Knee compression sleeves are popular accessories for fitness enthusiasts, athletes, and casual exercisers alike. These sleeves are stretchy bands of fabric, usually neoprene, you wear over your knees. They support the kneecap during physical activity and may help reduce pain if you have knee problems, like arthritis.
For people who engage in high-impact activities or suffer from knee pain or injuries, knee compression sleeves offer support, stability, and compression to the knee joint. However, the question remains: are knee compression sleeves beneficial for injury prevention or for improving exercise performance?
To answer this question, you must first understand knee mechanics. Several components make up a knee joint, including bones, ligaments, tendons, and cartilage, and they’re all susceptible to injury. Running, and jumping are some of the most common high-impact activities that cause knee injuries, and you want to avoid them, as they take time to heal and cause pain.
Knee injuries can involve trauma to any of the tissues that make up the knee joint, including ligaments, tendons, cartilage, bones, and muscles. There are several types of knee injuries, but fractures, dislocations, sprains, and tears of ligaments are the most common and they’re among the most common injuries athletes experience.
Exercise Places Force on Your Knees
Why are knee injuries so common? When you exercise, you subject your knees to significant stress and strain. Exercising with poor technique, incorrect shoes, or overexercising can trigger inflammation, swelling, and pain or even stretch or tear a tissue, like cartilage. This can hinder performance and lead to long-term damage if left untreated. Knee compression sleeves work by providing compression to the knee joint, which helps reduce swelling and increase knee stability.
The key benefit of knee compression sleeves is they can help reduce injury risk. Wearing knee compression sleeves helps reduce the risk of a knee injury during exercise by providing extra support for the knee joint during a workout.
Improvements in Performance
Knee compression sleeves can also improve performance during exercise. By providing support and stability to the knee joint, knee compression sleeves reduce fatigue and improve endurance. This is particularly beneficial for athletes who need to perform at their best for extended periods.
From runners to basketball players and even weightlifters, compression sleeves can help an athlete push through and achieve the desired results. Compression sleeves are also an excellent choice for those who are pre-habilitating, as they can help reduce the risk of injury and keep the knees stable. All in all, they can be a helpful tool for anyone looking to improve their performance.
Knee Compression Sleeves Help Reduce Pain and Swelling
Another benefit of knee compression sleeves is they help alleviate pain and discomfort associated with knee injuries or conditions like arthritis. The compression provided by the sleeve reduces inflammation and swelling, which can help to alleviate pain and improve mobility. One study published in Arthritis Research and Therapy found that knee compression sleeves are beneficial for stabilizing knees and reducing knee pain.
Another study found that knee sleeves help reduce pain, improve symptoms, and increase function for patients dealing with knee osteoarthritis. While more research is necessary to fully evaluate the benefits of these sleeves for patients with knee arthritis, the initial results are promising.
Knee compression sleeves are not a cure-all solution for knee pain or injury. While they can provide support and stability to the knee joint, you shouldn’t rely on them as the sole treatment for knee problems. While they provide support and stability to the knee joint, don’t use them as a substitute for getting a diagnosis of what’s causing your knee pain.
So, are knee compression sleeves beneficial if you exercise? The answer is yes, but with some caveats. A knee compression sleeve provides support, stability, and compression to the knee joint, which can reduce the risk of injury, improve performance, and alleviate pain. Nevertheless, you shouldn’t use them as a sole treatment for knee pain. It is possible your doctor will recommend other treatments.
When shopping for knee compression sleeves, choose a high-quality product that fits properly and provides the right amount of compression. A poorly fitting or low-quality knee compression sleeve can do more harm than good, so it is worth investing in a product designed for your specific needs and provides the right level of support and compression.
- “Knee Injuries | Johns Hopkins Medicine”. 2023. Www.Hopkinsmedicine.Org. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/knee-injuries.
- Smith, Toby O. “Knee Orthoses for Treating Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome.” Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, vol. 2015, no. 12, Dec. 2015, doi:10.1002/14651858.CD010513.PUB2.
- “5 Best Knee Compression Sleeves of 2022 – Healthline.” 22 Aug. 2022, https://www.healthline.com/health/best-knee-compression-sleeves.
- Cudejko T, van der Esch M, van der Leeden M, van den Noort JC, Roorda LD, Lems W, Twisk J, Steultjens M, Woodburn J, Harlaar J, Dekker J. The immediate effect of a soft knee brace on pain, activity limitations, self-reported knee instability, and self-reported knee confidence in patients with knee osteoarthritis. Arthritis Res Ther. 2017 Dec 1;19(1):260. doi: 10.1186/s13075-017-1456-0. PMID: 29191237; PMCID: PMC5709997.
- Elphingstone JW, Paul KD, Girardi A, Simmons CS, Casp AJ, Brabston EW, Momaya AM. Bioactive Knee Sleeve for Osteoarthritis: A Small Cohort Study. South Med J. 2022 Oct;115(10):773-779. doi: 10.14423/SMJ.0000000000001454. PMID: 36191914.
- Schween R, et al. (2015). Immediate effects of an elastic knee sleeve on frontal plane gait biomechanics in knee osteoarthritis.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4306516/
- Mohd Sharif NA, Goh SL, Usman J, Wan Safwani WKZ. Biomechanical and functional efficacy of knee sleeves: A literature review. Phys Ther Sport. 2017 Nov;28:44-52. doi: 10.1016/j.ptsp.2017.05.001. Epub 2017 May 6. PMID: 28673759.
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