What one thing stops the most dedicated athlete in their tracks?
One injury can keep you away from the box for days, weeks, even months while the injury heals.
Meanwhile, you may be losing precious muscle, gaining unwanted fat, and going backward on your fitness goals.
That’s why I recommend all CrossFit athletes and lifters wear knee sleeves when they lift.
I gathered this list of the 15 best knee sleeves for CrossFit, wrote this buyer’s guide, and answer your knee sleeve questions in the FAQs. So let’s go!
- TOP 15 Best CrossFit Knee Sleeves 2021
- Rogue Knee Sleeves
- Aeolos Knee Sleeves
- Hookgrip Knee Sleeves 2.0
- Stoic Knee Sleeves
- ProFitness Knee Sleeves
- Workt Knee Sleeve
- Bear KompleX Compression Lite Knee Sleeves
- Rehband Knee Sleeve
- Exo Knee Sleeves
- Bear KompleX Knee Sleeves Original
- Iron Bull Knee Sleeves
- Nordic Lifting Knee Sleeves
- RockTape Knee Sleeves
- Sling Shot Mark Bell Strong Knee Sleeves
- Exous Bodygear Knee Sleeves
- Knee Sleeve Buying Guide 2021
- Knee Sleeve FAQs
TOP 15 Best CrossFit Knee Sleeves 2021
Knee Sleeve Buying Guide 2021
Why Use a Knee Sleeve?
Why use a knee sleeve? Here are several reasons!
They keep your knees warmed up in between reps and different exercises, which make squats and lifts feel more fluid.
The best knee sleeve for CrossFit will give a small amount of bounce or rebound at the end of a squat which may help you lift more weight.
The benefit of the bounce is the added confidence the sleeves give to go deep on a squat and reap the maximum benefit while building your gluteus maximus.
It’s All about Form
Knee sleeves help keep your knees pointed out and improve your form. The importance of correct form while lifting, squatting or virtually any exercise cannot be understated.
Injury and Wear Prevention
Knee sleeves are a form of “prehab” because you wear them before wearing or damage occurs and prevent the pain in the first place.
You may believe that you are OK with your current routine, but as many athletes will tell you, the injury can show up later or occur over time.
Speaking of “prehab” stretching is an important way to prevent injury. Check out our list of recommended stretch mats before you hit the gym.
Lift More Weight!
If you are trying to increase your squat weight, knee sleeves are a must. The added weight on a knee that has not lifted a higher weight is just begging for an injury.
Knee sleeves will give you the confidence to take your weight to the next level.
Sleeves provide the bounce needed to actually lift heavier, and they protect your knee from injury on heavy lifts. Click here for more info on the best knee sleeves for squats.
How are CrossFit Knee Sleeves Different From Knee Sleeves for Lifting?
CrossFit Sleeves are built to support and stabilize, just like sleeves for lifting.
The difference is that lifting sleeves are often much tighter and stiffer, made specifically for support while lifting.
Weight lifting sleeves are very hard to get on. If a sleeve is too easy to get on, it will not have the support needed for serious lifting. If the sleeve is not too stiff, it is probably designed for functional fitness or CrossFit.
In fact, many weight lifters use knee wraps instead of sleeves, because they can get the wraps tighter than a sleeve.
CrossFit knee sleeves are not as intense, they are designed to support and stabilize, but they better range of movement and can be worn for agility movements plus you can wear them for the entire workout if you want.
CrossFit knee sleeves are great for high repetition lifting.
What to Look for When Choosing the Best Knee Sleeves for CrossFit
The stiffer or more ridged the sleeve the more likely they will be useful for heavy lifting. In our experience there are three classes of knee sleeve:
- Very stiff, SBD neoprene. The type that is hard to get on and offer maximum support. They feel tight and do not bend easily. These are the type of sleeve powerlifters wear.
- Sleeves that offer a mix of support and flexibility. They are OK for lifting and agility movements. These are the most common type worn for CrossFit. They can be worn during the entire workout.
- Light and flexible sleeves. These can be worn all day, every day for virtually any activity. They are sometimes worn just to cover the knees and protect it from the bar. They offer minimal support, but do keep the knee joint warmed up. They have compression, and are good for recovery too.
This is a preference issue. Some find that longer sleeves offer more support while others find the long sleeves have too much fabric and feel bulky.
Longer sleeves are less likely to roll and bunch up, but they may be harder to get on.
MM 5 or 7mm
These are measures of thickness and apply to neoprene sleeves.
7mm thickness is stiffer and more supportive.
5mm thickness is more flexible and can be used for jogging, agility exercises or recovery and warm-up.
One common failure point in knee sleeves is the stitching, which is why it is important to check the stitching.
The seams should be smooth, evenly sewed, straight and neat. Look for sleeves that are double stitched and check reviews for those that tend to fall apart or develop holes.
Knee Sleeve FAQs
Should I Wear Knee Sleeves for CrossFit? Do Knee Sleeves Help CrossFit?
While they are not an absolute requirement for CrossFit, knee sleeves do have many benefits. They keep your knees warmed up and loose, so you can squat deep.
The stiffer knee sleeves can add a few lbs to your PR by the spring back they offer. Many CrossFit athletes like sleeves simply because they add confidence when lifting, and improve the mental aspect of lifting heavy.
Also, one big reason many CrossFit athletes wear knee sleeves is to protect a previous knee injury or heal faster from a current one.
Why do My Knees Hurt After CrossFit?
There are many reasons your knees may hurt from CrossFit, and it’s hard to say why your knees might hurt.
Squatting too heavy, or too often is one possible cause. Bad lifting form or poor mobility are other causes.
Knee pain can even come from issues with your feet and ankles, like pronated feet.
Have your coach check your form while you lift to look for advice.
A good knee sleeve can offer support and keep your knees warmed up, lessening pain, but if knee pain is constant, see a Sports Medicine Doctor.
How Tight Should Compression Knee Sleeves be?
There are two types of knee sleeves with compression. Knee sleeves that have recovery compression and knee sleeves that are designed for lifting heavy weight.
If you are using the knee sleeves for recover or just keeping your knees warmed up, the compression should be tight enough that they are a challenge to get on, but not so tight that they restrict movement or cut off circulation. Recovery knee sleeves should be comfortable enough to wear the entire workout.
Lifting knee sleeves are another story. Lifting knee sleeves are really tight, so tight some athletes ONLY wear them during the lift. You may see lifters who roll the sleeves down or take them off between sets. Lifting sleeves are not normally worn during the entire CrossFit WOD.
Speaking of compression…
Compression gear has been shown to help you recover faster.
Should I get 5mm or 7mm Knee Sleeves?
It depends on the level of support you want. The thicker the neoprene, the more supportive, stiff and tight the sleeves will be.
5 mm sleeves are ideal for metcons and agility work, or recover and keeping knees warm.
7mm sleeves are better suited for heavy lifting WODs.
I hope you were able to find the best knee sleeves for CrossFit for you.
Choosing the best knee sleeves for CrossFit may not be an easy task.
But one thing is for sure:
You need them to protect your knees now and in the future. So pick up a pair and we will see YOU at the box!
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One last thing…
If you love CrossFit and want to bring the sport you love to your home or garage gym, take a look at this list of CrossFit gear I curated for my fellow CrossFit fans here.