Knee Compression Sleeves for Running (Important Things to Know)
- Runner's knee is no joke.
The pain and discomfort can sideline us at the worst possible times, whether you're hitting a PR, maintaining an exercise routine, or trying to stay ahead of the competition in your 5K race.
Are knee sleeves worth it for running?
Or are they another in a long line of fitness trends that will fade away?
Should I wear knee sleeves for running?
Knee compression sleeves are pretty popular among runners and athletes. Knee compression sleeves are different from traditional knee braces and are growing in popularity.
A quick look at Amazon reviews, you'll see thousands of reviews of folks who've managed their knee pain with a compression sleeve. In addition, many more doctors and physical therapists are recommending their use.
It's important to note that despite their effectiveness and reducing pain, they will not fix any underlying conditions causing pain. Therefore, it's always important to discuss with your doctor to diagnose any serious conditions.
Benefits for runners
The main benefit of compression sleeves is that they increase blood circulation in your knee area. In turn, this increases oxygenation in your muscles.
Which one to buy?
The thought of knee compression sleeves might conjure up images of a bulky, heavy piece of equipment that is the opposite of comfortable. But that's not what they are at all.
A compression sleeve is a lightweight fabric fitted to cover the knee area. The one thing all knee compression sleeves must do, as the name implies, is to compress your knee area.
A quick internet search shows dozens of types and brands of compression sleeves available, all claiming to offer similar benefits.
Elemental things to look for in a knee compression sleeve:
• Quality compression knit fabric
• Strong stitching
• Silicone strips for anti-slip
Any other features like copper fibers, fasteners, or cooling pads are extra, or you may find unnecessary.
Pictured: TKWC Knee Compression Sleeve
At Rent A Knee Walker, we carry the TKWC model for compression sleeves because of their consistent product quality.
How tight should a knee sleeve be for running?
If you're wearing one that's too loose, you won't get enough support from them. But if your sleeve is too tight, it will limit your range of motion. So how tight should your compression sleeve be for running?
In order for the sleeves to do their job properly, you want them to fit snugly around your knee area. The knee sleeve should be firm enough to provide firm but comfortable compression during activity.
It shouldn't feel confining or restrictive—you should still have a full range of motion in your leg—but it should feel like you have a nice, supportive hug going on around the knee.
Further Reading: How to Measure for Knee Compression Sleeves.
A well-designed knee compression sleeve should be made with breathable fabric that makes it comfortable when sweating outdoors.
Pictured: TKWC Knee Compression Sleeve
What are the main knee pain conditions in runners?
Based on the latest research, the following are some of the most relevant causes of knee pain in runners and the corresponding long-term solutions:
- Iliotibial Band Friction Syndrome
- A common issue in long-distance runners, this syndrome causes lateral knee pain. Management typically involves a combination of rest, stretching, and strengthening exercises, particularly for the hip abductors (Gupta et al., 2023).
- Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (Runner's Knee)
- This is characterized by pain around the kneecap and is common in runners. Long-term solutions include strengthening exercises for the quadriceps, hamstrings, and hip muscles, along with physical therapy focused on improving knee alignment and function (Prada and Irarrázaval, 2021).
- General Knee Injuries in Runners
- These can range from overuse injuries to acute trauma. Long-term management includes a balanced training regimen, proper warm-up and cool-down routines, and exercises aimed at enhancing the strength and flexibility of the knee joint and surrounding muscles (Cushman et al., 2020).
- Factors Influencing Pain and Injury
- Understanding factors like training intensity, running surface, and footwear can help in preventing knee injuries. Long-term strategies include adjusting these factors, alongside implementing strength and conditioning programs tailored to individual needs (Stachura and D?browska-Galas, 2018).
- Contemporary Approach to Patellofemoral Pain
- This approach involves biomechanical assessments and targeted interventions such as gait retraining, strength training, and flexibility exercises, aimed at addressing the specific causes of patellofemoral pain in runners (Esculier et al., 2020).
- Infrapatellar Fat Pad and Plica Injuries
- These less common injuries can cause significant pain and discomfort. Management includes targeted exercises, physical therapy, and in some cases, surgical intervention (McConnell, 2016).
Wearing knee compression sleeves can provide many benefits for your active lifestyle.
The compression sleeves provide stability, support, and a feeling of protection to the knees while they are being used during exercise. Knee compression sleeves can help reduce pain and make exercising more enjoyable.
- • Iliotibial Band Friction Syndrome: A Common Cause of Lateral Knee Pain in Long-Distance Runners, P. Gupta et al., Journal of Marine Medical Society, 2023.
- • Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (Runner's Knee), Carlos Prada and Sebastián Irarrázaval, Evidence-Based Orthopedics, 2021.
- • Knee Injuries in Runners, Daniel M. Cushman et al., 2020.
- • Factors Influencing the Occurrence of Pain and Injury in Runners, Katarzyna Karina Stachura and Magdalena D?browska-Galas, 2018.
- • A Contemporary Approach to Patellofemoral Pain in Runners, Jean-Francois Esculier et al., Journal of Athletic Training, 2020.
- • Running Injuries: The Infrapatellar Fat Pad and Plica Injuries, Jenny McConnell, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Clinics of North America, 2016.
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