 different sizes

Cons:

  • Synthetic rubber isn't the most comfortable material or durable

Here is what one online customer has to say about the Bear KompleX Knee Sleeve:

"These sleeves are the bomb. I was very skeptical when some of the guys I work out with told me I need to get a pair to help with the knee issues I was having. End result.... I will always own a pair of these. I have finally been able to squat and run like before. These are definitely worth the price and the quality and construction is excellent."

2. Nordic Lifting Knee Sleeve

The Nordic Lifting Knee Sleeve is a strong knee sleeve made out of high-quality neoprene.  They are thicker and bulkier than other knee sleeves in order to provide a maximum amount of knee protection for heavy duty lifters.Additionally, they sleeves are designed to improve athletic performance by strengthening the knee joints.  Considering that these sleeves are beloved by weightlifters, maybe they really do help improve performance!

Online price: $39.99

Pros:

  • Very affordable
  • Made out of a high-end neoprene material
  • Ideal knee sleeves for powerlifting

Cons:

  • Bulky and thick neoprene material is not very comfortable
  • Some reviewers report air pockets

Here is what one online customer has to say about the Nordic Lifting Knee Sleeve:

"I have been diagnosed with early arthritis in my knees. I've had issues with knee pain during, and particularly after exercise. These knee pads support my patella well, and supply warmth and compression all over my knees, allowing me to exercise without pain or swelling. I have gotten my squat weights up, not because the sleeves assist in the lift, but because I don't fear knee pain. I can also play pickleball with no fear of soreness after either."

3. Slingshot STrong Knee Sleeves by Mark Bell

The Slingshot Knee sleeves by Mark Bell are another excellent neoprene knee sleeve option.  According to the SlingShot website, these knee sleeves are designed with a special "slingshot" technology to help you rebound harder out of the bottom of a squat. 

This kind of technology is similar to that of a knee wrap and is rarely seen in a sleeve. If you don't like a very stiff sleeve, then these aren't for you!  However, if you want a knee sleeve that is super stiff to help give you a substantial amount of support and protection, then these are for you!

Online price: $80

Pros:

  • Ideal for experienced lifters and powerlifters
  • USPA approved
  • Improves athletic performance by boosting you out of the squat position

Cons:

  • Pricier than other knee sleeve options
  • Not ideal for beginner level lifters

Here is what one online customer has to say about the Slingshot STrong Knee Sleeve by Mark Bell:

"These are great! They are SNUG....you need to measure your knees carefully as instructed. I can finally squat heavy weights again without constant worry about blowing out a knee. Worth. Every. Penny. Buy them."

4. Rogue Fitness Rehband RX 7mm Knee Sleeve

It's not a real buyer's guide without including a product from Rogue Fitness!  And, the Rogue Rehband RX 7mm Knee Sleeves do not disappoint!The Rehband knee sleeves check all of our necessary boxes and more!  They are made out of neoprene and have a polyamide lining. 

This combination provides plenty of knee support and compression.  At the same time, they do not inhibit mobility.  You get the double benefit of having plenty of support, but still can easily reach your full range of motion.We highly recommend the Rogue Fitness sleeves!

Online price: $44

Pros:

  • Provide some rebound out of the squat
  • Form-fitting on the knee - no air pockets!
  • Great support while still being flexible

Cons:

  • Only comes with one sleeve

Here is what one online customer has to say about the Rogue Fitness Rehband RX Knee Sleeve:

"The Rehband 7051's are pricey, but well worth the investment. They provide great support and warmth for the knees; which really helps your knees over the long haul. In addition, they provide a slight rebound effect at the bottom of your squat, but not too much to where it's overcompensating your true strength. My only suggestion is to buy one size down because the sizing chart is a little generous, plus they will stretch over time through use."

5. Mava Sports Knee Sleeve

The Mava Sports Knee Sleeves fit like a glove!  The comfortable 7mm neoprene sleeves slide right onto your knee and sit comfortably without moving.  To make things even better, there is an adjustable strap on the sleeves to help them stay in place even better.

Unfortunately, this sleeve isn't competition approved, nor does it provide enough support for the most advanced lifters. If you want a basic beginner knee sleeve that provides solid support and protection, then opt for the Mava sleeve!

Online price: $35

Pros:

  • Cost-effective
  • Solid pick for beginner and intermediate lifters
  • One of the most comfortable and form-fitting sleeves
  • Comes in several color options

Cons:

  • Not ideal for the most advanced lifters

Here is what one online customer has to say about the Mava Sports Knee Sleeve:

"This product has been a lifesaver to me. I am close to having a knee replacement and with wearing this fantastic knee sleeve, I am hoping to put it off for a while. It may sound weird, but with this sleeve on it seems to hold my knee in place. I know at least 2 or 3 times this has helped to keep me from going down. I wear it all day. Yes, it fits snug, but I think it is supposed to. If you are undecided, go ahead and buy it. You WON'T be sorry."

6. SBD Knee Sleeve

The SBD Knee Sleeves might be our favorite option on this list.  Not only that, but they are one of the most popular sleeves among weightlifters and powerlifters!What makes them so popular?  First of all, the 7mm neoprene material is extremely tight, yet somehow comfortable on the knees. 

You get all of the support you need to lift the heaviest weights without feeling like your knees are suffocating.Additionally, they are crafted to last for many years.  Thanks to the reinforced seam construction, these sleeves should stand the test of time!

Online price: $82.50

Pros:

  • USPA approved
  • Very tight to stimulate maximum blood flow
  • Highly durable - these will stay in good shape forever

Cons:

  • Pricier than other knee sleeve options

Here is what one online customer has to say about the SBD Knee Sleeve:

"These sleeves are a big game changer for me. I had issues with left knee pain that kept me from progressing; these sleeves fixed that. I'm a bigger guy, so it wasn't easy finding anything that would fit until I found SBD (the 5x are perfect for me). I can't begin to explain how happy I am to have found these. Thanks for making such a high quality product!"

Final Thoughts on The Best Knee Sleeves For Squats

Knee pain is the kind of issue that can keep you out of the gym for months!  A simple way to prevent it is to invest in the right knee sleeve.With the right knee sleeve, you can continue to do squats without having to worry about injuries, pain, or improper technique. 

Regardless of your fitness level, you can totally benefit from a knee sleeve!Don’t waste anymore time. This is the sign that you’ve been waiting for to buy a knee sleeve!

Bonus tip: Squats are perhaps the best lower body compound exercise.  However, they are notorious for causing knee pain.  Thankfully, knee sleeves can help alleviate that pain, but they unfortunately can’t stop 100% of it.  Here is everything you need to know about squats and knee pain to further minimize post-squating pain!


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