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TOP 10 Best Knee Sleeves for Running 2020 – Don’t Let the Pain Stop You

Having problems with runner’s knee?

It happens to the best of us!

Knee pain is one of the most common problems that runners experience. But, using a good knee sleeve can help reduce that pain and encourage a faster recovery.

Here, we have a list of the best knee sleeves for running, because not all knee sleeves are made to cope with the rigors of running.

TOP 10 Best Knee Sleeves for Running 2020

UFlex Athletics Knee Compression Sleeve

Review: This is one of the most popular knee sleeves on the market right now. It’s designed with runners in mind and has silicone bands around the ends to help it stay in place while you run.

It provides supportive compression around the knee that helps the patella to stay in place while also creating a little warmth and reducing swelling.

This sleeve uses 3 layers of breathable material and molds to the contours your muscles so that you get support and compression without any rubbing or restrictions to natural movement.

Pros

  • Good value for money.
  • Comfortable compression.
  • Stays in place while you run.
  • Gentle heating effect.
  • Doesn’t restrict movement.

Cons

  • Some long term durability issues.

Takeaway

Easily some of the best knee compression sleeves for running, these sleeves are the perfect choice for use while recovering from an injury.

Physix Gear Knee Support Brace

Review: Another really popular option, Physix Gear’s knee support brace is designed to be comfortable enough to be worn all day, not just while you’re running.

It’s made of thin, lightweight material with a 4-way stretch so you can wear it comfortably under your clothes with no one noticing. The compression is designed to provide support for your knee cap while also increasing blood flow and decreasing inflammation.

But, it’s also a reliable option for running, designed to stay securely in place and not slip down. And, it’s pretty durable for a knee sleeve so you can be sure you’ll get your money’s worth.

Pros

  • Stays securely in place while running.
  • Provides a comfortable amount of compression.
  • Durable and easy to wash.
  • Comes as a 1, 2 or 4 pack.
  • No rubbing or chafing.

Cons

  • None.

Takeaway

This is the best knee support sleeve for running. It’s very comfortable, stays in place, and provides the perfect amount of support for a pain-free run.

Blitzu Flex Plus Compression Knee Brace

Review: These knee compression sleeves offer support to the patella and surrounding ligaments with light compression for circulation and quick recovery, without putting pressure on the knee cap.

They’re not quite as durable as the above two options but they’re an affordable choice if you’re looking for a short-term solution to a knee injury.

The sizing chart is accurate, but be sure to size up if you’re on the fence.

Pros

  • Comes as a pair.
  • Affordable.
  • Breathable, moisture-wicking material.
  • Comfortable compression and support.

Cons

  • They will lose their compression eventually so avoid washing too often to prolong their life.

Takeaway

These knee sleeves are an affordable option providing comfortable compression and support.

Pro-Tec Athletics Gel Force Knee Sleeve

Review: If you’re looking for a little more than just compression style support, these gel knee sleeves might be your jam.

They have a circular gel pad that wraps around your knee cap providing extra comfortable shock absorption and support. But they also have both medial and lateral stays and 4-way stretch material resulting in even more support.

It’s recommended to give them a few days to soften up and ‘break in’, and these knee sleeves should only be hand-washed if you want to get more than a few uses out of them.

Pros

  • Unique gel component offers very comfortable support.
  • Breathable, 4-way stretch material.
  • Spiral stays on both sides provide even more support without being restrictive.

Cons

  • A little pricey.
  • Requires breaking in.
  • Not machine washable.

Takeaway

The fit is a little tricky to get right, but once you do, these are really comfortable, supportive and good knee sleeves for running.

PowerLix Knee Compression Sleeve

Review: Measuring in at a very slightly longer length than other knee sleeves, this knee sleeve provides really great support for all of the surrounding muscles, increasing circulation and reducing vibrations and stress on the knee joint.

It’s very comfortable, with the right amount of compression for significantly reducing knee pain, and, it stays in place securely with silicone strips.

Pros

  • Silicone gel grips.
  • Breathable, moisture-wicking knit material.
  • Very comfortable and supportive compression.
  • Slightly longer length encapsulates surrounding muscles.
  • Anti-odor properties.

Cons

  • None.

Takeaway

A very popular, high performing knee sleeve.

Mava Sports Knee Support Sleeves

Review: These, thin, low-profile knee sleeves are some of the most comfortable on the market, really perfect for wearing underneath your clothes while recovering from a long run.

They’re made of soft material that doesn’t cause any itching or irritation, even when you’re sweaty, and they’re designed to have a warming effect so they’re great to put on before your run on a cold morning to make sure your joints are warm.

Pros

  • Comfortable enough to wear all day underneath your clothes.
  • Warming effect to aid with recovery.
  • Soft, non-itchy material.
  • Supportive compression.

Cons

  • You need to get the fit right otherwise they’ll slide down.

Takeaway

If you have sensitive skin that gets easily irritated or you’re looking for something comfortable enough to wear all day underneath your regular clothes, these are the knee sleeves for you.

Cambivo Knee Compression Sleeves

Review: If you’re in the market for a pair of knee sleeves and you’re on a budget, these might just do the trick. They come very highly rated, are very good value and reliable quality.

They offer comfortable compression from the breathable, 4-way stretch material, and it’s thin enough that you can wear the sleeves for long periods of time without becoming uncomfortable.

The fabric doesn’t bunch behind the knee and the silicone grips help them to stay in place.

Pros

  • Comes as a pair.
  • Breathable material.
  • Very, very affordable.
  • Anti-slip silicone grips.
  • Doesn’t bunch behind the knee.

Cons

  • May need to size down for a secure fit.

Takeaway

These are the best budget knee sleeves that provide an affordable but good quality option.

CopperJoint Compression Knee Sleeve

Review: I’ll admit, not everyone’s convinced as to how effective copper clothing is in… doing anything at all. There is no science to back up the inclusion of copper in compression clothing.

But, copper aside, CopperJoint knee sleeves are still a popular option for knee pain sufferers. How much of this is a placebo is hard to say. But, pain relief from placebo is still pain relief.

So, if you’re keen to give it a try, you might be rewarded.

Pros

  • Unbeatable customer service.
  • Odor-eliminating properties.
  • Circulation-boosting compression.
  • Moisture-wicking and breathable.
  • Very comfortable.

Cons

  • Logo peels off pretty quickly.

Takeaway

If you’re interested in trying out the possible benefits of copper-infused compression ware, these are highly rated knee sleeves.

TechWare Pro Knee Brace

Review: This is a brace more than a sleeve, which means it provides more structured support and is more guaranteed to encourage correct alignment than simple sleeves, but you don’t get the same compression benefits.

If your knee problems are definitely due to alignment issues and the tracking of your knee through your stride, this brace is an excellent option, but it likely won’t be as comfortable to wear while running.

Pros

  • A great choice for larger legs.
  • Provides more support than a compression sleeve.
  • Very secure fit with no room to slip.
  • Window over the knee cap.

Cons

  • May feel a little restrictive for running.

Takeaway

If you’re needing really serious support, this is your knee brace.

IPOW Patella Stabilizer Knee Strap

Review: A knee strap, as opposed to a knee sleeve, is another option if you know your knee pain is a result of misalignment of the knee cap.

Knee straps sit just under the knee cap and are designed to keep it tracking correctly while you move, while also helping with some shock absorption.

Pros

  • Adjustable tightness.
  • Very stable and secure support.
  • Comfortable with no chafing.
  • Stay in place while you run.
  • Affordable.
  • Come as a 2 pack.

Cons

  • They don’t come with any instructions – but you should be able to figure out what’s going on.

Takeaway

An alternative to knee sleeves, providing support without widespread compression.

How to Choose the Best Knee Sleeve for Running

female runner with knee support brace sleeve

Struggling with knee pain?

A knee sleeve might be a helpful addition to your running attire.

But let’s delve a little deeper into the mechanics first.

I’m not going to be one of those reviewers who simply tells you to buy a knee sleeve to solve all of your knee problems or even prevent injury in the first place.

Knee pain isn’t a result of not wearing a knee sleeve!

Unless you have a clinically diagnosed degenerative disease, knee pain results from muscle imbalances, improper footwear, and consequent misalignment of the knee.

But firstly, let’s not forget that a bit of knee pain is normal.

Just like sore muscles after a particularly strenuous run, getting sore knees every now and then is a normal response to the impact that you’re putting on your joints when you run.

It’s usually a sign that your shoes are wearing out, or you just stepped up your training significantly without giving your knees a chance to keep up. A little bit of knee pain every now and then is no reason to fret.

Persistent knee pain, on the other hand, has a root cause that needs to be addressed, rather than just wrapping it with a band-aid to treat the symptoms.

Find the Underlying Cause

Muscle Imbalance

If you’re experiencing persistent, nagging knee pain during or after every run, you might want to invest in a muscle balance assessment to find out what’s really going on.

Muscle imbalances mean that some muscles are too strong compared to others and end up pulling the knee out of alignment while you run, causing pain.

One of the most common causes of knee pain for runners is a tight ITB, and/or weak, tight hamstrings.

The solution, you guessed it, is strengthening and stretching exercises.

Stretching your hamstrings is relatively easy and can be done after every run simply by resting your foot on a nearby park bench and leaning forward.

Stretching your ITB isn’t quite as straight forward and requires the use of a foam roller. If you don’t have a foam roller already, have a read of our list of the best foam rollers for runners to get you started.

This is an excellent video for introducing you to foam rolling your ITB.

It can be REALLY painful to start with so you’ll definitely want to be using your opposite leg to control how much weight you put on the foam roller.

The Right Shoes

If the problem isn’t coming from a muscle imbalance, it’s almost definitely coming from your feet.

Over or under pronation both result in shunting the knee out of alignment. The barefoot running community believes that this can be fixed through strengthening up your feet. But this can take time.

The safer, shorter route is to see a podiatrist and get the right shoes.

man running on bay walk during daytime

Choose the Right Sleeve

Now that you’re addressing the root causes of your knee pain. There’s no reason why you should continue to suffer through your runs until you’ve strengthened or stretched your way to complete recovery.

Using a knee sleeve can definitely make this process more comfortable.

So, what should you look for?

No Slippage

This is the main factor that sets running knee sleeves apart from the rest.

If anything’s going to make your knee sleeve slide down your leg, it’s running.

So, making sure your knee sleeve is designed to stay in place, on your knee and not on your ankle, is key.

The Right Size

Getting the size right is important because it will control how well the sleeve stays in place and how well it does its job.

Too much or too little compression will make your knee sleeve pretty much useless.

Soft, Comfortable Material

Running makes you sweaty, and sweat means chafing or irritation.

Soft, non-scratchy, breathable and moisture-wicking material is important for keeping your skin comfortable and healthy.

Is it All in the Compression?

You might have noticed one thing that knee sleeves have in common – they all deliver a degree of compression to the knee. This is for multiple reasons.

360˚ compression with some targeted areas of flexibility, provides support by limiting sideways movement and twisting of the knee. It encourages correct tracking of the knee joint underneath the knee cap and helps to keep things in alignment.

However, compression also helps to reduce pain and encourage recovery through decreasing swelling and increasing blood flow.

So, you’d be forgiven for thinking that surely compression clothing can do the same thing?

To a degree, it can. If your knee problems aren’t so bad that you’re limping, then wearing some compression tights could be a great way of supporting rehabilitation as you strengthen and stretch the problem muscles. Be sure to read our list of the best compression tights if you’re in that camp.

male athlete running on a road wearing compression gear

Tips for Preventing Runner’s Knee

  • The 10% rule – Never increase training length or time by more than 10% per week.
  • Strength – This means the strength of all the stabilizing muscles as well as your main muscle groups. Doing slow squats while watching your knees with eagle eyes to make sure they track straight over your feet without wobbling, is a good way of strengthening all the stabilizing muscles.
  • Flexibility – Stretch, stretch, stretch! Stretching after every run is non-negotiable if you want a long and happy running career. This includes, calves, hamstrings, quads, hip flexors, and the ITBs.
  • The right shoes – Do you overpronate? Or underpronate? If you don’t have the right kind of support in your shoes for your foot shape and foot strength, your knee will be out of alignment when you run and will be a sure-fire way of landing you with runner’s knee. We have excellent lists of running shoes for overpronation and underpronation right here.
  • Knee sleeves for temporary relief – Using a knee sleeve is an excellent way of keeping your knees more comfortable while you work on the root cause. But relying on them too much will actually cause your knees to weaken and then you’ll never be able to run without them again. Don’t let this happen.

Interested in knee sleeves in general and not specifically just for running?

We have a list of all the best knee sleeves for use during your daily life right here. There are also other knee sleeves designed more specifically with CrossFit and squats in mind, providing a more specific kind of support for those activities, so make sure you’re matching your knee sleeve with the activity you’ll be using it for.

FAQs

running knee injury

Are Knee Sleeves Good for Running?

Knee sleeves can be a great way of supporting your knee while you’re recovering from an injury to help you get back into running sooner.

Do Knee Compression Sleeves Work for Running?

Knee compression sleeves can help relieve knee pain by providing support, reducing swelling and increasing circulation.

What are the Best Knee Sleeves for Running?

The best knee sleeves for running are those that provide a comfortable amount of support and stay in place while you run without feeling bulky or bunching up behind your knee. All of the sleeves on the list above are excellent choices.

Will a Knee Support Help when Running?

This depends on the source of your knee pain, but yes, for most people, a knee support can help relieve pain while you run, though you should address the root cause of your pain too and not rely on the support exclusively.

When should You use Knee Sleeves?

Only when you’re experiencing persistent knee pain and are actively working towards recovering from it. They’re not something you should wear all the time or you’ll become dependent on them.

Can I Machine Wash My Knee Sleeve?

The safest answer is NO. And keep it far, far away from your tumble dryer as well. Machine washing your knee sleeve will likely stretch it and stress it too much, significantly shortening its life.

That brings us to the end of this article.

All of the best knee sleeves for running are included in the list above and are great options to help with your knee pain.

But remember!

Stretching and strengthening the right muscles is essential to help you recover so that you don’t have to rely on your knee sleeve forever!

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