A knee compression sleeve is a stretchy piece of fabric that goes over your knee. Designed to compress your leg, it provides support to the tendons, ligaments, and knee cap.
Many athletes use knee compression sleeves to reduce the risk of injury, especially if they're competing in a high-impact sport like power-lifting, which can place the knees under a lot of stress.
Knee supports can also help with recovery from minor injuries, letting you treat them without the need for expensive medical trips.
However, it can be challenging to know the best practices with this type of gear. What kind of support is best? How long can you wear a knee compression sleeve? We answer these questions and more in this guide to all things knee support — just read on for everything you need to know.
What's the Difference Between a Knee Sleeve and a Knee Brace?
If you're looking for knee support, you may be trying to decide which type is best for you. The two main types of knee support are:
Sleeves: These are items made of stretchy fabric used to compress the knee. You can often find them in sports shops or supermarkets.
Brace: A knee brace is similar to a sleeve but usually gives more support thanks to the metal and plastic construction. It can be more restrictive. It is often for long-term use, particularly after severe injuries or operations.
While both options offer support, the main difference is one of function. A sleeve has more general use, such as preventing injury when playing a sport such as basketball. A doctor may recommend a brace before or as an alternative to surgery.
Should I Wear a Knee Sleeve?
Although there is a lot of information on the benefits of knee sleeves, it can be hard to know whether this piece of medical equipment is right for your specific needs.
To help you know whether you should wear a compression sleeve to treat your injury, check out the pros and cons of these devices. That way, you can decide whether it's a suitable remedy for your knee issues.
If you're unsure, it's always best to get medical advice. Although a compression sleeve can be a very effective remedy for knee pain, sometimes other options are more suitable. A doctor or physiotherapist can provide you with information on the best options for your needs.
Advantages of Knee Sleeves
Increases blood flow to your knee: This helps to supply it with nutrients and oxygen, helpful for healing.
Reduces inflammation: If you have problems with fluid build-up in your knees, a compression sleeve can help to reduce this. It is beneficial after an injury to reduce swelling.
Knee support: Helps provide additional support for your knee, making you less likely to injure it during an intense activity like weight-lifting. It ensures that your ligaments, knee cap, and tendons work together and follow the same lines.
Decrease in pain: These features mean that using a compression sleeve after an injury or operation can help to reduce the pain you feel.
Added warmth: If you're exercising in low temperatures, such as ski jumping, a sleeve can help your knee to stay warm, reducing the risk of damage or injury.
Disadvantages of Knee Sleeves
Not suitable for all knee issues: Compression sleeves can treat minor injuries and protect your knee. If you have a severe injury with a lot of pain, you should consult a doctor as it may need more serious treatment like physiotherapy.
Restrictive: If your sport or workout involves a lot of leg movement, a knee sleeve may get in the way and feel restrictive.
Is It Ok To Wear a Knee Brace All Day?
If you've read the information above and decided that compression support is the right option for you, you're probably wondering — how long can you wear a knee compression sleeve or brace?
A range of factors affects the answer to this question, as not all support devices are the same. These include:
How Tight Is the Sleeve or Brace?
If you're wearing a very tight sleeve after a couple of hours, it will likely become uncomfortable as the material will begin to dig into your skin. Therefore, if you choose a tight compression sleeve, you should take it off when it becomes painful.
The tightness is only relevant if you choose to wear a sleeve to help with or prevent an injury — if a doctor has advised you to wear a sleeve for longer, you should follow their advice.
Related: How Long Should I Wear a Knee Brace?
Why Do You Need the Support?
There are many reasons why people wear compression sleeves or braces. The function affects how long you should wear the device.
For example, suppose you're wearing it to support your knees when you're power-lifting or taking part in another sport that is high-impact. You will likely only need to wear it for the duration of your workout.
However, suppose you have had a knee operation that needs long-term support. Your doctor may advise you to wear a compression sleeve or brace for several weeks, in addition to other devices such as crutches.
What Type of Support Does It Offer?
There are many types of sleeves available on the market. You should make sure to purchase one that is best for your needs.
Many manufacturers explicitly state that you can use their devices all day. Others may have designed it for short-term use.
Are You Wearing It for Medical Use?
The main point to remember in all of this is that you should follow the advice of the medical practitioner who is treating your leg injury. They will show you the best model of sleeves to wear and tell you when and how you should wear them.
Suppose you are choosing to wear a sleeve without being told to by a doctor. In that case, you should follow the manufacturer's recommendations and listen to your body — if the sleeve starts to become very painful, that's usually a sign that you're wearing it for too long.
Can You Wear Knee Sleeves Over Leggings?
You can wear compression sleeves over leggings — however, it is usually easier to ensure the sleeve stays in place if it goes underneath your clothing.
If you need to wear the compression sleeve over leggings, you should ensure that it stays in place throughout your workout for it to be most effective.
An excellent way to do this is to pull your legging down underneath your foot before pulling on the sleeve. It helps make sure that the legging doesn't bunch up as you work out and pull the compression sleeve out of place.
Do Compression Sleeves Help Knee Pain?
When worn correctly, compression sleeves can help with pain and promote recovery. They help heal more minor injuries like sprains by increasing blood flow and helping all the knee parts move in the same way.
These devices can also prevent your knees from getting injuries caused by intense sports or workouts.
Verdict: Should You Get a Knee Sleeve?
If you have been experiencing unpleasant knee pain or taking part in strenuous sports, trying out a compression sleeve could be a great way to reduce the risk of injury or heal existing issues.
However, if you're having severe pain, it's always best to see a medical professional. They may advise you to wear a knee brace or compression sleeve to help with recovery, but they will know the best type for your issues.
Now that you know everything there is to know about knee supports, the only thing left to do is decide whether they're right for you. Click here for the best basketball knee sleeves.