If you’ve been involved in the CrossFit world for very long or watched the CrossFit Games on TV, you’ll notice that the athletes are sporting all kinds of specialized equipment. Everything from CrossFit gloves to CrossFit handgrips to shoes for CrossFit.
These can all enhance your performance, and most importantly improve your comfort during workouts. Because the more comfortable you feel, the more likely you are to keep pushing yourself. And one way to give yourself the confidence to push harder is with a knee sleeve.
In this article, we will go over the best knee sleeves for CrossFit including what a knee sleeve is, the benefits of wearing a knee sleeve, why it’s great for CrossFitters, and what to look for in a knee sleeve. Finally, we’ll look at some of the top products and brands of knee sleeves in the industry.
Top Knee Sleeves for CrossFit – Comparisons
Top Rated Knee Sleeves
Nordic Lifting is a well-known brand in the weightlifting community and they bring that same expertise to their workout knee sleeves. These knee sleeves are made of neoprene, a synthetic material that’s long-lasting. They have reinforced stitching to ensure they will last through all the stretching of performing squats and box jumps.
These workout sleeves are designed to hold in heat, making sure you stay warmed up throughout your whole workout. They offer compression to give increased input to your knee joint, improving performance and helping to prevent injuries.
The compression of these sleeves will also help your recovery time after a tough workout by promoting the return of blood flow and lactic acid, decreasing muscle soreness.
They offer a variety of sizes and a sizing chart to ensure you get the appropriate sizing, and more importantly compression, that you need.
- Sold as a pair
- Reinforced stitching to ensure durability
- May be too thick for running and jumping activities
The Rehband offers a 7mm knee sleeve that is made by Otto Bock, one of the leading medical device companies specializing in prosthetics and orthotics. You can be assured that anything Otto Bock has a hand in is going to be made of quality materials.
These knee sleeves are approved by the International Powerlifting Federation (IPF) and the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF), meaning they meet the highest standards for competition.
Because this sleeve was designed by a medical device company, it is shaped to fit your knee more than any other sleeve out there. It is designed to give compression to help with muscle recovery after workouts and to help give support and input to your knees during squats and competitions.
They suggest buying the recommended size for everyday training and buying one size smaller for competition. During the competition, you want as much compression and support as possible, so a fresh sleeve with a tighter fit is ideal. Just don’t go overboard! You don’t want it so tight you’re cutting off circulation.
It’s good to note that this sleeve is sold as a single sleeve only, and not as a pair.
- Made by a medical device company, ensuring quality and efficacy
- Approved by IPF and IWF
- Sold only as a single sleeve, not a pair
These thick, 7mm knee sleeves are ideal CrossFit knee sleeves. They are built for high-level performers, with enough support to give you added stability during your lifts but not so stiff that you can’t get as deep as you want.
Its anatomic fit ensures that you get compression in all the right places, without being too loose at the calf and too tight at the thigh.
They have a warming effect to ensure your muscles are performing at their highest capacity, and not becoming strained because they lost all the benefits of your warm up.
The compression not only provides stability but also helps with blood flow, removing lactic acid from your muscles faster and decreasing soreness.
They have a sizing guide, so you get the right amount of compression you need. But if what you ordered isn’t working for you, their return and exchange policy makes it amazingly easy to try another size without coughing up the extra cash.
- Easy exchange policy to make sure you get the right size without an added fee
- Thick 7mm for added stability
- May be too thick for jumping and running activities
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In addition to their top-selling 7mm knee sleeve, Rehband also makes a 5mm knee sleeve. The 5mm knee sleeve is a thinner version that gives more mobility during workouts. This makes it a great knee sleeve for CrossFit because it can handle all the dynamic movements of CrossFit like running and jumping.
These knee sleeves are made of the same quality material as the 7mm, so you know you will be getting a long-lasting sleeve that doesn’t stretch out after a few workouts.
Like its 7mm brother, this 5mm sleeve is designed anatomically to give you compression throughout your whole knee joint. This not only improves blood flow and recovery but also increases the stability the sleeve offers.
This sleeve feels like it is hugging your knee, giving you the confidence to lift weights and do your box jumps without worrying about injury.
- Thinner material allows you to perform more dynamic movements
- Designed for compression all along your knee joint
- Thinner design not made for heavy lifting
Bear KompleX makes a variety of quality, protective workout products and their knee sleeves are no exception. These sleeves come in a variety of colors to avoid the boring traditional black or blue knee sleeves.
They also come in both 5mm and 7mm sizes, so you can get the support you need whether it’s box jumps and running, heavy squats, or a combination of the two.
Made of strong neoprene material and an anatomical design, these are some of the best knee sleeves for squatting. The compression will keep your knees feeling stable as you try to push past 90 degrees and it will make deep squats more enjoyable as your confidence grows.
The compression helps to keep the blood flowing and keep your knees warm. This ensures that your muscles are ready to get to work and do their job and you won’t be caught straining a muscle because it got cold and lost its mobility.
- Sold as a pair of knee sleeves
- Comes in a variety of colors and thicknesses
Why Do You Need A Knee Sleeve For CrossFit?
Knee sleeves are basically a softer, more flexible version of a knee brace. Although they can’t technically be classified as a knee brace, the idea behind knee sleeves is the same. They are designed to primarily give compression to the knee joint. This compression has several benefits.
First, the compression gives added input to your knee, making you feel more confident in your heavy lifting as you get that squat past 90 degrees. As the sleeve is made of flexible material, it’s not truly giving stability like a reinforced knee brace would. However, the added compression gives a signal to your brain and muscles that you need some added stability around that joint.
Second, the compression acts as a pump to help promote blood flow. The same way compression stockings work at the feet; a compression knee sleeve will increase blood flow and blood return at the knee. This not only keeps your knees warm during workouts (which is important for your muscles’ performance and health!) but it also helps to disperse some of that lactic acid buildup that results in soreness the next day.
This compression and added stability can help to increase your performance in CrossFit. If you’re really looking to up your weights during heavy lifts, a knee sleeve can be just the little extra boost that you need. It’s not cumbersome or bulky like a knee brace, and it will flex with you during box jumps and running workouts.
There’s a reason you see top-weightlifting competitors using knee sleeves, so although you may not be at an elite level, it can give you a boost to keep beating your own PRs.
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What To Look For In A Knee Sleeve
Knee sleeves can be found online and in almost any fitness store, but you need to make sure you’re getting what you need.
The best knee sleeves are made of neoprene, which is a durable, long-lasting material that can be washed. Nobody wants to be that guy or gal at the gym with stinky knee sleeves.
You want a sleeve that doesn’t just look like a straight tube but provides contours that match up with your knee anatomy. This ensures that you will get compression all along the joint instead of just the top and bottom.
Knee sleeves come in a variety of thicknesses, typically 3mm, 5mm, and 7 mm. For CrossFit, a 3mm size is likely too thin to provide enough support, so you’ll want to look for a sleeve with 5mm or 7mm thickness.
Finally, you should choose a sleeve that comes in a variety of sizes and gives you a specific guide on how to measure for each size. Otherwise, you will end up with a generic sleeve that is too tight at the thigh and too loose at the calf, creating a tourniquet effect.
Now that you are familiar with some of the best knee sleeves for CrossFit, you can decide which ones are going to work for you. Keep in mind that sizing is a huge part in choosing the right knee sleeve. You don’t want something so loose that it’s ineffective, but you also don’t want something so tight that it turns into a tourniquet.
Choose a sleeve you like and try it out for a few workouts. From there you’ll be able to tell what thickness you need and how much compression you like. And what a difference it makes in your squats!
Product images sourced from Amazon.com.