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Anyone who is familiar with bodybuilding, powerlifting, and generally athletics of any kind is going to also be familiar with knee pain. Because of the constant strain placed on our knees, it is no surprise that it would result in the pain we may become well acquainted with. Unfortunately, when this pain goes untreated, the result can lead to even worse knee pain, or in a worst-case scenario an injury that requires surgery.

Whether you are recovering or just looking to maintain proper knee health, it is important to keep in mind the fact that there are options. Some rest, stretches, and massages can do wonders for the body, but most athletes see injuries constantly flaring up. Because of this, many of them turn to knee sleeves.



If you’ve ever gone to a gym, odds are you’ve seen at least one person rocking a knee sleeve or two, especially when squatting. Though they can give added support for regular use throughout the day while in recovery, they are also excellent for regular use in the gym to maintain proper knee health.

Knee sleeves all generally serve the same purpose, while also offering different functional benefits. But of these, which is best?



Let’s dive deeper to figure out which one is best for you.


Understanding Sleeves

As mentioned, knee sleeves serve a few different proven purposes. It has been shown to improve the pain associated with osteoarthritis, and you will often find people using sleeves and braces to help with the pain. It also provides relief for those athletes who are regularly using their knees, such as runners, in feeling the pain be alleviated. To put it simply, it helps with pain, which is fairly common knowledge.

If providing some relief from pain was not a compelling enough reason to consider a knee sleeve, it has been shown to help with overall functionality of the knee joint. This means better and more efficient motions can be made when using a knee brace. Your joints will stay healthier and pain will be less likely and possibly avoidable all together.


What to Look For

When it comes to knee sleeves, it is pretty straightforward as to what you want to be getting out of your product selection. Yes, it should compress your knee, but there is just a bit more to consider.

Firstly, you want to make sure that it is made with the right materials. Specifically, you want it to be anti-bacterial. There are a number of materials upon which bacteria grows easily, so what your sleeve is made out of matters.

To understand why, consider who is using knee sleeves most: athletes. They sweat, which feeds bacteria further promoting the growth resulting in foul smells. Bacteria is often the cause of infection and breakouts on the skin, so it’s important to be able to maintain a certain level of cleanliness.

Having an antimicrobial material or treatment on a sleeve can be incredibly beneficial. So when making your selection make sure somewhere the brand disclosing the use of anti-microbial materials or treatments, such as neoprene.

The second, and most important thing to consider is the thickness of the knee sleeve. You may be wanting to purchase a knee sleeve for a number of reasons, and depending on the reason, you need to know the difference in thickness.

Though the exact girth of all the sleeves that are out there will vary, there are a few sizes that are most commonly found. Each of these sizes can provide you with excellent support, but they will benefit you more in different ways.


Knee Sleeve Thickness

Because this is the most important aspect of a knee sleeve, we are going to look through the different most common thicknesses found on the market. They serve a few different purposes and this is where you will really need to know how to make your choice.

1. 5mm
Possibly the most commonly used thickness, 5mm sleeves are mid-ground-thickness, falling between the thicker and thinner options available. For anyone new to lifting weights or knee sleeves, this is a great option when introducing yourself to knee support. They can also be used for other activities beyond just lifting weights. It helps to prevent your muscles from being strained and to keep any potential for swelling away.

It is important to note that they are less flexible than thinner options, and will be notably stiffer. This means that you won’t feel as free with certain movements depending on what your goal is. With that in mind, when it comes to any sort of motion such as squatting or lunging, you will feel the extra support that is there for your knees.

However, depending on what you want you may need more support from a thicker band. If you lift extra heavy, such as powerlifters do, a 5 millimeter may not be enough support over time. The amount that you need will come down to how it feels when using one or the other. This is why trying a medium-thickness sleeve is a good idea for anyone. It is a great way to see if you need more support. If you are worried about spending more money on a product than necessary just remember that the 5mm sleeve can be used for a greater variety than other options. It may have limits, but it is the perfect first sleeve to try.


2. 7mm
Most likely the thickest option you’ll find, the 7mm knee sleeve is widely popular in the world of weightlifting, powerlifting, and those who participate in high-intensity workouts. Among the athletes of the world, they tend to put the most strain on their bodies, lifting for long hours and utilizing incredible amounts of weight. Because of the taxing nature of their exercises, it goes without saying they require all the support they can get.

It is almost poetic that these sleeves require someone of a certain strength to be able to pull them on. They are notably firmer than thinner options. Depending on how many hundreds of pounds you are squatting, deadlifting, or snatching, you may feel less confident in your ability to be able to perform the exercise. With knee sleeves that have the right thickness, you’ll be able to push through a whole range of motion without the fear of your knees giving out.

If you are not into the more intense forms of working out like CrossFit or powerlifting, it may be best to go for a knee sleeve that can handle the same intensity as you.


3. 3mm
Lighter, more flexible knee sleeves serve more specific purposes. While a 3mm knee sleeve offers some compression, it should be noted that the support they provide for your knee is a bit more minimal in most cases.

For what they lack in support, they make up for in the greater range of motion and flexibility they provide. For those who are more into running and various cardio exercises, this is perfect. Keeping the knee area warm can help prevent certain aches from occurring while running.

Endurance athletes and those who play sports love lighter knee sleeves because they help keep the knees warm. In some cases, they can provide a bit of support, which is helpful depending on the nature of one’s movements. Generally, however, an athlete who does more intense workouts should reach for a thicker support sleeve.


The Best Option

The reality is, the best choice comes down to what you need. The right thickness will depend on your training level and the way you train. If you are unsure, starting in the middle is a great choice. From there you can figure out if you would like more or less support.

When you know the best thickness for you, it’s time to figure out where to buy it from. Plenty of brands are available and with all the different ways in which we can purchase online, it can be easy to get a junk product.

Regardless of your needs, EXO Sleeve offers all the options and reliability. All their sleeves offer anti-microbial benefits and a variety of sizes. They have three different thicknesses which are their 5 millimeter, their 7 millimeter, and their light knee sleeves. Each one really sets the standard for what to expect in a quality knee sleeve. Even their lighter option provides a bit more support than most lighter sleeves.

Whether you are looking for a thinner option for long cardio exercises, or need something thicker for powerlifting, EXO Sleeve Knee Sleeves provide an option anywhere on the spectrum. Try out a sleeve and see the difference it makes in your knee joints. You’ll feel improvements in your overall functionality as well as the pain you are experiencing.

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