8 Best Knee Sleeves to Support Every Squat and Sprint UK 2023

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8 Best Knee Sleeves to Support Every Squat and Sprint UK 2023

One of the most common sports injuries are knee injuries. From blown-out ACLs (ouch) and meniscus tears to irritating twinges, there's myriad ways you can experience pain or discomfort in your knees as an athlete. But the good news is there are also plenty of preventative measures that can help keep you fighting fit.

We know you don't need us to tell you about the importance of warming up, ensuring correct form and having a decent stretch at the end of your sesh — not to mention nailing your nutrition and recovery (more sleep, people). But did you know there's a nifty bit of kit that can offer support, protection and pain relief to your precarious patellas? We're talking, of course, about the veritable workhorse that is knee sleeves.

The best knee sleeves will keep your muscles and joints secure as you work out, plus help prevent injuries from sabotaging your fitness goals. Already feeling some tenderness or pain in your joints? Never fear — we've compiled a complete guide to knee sleeves, including what they're used for, when to wear them and the best pairs to buy now.

In a hurry? No sweat. Here are the best knee sleeves at a glance. Keep scrolling for the full list plus how and when to use them.

We're pretty sure you get the basic idea; knee sleeves are (you guessed it) sleeves you wear around your knees, designed to support and protect the knee joint.

'Knee sleeves are compression wraps, usually made of elastic and neoprene, that are worn around the knees,' says Firas Iskandarani, Gymbox's Master Trainer. 'They provide support to the knees by increasing blood flow to the area which allows the muscles around the joint to be “ready” faster and stay that way for longer.'

Knee sleeves are not to be confused with knee braces, which work to stabilise the joint and are typically used to provide support or limit movement while an injury heals. While knee sleeves do offer support, they're generally much more flexible, and also protect the knees from potential injury while allowing full range of motion.

The phrase 'small but mighty' very much applies when it comes to knee sleeves. Here's how they work and what they can do to boost your training:

From Bear Grip and Beast Gear to classic Gymreapers, we've rounded up the best knee sleeves to support you through every squat, sprint and squash game.

Keen for more info? Scroll down for expert advice on who should use knee sleeves, when and how to wear them, and what to look for when shopping.

These neoprene knee sleeves are designed to offer medium support and at 5mm are suitable for both weightlifting as well as HIIT-style workouts. They're the perfect blend of support and flexibility while still providing decent compression and warmth to the knee joint.

They also do not budge, and almost suction themselves onto your knees — weird, but impressive. Bear in mind these are sold separately, so if you want a pair you'll have to buy two. Also available in 7mm thickness if you need a more support.

These double-ply neoprene knee sleeves from Beast Gear are, at 30cm long, the maximum length allowed in competition, and as such provide the maximum amount of support you're going to find.

They stay put, are comfortable and tear resistant, and are crafted to offer ergonomic support to powerlifters and CrossFitters alike. Also available in 5mm thickness.

From the makers of our favourite lifting straps come a truly top quality set of neoprene knee sleeves. Yes, they're pricey, but they'll last you many years of lifting thanks to the fantastic construction, reinforced stitching and durable design.

The premium neoprene retains warmth while providing great protection to your joints, they slip on easily and give an even spread of compression. Ideal for those lifting heavier loads.

You know what you're getting with Gymshark — no-nonsense kit that delivers. And these knee sleeves are no exception. At 3mm they're better suited to general training or those who weight train intermittently.

Made with 10% nylon, they have decent flex while still offering support, compression and warmth. While you're there, chuck in a drop-arm tank so you can really look the part.

Looking for a breathable knee sleeve to keep you cool on the move? We're big fans of Bearhug compression knee sleeves, which are made from non-irritating bamboo fibres and stretchy nylon and spandex for a supreme fit.

Bamboo charcoal, said to help increase blood flow, is also in the mix, and they're generally just incredibly comfortable. Ideal for sports, skiing and running, or lighter lifting.

These neoprene numbers from BEAR GRIP fit snugly without being stiff or limiting movement too much, and thanks to the reinforced stitching are durable too. The thick neoprene has elasticated edges to stop the sleeves slipping or rolling down, and they're still comfortable after hours of wear.

This lightweight knee sleeve is ideally suited to running and jogging thanks to the flexible, four-way stretch fabric and breathability — no sweaty knee pits here.

The fabric is also anti-odour, but they will still require hand washing. Inside there are wavy silicone grips to keep the sleeve in place as you clock up the miles. Sold singly, so double up if you want both knees covered.

These 7mm neoprene knee sleeves have silicone grips to keep them firmly in place. The thick neoprene material is stretchy and supportive, they're well-made, plus they have a contoured design to ensure a snug fit. At 29cm long, they're among the largest on the market, offering broad compression on and around the joint.

Most athletes, from weightlifters and HIIT-enthusiasts to CrossFitters and footballers could benefit from wearing knee sleeves. Essentially, if you spend a lot of time running, jumping or lifting then knee sleeves are a good idea.

'The multiple features of knee sleeves could be relevant to many athletes in different endeavours, from the high-end competitor in weightlifting who wants extra help with their squats to the weekly squash player changing direction on an unforgiving wooden floor, and even to the casual golfer whose knees start to hurt after a long day walking around the course,' says Iskandarani.

Primarily, 'knee sleeves should be used if the knee is weak or vulnerable and may be at risk of damage, or if you're doing an exercise which places a lot of stress or pressure on the knee,' says Opara. 'General training and sports which require you to perform fast, sharp movements including running are known to put the knee joint under a lot of stress, but the increase in blood flow and warmth around that the knee sleeve provides will help alleviate any pain and swelling.'

For weightlifters specifically, your level will determine whether knee sleeves will benefit you. 'Using knee sleeves for heavy weight-bearing exercises such as squats and deadlifts, especially for intermediate to advanced lifters, will help hold the entire knee in place, limiting patella movement without restricting range of motion.

'But if you are fairly new to weightlifting, I wouldn’t spend the money on knee sleeves just yet if there is no discomfort. In fact, early stages of lifting can help strengthen the knee joint,' advises Opara.

As fashionable as they look, knee sleeves shouldn't be worn all the time. 'Like with any performance aid their use should be restricted to harder efforts so that they don’t become a crutch,' says Iskandarani. 'For those using them for sport they should still train for their sport without them, and for those whose sport is training (for example competitive weightlifters), they should spare their use for the heavier lifts when extra levels of performance are needed.'

The exception is if you're wearing knee sleeves to aid recovery. 'Knee sleeves can be worn during and after training, but also day-to-day, especially if there is still discomfort or inflammation after working out, says Opara.

Finding the correct knee sleeve fit is a bit of a Goldilocks affair — not too tight, not too loose. 'Knee sleeves should fit snuggly; you should definitely know they’re there and they’re not something you could just leave on all day. On the flip side they shouldn’t be so tight that they cause your feet or shins to start tingling or change colour,' says Iskandarani.

There is some wiggle room, says Opara, dependent on your activity: 'If your exercise has a variety of movements and you feel the knee sleeve is restrictive, it may be too tight. For exercises like squats and deadlifts where there is not much movement required at the knee, the tighter the better, for extra support — but it shouldn’t cut off circulation or pinch the skin.'

Knee sleeves come in multiple sizes, so check the size guide for the product you're buying. Most suggest you measure around the centre of your kneecap — do this using either a measuring tape or a piece of string you can then measure against a ruler or rigid tape measure.

When shopping for knee sleeves, there are a few crucial factors to consider. 'The first thing you need to know is that all sleeves do the same job in supporting the knee,' says Opara. So job done in that regard. But to make sure you're choosing the very best knee sleeves for you, it's worth paying attention to the nitty gritty.

'The main difference is the thickness of the sleeves,' says Opara. 'You will need to decide if you need 3mm, 5mm or 7mm, and this can be determined by the type of exercise you’re doing.

'Powerlifters and body builders put their knees under a lot of pressure and often want that extra stability so they tend to use thicker 7mm sleeves. Those who prefer cross-training, incorporating a variety of movements and load-bearing exercises, tend to go for 5mm, while more general gym-goers who weight train tend to prefer 3mm sleeves which should provide enough support.'

As mentioned above, fit is key and the level of compression you're after might vary dependent on what you're doing.

'If you’re going to be moving around more dynamically in a sporting environment then you’ll want your knee sleeves to be less supportive; these sleeves are sometimes made of a fabric and elastic blend,' says Iskandarani. But if you're looking for support during movements such as heavy squatting, opt for thicker and slightly more snug sleeves.

Many knee sleeves are made from neoprene, which holds and retains heat fantastically well. However, it's not the most breathable fabric, so if you're going to be moving around a lot and sweating, moisture-wicking polyester or nylon might be a better choice.

Some knee sleeves also have non-slip grips, four-way stretch or foam cushioning for added comfort.

No one likes the guy carrying gym bag-stench into the weights section, so make sure you're able to look after your knee sleeves properly before buying. At the very least you need to turn them inside out and let them air dry after each session, but you should also regularly wash them.

Cold hand-washing with a gentle or sports-specific detergent is generally deemed the best way to prolong the life of your knee sleeves, but if that sounds like too much work, make sure you choose sleeves that can be put in the washing machine — but always opt for the gentle cycle and air dry.

As Iskandarani puts it: 'Make sure you wash and dry your knee sleeves regularly. If you don’t, people will smell you walking into the gym before they see you.'

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8 Best Knee Sleeves to Support Every Squat and Sprint UK 2023

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