woman putting on knee sleeve

We include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Here’s our process.

If you have knee pain, you, like many others, may be looking for relief and a way to improve mobility. One possible method for both supporting the kneecap during activity and reducing pain is a knee compression sleeve, a stretchy band of fabric worn over the knee.

A study published in Arthritis Research & Therapy found that this type of support is an effective and immediate way to reduce pain, improve knee stability, and improve confidence during activity.

Knee sleeves’ low profile also makes them easier to wear than traditional knee braces, according to Dr. Greg Minnis, a physical therapist at Excel Physical Therapy in New Jersey.

He says that knee sleeves are ideal for people with a minor knee injury or mild pain who want more support for their knee without the bulkiness and limited mobility of traditional knee braces.

  1. Editor’s choice: UFlex Athletics Knee Compression Sleeve
  2. Best budget knee sleeve: Cambivo Knee Compression Sleeve
  3. Best knee sleeve with built-in patellar pad: Bauerfeind Sports Knee Support
  4. Best knee sleeve for light to moderate support: BLITZU Flex Professional Knee Sleeve
  5. Best sleeve for heavy-duty support: NEENCA Knee Compression Sleeve

There are two types of knee sleeves.

  • Open compression sleeves. These have a hole in the center that the patella, or kneecap, fits into.
  • Closed compression sleeves. These have no hole. Some have a pad stitched in that surrounds the patella and limits unwanted movement.

The thicker the material, the more compression and support the knee sleeves provide. The materials used in knee sleeves are elastic and have a goodwicking ability.

We considered a number of priorities when selecting the top knee sleeves.

  • Functionality. Style over substance isn’t usually what you want when it comes to supportive workout accessories. We made sure our knee sleeve selections checked all the boxes for support, flexibility, and durability.
  • Sustainability. Making a short-term investment is fine in some cases, but you want to make sure your workout gear will last through multiple sessions over time. Our picks are proven to hold up to a range of exercise expectations.
  • Affordability. Budget is key when planning how you’re going to support your activity. If you’re looking for a quality sleeve, it helps to have choices at various price points.

Interested in more details on our selection process? Here’s how we choose products and vet brands.

The quality of the materials and their performance features are what make the knee compression sleeves special.

Pricing guide

We have used the following guide to reflect a range of price points.

  • $ = under $15
  • $$ = $15–$30
  • $$$ = over $30

Editor’s choice

UFlex Athletics Knee Compression Sleeve

Price: $

The UFlex Athletics knee sleeve has 4.5 stars out of 24,000 reviews on Amazon.

The knit design makes this sleeve more comfortable during workouts. It is made of a blend of spandex, nylon, and latex, which makes it very comfortable to wear. It has a strip woven in to keep it from slipping.

The sleeve is in sizes small through large.

Best budget knee sleeve

Cambivo Knee Compression Sleeve

Price: $

The sleeve is made of materials that can help keep sweat away, with 65 percent nylon, 20 percent latex, and 15 percent spandex. The thick fabric provides reinforcement and the Silicone Wave help keep the sleeve in place.

The sleeve is available in both small and large sizes.

Best knee sleeve with built-in patellar pad

Bauerfeind Sports Knee Support

Price: $$$

“Most knee sleeves don’t have a built-in patellar pad. The padding around the kneecap helps to keep the kneecap in place and distribute the pressure evenly throughout, which is especially helpful if you are doing a long activity. The materials are designed to be comfortable to wear.”

The most expensive knee sleeve is $125. If you are focused on working out for longer periods, this one might be worth the money.

Best knee sleeve for light to moderate support

BLITZU Flex Professional Knee Sleeve

Price: $$

This sleeve is designed for a wide range of physical activities. It has a reinforced patella stabilizer that holds the kneecap in place, but also provides plenty of flexibility for mobility. It offers a more moderate level of support for those who want to keep moving, whether that is on the trail or in the gym.

It is available in both small and extra-large sizes. The fabric is air-dried to make it safe to wear.

Best sleeve for heavy-duty support

NEENCA Knee Compression Sleeve

Price: $$

Those who want more support during their activities can use this knee sleeve. It comes with a gel pad around the knee, and metal spring stabilizers to help it fit better. The fabric is designed to keep it in place.

The added support could make this sleeve work well for high intensity activities, recovery from minor injuries, and support for chronic conditions. The sizes are small to large.

Minnis says that you can use a knee sleeve if you need to compression your knee joint to improve stability and reduce pain.

He says that they are not good at providing a high level of stability or restricting mobility, which may be necessary with a more serious injury.

Knee sleeves provide only minor support, Minnis says, compared with knee braces, which offer a wider range of support. A rigid, hinged brace provides the highest level of support and can be used after surgery or after a more serious knee injury.

If you want to reduce pain and improve stability, you should only use a knee sleeve.

Minnis said that the life of a knee sleeve will be dependent on how much use it gets. A compression sleeve can last 6 months to a year with regular use. The elastic properties of the material may wear out or begin to come apart as time goes on.

Minnis says that most knee sleeves are not hard to clean.

Knee sleeves are not dangerous. Minnis sees the most common issue in his practice as skin irritation due to poor fit.

“He says that you want to make sure that the sleeve is tight but not so tight that it causes any problems. You don’t want the brace to be loose when you’re moving.”

Minnis suggests buying two sizes and keeping whichever one feels more comfortable while you are walking or performing the activity you intend to use the sleeve for.

A knee brace is a more supportive alternative to a knee sleeve. Taping, which involves wrapping the knee in special tape to limit unwanted movement and support the joint, is another alternative, Minnis says.

He says that a sleeve simply needs to be pulled up and that tape has to be applied each time.

A knee sleeve is a great option if you have a knee issue and want to reduce your knee pain. The guide above can help you find a knee support that is right for you.