Any equipment that increases performance or prevents injuries is worth looking at for CrossFit athletes.
The best knee sleeves for CrossFit will do both of these things, helping to stabilize your joints and perform better during WODs and heavy lifts.
Like any piece of equipment, the promises only become real when you do your homework first.
You want a set of knee sleeves that will make you better at CrossFit. There are several factors that determine if knee sleeves will do that or not.
In a hurry? Here are the top picks:
|Bear KompleX||Check on Amazon|
|Workt||Check on Amazon|
|EXO||Check on Amazon|
|Rehband||Check on Amazon|
But first, do you even need knee sleeves? Consider:
- Would extra support for your knees during WODS or heavy lifts be helpful?
- Would warmer, more fluid joints help you perform better?
The answer is likely yes to both of these, meaning knee sleeves might be a good idea. Just remember that knee sleeves are not a substitute for a knee brace. Also consider:
- Do you experience knee pain or discomfort during workouts?
- Have you had- or do you currently have- tendonitis in your knees?
While knee sleeves may help, serious or chronic knee pain, certain issues might warrant alternative solutions.
Now, let’s take a look at how (and which kind of) knee sleeves can up your CrossFit game in 2018.
What Are Knee Sleeves?
Think of knee sleeves as a hug for your knee joint.
They add compression to your knees as you exercise, helping your knees function the way they are meant to.
The right pair can provide compression, warmth and stability during heavy lifts and workouts.
CrossFit requires their athletes to have strong, functioning knees for most movements. You’d be hard-pressed to come up with a good WOD that doesn’t put stress on your knees.
Over time, all of those squats, dips, lunges, and steps can take a toll. One way to decrease the stress on your knees is to wear knee sleeves.
The wrong pair of knee sleeves can get destroyed in only a few workouts.
Worse, they can limit mobility and decrease performance when you use them.
If you are only concerned with finding out the best knee sleeves, skip to the bottom of this article for a review of some of the best.
Why Use Knee Sleeves?
Because of the nature of CrossFit, knee sleeves could be useful to you in one or more settings at your local box.
You might use them during heavy lifts, for certain movements in WODs, or to simply keep your knees warm and fluid when you train.
CrossFit athletes will likely benefit the most from knee sleeves that are both supportive and versatile.
If you plan to use them for WODs, you’ll want a pair that is strong enough to stabilize during heavy squats, but flexible enough to not feel constricting when running or rowing.
But why use them in the first place? For example, consider how often a CrossFit athlete might squat in a week.
In all, that week of programming contains somewhere between 300-500 squats. That’s a lot of work on your knees.
Knee sleeves will keep your knees warm and stable while you work out, limiting injuries and keeping you feeling healthy.
Two benefits of any good pair of knee sleeves include:
The compression that your knee sleeves offer will keep your knees stable when squatting or performing other CrossFit movements.
This will decrease your chance of knee injury and allow you to perform better when doing heavier, more explosive lifts.
Whether you are performing a 3RM squat or warming up with a PVC pipe, cold joints never feel good.
Good knee sleeves will increase blood flow to your knees and keep them your knees warm throughout your workout, helping you to be more fluid and powerful with your movements.
Is knee warmth a priority for you? Here are a few knee sleeve recommendations that will ensure you’re taken care of:
How are Knee Sleeves for CrossFit Different From Lifting Knee Sleeves?
Although there are various similiarties between knee sleeves designed for CrossFit and those aimed at weight lifters there are certain key differences you should be aware of.
Firstly, Knee sleeves for CrossFit are built to offer more stability to your knee joint and provide support, this is exactly the same of knee seeleves designed for weight lifting.
The main difference is that lifting knee sleeves are created to be even tighter and offer additional compression around the knees.
Quite simply, knee sleeves aimed at CrossFit atheletes are often not as ‘tight’ as those that are choosen to be worn by weight lifters.
CrossFit workouts don’t require the level of lifting that weight lifters will often carry out during their training sessions as a result knee compression isn’t such a high priority for CrossFit.
Weight lifters will oftern choose to where knee wraps to provide an even tighter fit because many knee sleeves, although they offer support, just aren’t going to fit as tightly around the knee joints as a wrap can.
Things To Consider When Buying Knee Sleeves
So now you know what knee sleeves are, and how they’ll help you. You know they should be supportive, but not constricting.
You’re ready to buy, right?
Hold on. There’s a few other factors to consider first to make sure you are buying the right pair of knee sleeves for you and your fitness goals.
When you start shopping around, you’ll learn that you must choose the thickness of your knee sleeves.
Here is a brief description on the three measurements you are most likely to come across.
- 3mm– Ideal for endurance workouts or endurance athletes.
- 5mm– Ideal for mixed activities, like a WOD in CrossFit or any other type of cross training.
- 7mm– Ideal for heavy lifting or any movement that requires heavy stabilization.
For more details, check out this guide for picking the right knee sleeve thickness.
It’s important to consider the material of your knee sleeves, because each material will provide a different feel and different benefits.
For example, if you only need them for heavy squats, you’ll want a pair that offers less flexibility and more stability.
Here is a brief description of the materials you will find:
- Cloth – offers light support and joint warmth. Cloth will likely wear down quicker than others with high volume exercise, but will endure basic lifting.
- Neoprene – versatile, supportive, medium level of thickness. Generally speaking, neoprene material is probably your best bet for CrossFit workouts.
- Knee Wraps – adjustable, supportive, but not always stable during workouts with variety. Good for warming up joints prior to a workout or heavy lifts.
Consider what you’ll need your knee sleeves for. While neoprene sleeves will likely work best, they are usually the most expensive.
If you only need your knee sleeves for lifting, you might not need them!
Gym Pro Tip: Know that neoprene sleeves tend to acquire an almost legendary odor after a few months of use. For your nose, and the noses of other gym-goers, be sure to wash your knee sleeves every few weeks.
Mobility comes down to personal preference. Some people enjoy the mildly constricting feeling of a thick knee sleeve, ensuring their joints are supported.
Others prefer the joint warming benefits of a light sleeve and don’t like the sensation of limited mobility.
The best way to find your preference is to experiment.
Practice different movements and see what feels good. See what might decrease performance or feel like a pestilence.
Best Knee Sleeves for CrossFit
If you spend a lot of time in CrossFit gyms, there’s a good chance that you’ve seen the Rehband Rx knee sleeves.
These are perhaps the most popular pair of knee sleeves for CrossFit athletes out there.
Users boast about the stability, knee joint warmth, and versatility of the Rehband sleeves.
They may take some time to wear in (limiting flexibility initially), but they are durable and will hold up during longer CrossFit workouts.
A bonus is that they are designed to slide up and down the knee easily, so athletes can take them off in the middle of a WOD if needed.
- Feel more confident and secure in any activity, from weekend warrior pursuits to powerlifting or elite competitive sports. The classic Rehband 5mm model provides knee support with comfortable, flexible, knee joint compression. Our 5mm neoprene knee compression sleeve acts as a mobile knee support that offers warmth, relieves pressure, and improves coordination for any activity.
- The Rehband knee support pattern construction is built on an anatomical fit so unique that it has been patented! Due to this product’s medical classifications, they are sold as a single unit. Note a package will contain a single knee sleeve.
- The Rehband knee sleeve provides reinforcement all the way around the knee, and allows for a safe, optimal range of motion in any leg-driven activity - whether you’re an elite athlete or just casually active, and no matter how old you are. It’s perfect to help prevent strain or injury, while also ideal to use for faster recovery and rehabilitation from knee strains or other wear and tear.
- Rehband has been a top-flight, dependable creator of knee supports and other joint support technology for decades, making only the highest quality handcrafted products since 1955. Designed in Sweden and produced in Europe, we build our products in close collaboration with athletes. We keep one foot in medical science and one foot on the sports field to address every point of potential need for our customers.
- If you’re like Rehband, you want to make the best possible choices in your life, and for your health. Choose Rehband and find out why so many of the world’s most elite athletes select our knee sleeves over any others. Opt for the uncompromising, premium quality and superior design of Rehband knee support to stay healthy, get stronger, and reach your full potential.
Sold at 5mm and 7mm, the Bear KompleX knee sleeves will provide a lot of stabilization. These sleeves are probably best for various types of strength training or heavy lifting instead of metcons.
Most users say that while these knee sleeves last a long time, it can take 1-2 months of regular use to break them in properly.
Best Knee Sleeves For Squats
You probably won’t find a less expensive pair of knee sleeves that have the positive reviews and benefits that Workt knee sleeves have.
CrossFit athletes find the durability and flexibility perfect for these sleeves to be great for CrossFit WODs, but possibly lacking for heavy lifting.
You may consider a heavier, more stable pair if you plan to use your knee sleeves mostly for heavy lifting.
One reviewer mentioned that excessive washing of these sleeves resulted in them wearing down after about 8 months.
- DEVELOPED AND ENDORSED by Elite Crossfit Pro Chris Spealler. Rigorously tested in the gym and lab for optimal effectiveness for athletes and anyone desiring superior, comfortable knee support. Made with Ecoprene, this sleeve is the most durable and comfortable sleeve on the market!
- PREMIUM QUALITY DESIGN: Made with Ecoprene Technology with strong, heavy-duty stitching for repeated, long-lasting use. Durable 4-way stretch Ecoprene ensures maximum compression and stability to increase blood flow and reduce inflammation. Anti-slip sleeves stay in place during your toughest workouts.
- PROTECT & PRESERVE YOUR KNEES: Helps prevent injury and provides warmth, support and comfort for existing pain, injuries, or post-surgery. Great to use during any physical activity or simply to provide warmth and support to achy knees.
- AVAILABLE IN 5mm & 7mm: Extra-small, Small, Medium, Large & Extra-Large sizes in a variety of colors. See Product Description below for sizing information and difference between 5mm and 7mm.
- FREE SHIPPING (USPS First Class) within the continental U.S. Proudly made in the USA. 100% Satisfaction Guaranteed.
Best Knee Sleeves For Weight Lifting
These neoprene sleeves offer various levels of thickness, which provides options for the consumer to determine the best fit.
The 7mm sleeves (their most popular product), offers great stabilizing support for powerlifting, Olympic lifts while still being durable enough to work for your typical WOD.
They are designed with a tapered and cut fit, appearing smaller and less bulky than some of the other options. If style matters, this might be the pair for you.
- SPECIALLY DESIGNED FOR ELITE PERFORMANCE: Whether you’re into heavy lifting, competitive CrossFit or any other strenuous leg activity, EXO sleeves provide superior stability, warmth and compression to improve blood flow and reduce strain and swelling
- TRIPLE REINFORCED TO BE INDESTRUCTIBLE: EXO sleeves are constructed with triple reinforcement to withstand even the most vigorous workouts and resist odors in the process
- SUPERIOR QUALITY BUILT FOR YOUR COMFORT AND STRENGTH: Stretchable high-performance 5mm elastic neoprene fabric is antimicrobial and easy adjustable according to different compression needs
- BEST KNEE SLEEVES FOR SQUATS: Their anatomical pre-curved shape and closed patella design offer full knee coverage, which means complete 360º protection and a snugger, more natural fit
- DEVELOPED BY SEASONED CROSSFIT ATHLETES: Whether you are completing a back squat super set, attempting a Clean & Jerk PR, doing thrusters in your workout, or testing out 100 burpees for time, Exo will be there to ensure your comfort, style and safety is not comprised.
Best Knee Sleeves For Powerlifting
Another pair with 7mm of thickness, you’re getting more stable knees for a much lower price with the Iron Bull knee sleeves.
That said, reviews are mixed on this pair. It’s bulky feel and more rigid feel might be okay for performing heavy lifts, but could hinder performance in a CrossFit workout.
It is a well-designed pair of sleeves that will last, so it might be a good second pair for the back of your gym bag.
- ✅ PREMIUM 7MM KNEE SLEEVES (1 Pair): Featuring 7mm Neoprene Flex-Material designed for maximum support, compression and stability for CrossFit, weight lifting, powerlifting, bodybuilding and more! Our sleeves are also competition approved: USPA & IPL Approved Gear
- ✅ KNEE COMPRESSION & SUPPORT: Our 3-D design provides a contoured fit for perfect joint compression and warmth with optimal breathability and comfort.
- ✅ ANTI-SLIP TECHNOLOGY: The knee sleeve upper limit features double silicone gel strips to lock it in place during intense activities. Never re-position your sleeves again during a WOD or intense workout!
- ✅ PREVENT INJURY: Knee sleeves reduce pressure and swelling during activity proven to promote muscle recovery and prevent injury. Increase performance and confidence instantly on all your lifts!
- ✅ SIZING CHART: Please use sizing chart in listing images to order the correct size. You need to measure your true knee size with a flexible tape.
The “Bee’s Knees” for CrossFit Athletes
CrossFit athletes will increase their performance and reduce the risk of injury with the right pair of knee sleeves.
Look for a pair that offers versatility, support, and the durability to hold up during longer workouts.
Consider thickness, material, and mobility of the sleeve. Practice knee-dominant movements while wearing different pairs if possible, to see what might work best for you.
And when it’s all said and done, you can probably get the right pair of knee sleeves for under $60.
Maybe even spring for two pairs, if you aren’t the type to wash your gym gear often. Your lifting partners will thank you.
Good knee sleeves will offer stability and knee joint warmth as you work through barbell movements and WODs. A bad pair will constrict movement or feel bulky, limiting performance in the process, so do your homework. We hope our review of the best knee sleeves for CrossFit helps!
Knee Sleeve FAQs
- Do I need knee sleeves for CrossFit?
Not all CrossFit athletes require knee sleeves. However, if you do have a history of knee pain or injuries then it is recommended you invest in sleeves to help reduce the chances of recurring injuries.
- Are knee sleeves good for squatting?
Knee sleeves for squats can help you take your workout to another level. As mentioned above, many CrossFit athletes won’t require knee sleeves however sometimes the peace of mind they provide can be a great help next time you go for a PR.
- Is a knee brace and knee wrap the same?
No. A knee brace is worn when by someone with an existing injury who is currently in rehab or recovery. Knee wraps and knee sleeves are worn for support and additional knee compression to prevent future injuries.
- Are RockTape knee sleeves worth it?
RockTape knee sleeves are gaining popularity within the CrossFit world. Once we have a chance to carry out further testing we will create our own review of RockTape knee sleeves and how effective they are for CrossFit athletes.
- Should I get 5mm or 7mm knee sleeves?
This really depends on the level of lifting you’re doing as part of your training. For most CrossFit athletes 5mm knee sleeves will be absolutely fine. If you’re looking for extra support, which is often the case for weight lifters then 7mm may be more desirable.