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 2021
- UFlex Athletics Knee Compression Sleeve
- Physix Gear Knee Support Brace
- Blitzu Flex Plus Compression Knee Brace
- Pro-Tec Athletics Gel Force Knee Sleeve
- PowerLix Knee Compression Sleeve
- Mava Sports Knee Support Sleeves
- Cambivo Knee Compression Sleeves
- CopperJoint Compression Knee Sleeve
- TechWare Pro Knee Brace
- IPOW Patella Stabilizer Knee Strap
- How to Choose the Best Knee Sleeve for Running
TOP 10 Best Knee Sleeves for Running 2021
How to Choose the Best Knee Sleeve for Running
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
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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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