image description

How Compression Sleeves Work and When to Wear Them

Any athlete knows the frustration that comes along with an injury — there's nothing worse than sitting out training sessions or games to recover. And with the pressure put on knees during exercise, it's no wonder that those joints are especially susceptible to issues. But the compression technology used in other athletic clothing such as tights and sports bras is also being applied to compression knee sleeves, helping to prevent injuries — and that valuable recovery time — in every sportsperson.


female athlete wearing CW-X compression knee sleeve

The Rise of Compression Knee Sleeves

Compression sleeves for the knee have been growing in popularity in recent years, especially among athletes and fitness enthusiasts. That's because the knees are one of the most common areas of chronic pain due to a variety of factors including injury, arthritis, or strain caused by improper movement during physical activity. Wearing a compression knee sleeve can help you stay active and pain-free by providing extra support to the joint, making you more comfortable on the move while alleviating inflammation.


Knee sleeves differ from knee braces, which are used for recovery following an injury and limit movement to enhance recovery. Sleeves, on the other hand, can be worn by all athletes as extra support and provide more flexibility than braces for a full range of movement during exercise.


graphic icon for compression knee sleeve

How Do Compression Sleeves Work?

Knee sleeves work by compressing that area of the body, providing added stability to the joint during exercise — especially lifting, running, HIIT classes, basketball, soccer, or other activities that put extra pressure on the knees — without restricting flexibility. This layer of security helps to prevent injuries such as strains, sprains, and tears in addition to pain relief.


Benefits of Wearing Compression Sleeves

Even if you've never had knee issues, wearing a compression knee sleeve can enhance your sports performance by increasing kinesthesia, the sense that lets us perceive the location and movement of parts of the body. That awareness can help prevent injury (or further injury) during a wide range of activities.


In addition to providing extra support to the joint, knee sleeves provide the benefits of compression gear — reduced swelling, pain relief, and improved blood circulation, helping to fight off lactic acid that builds up during exercise and the resulting soreness.


Some also believe that the heat from wearing a compression sleeve is also a benefit, ensuring the joint and surrounding muscles are ready for a workout. At the same time, knee sleeves should be made of breathable and moisture-wicking fabric to keep the body dry during the toughest sweat sessions.


When to a Wear Compression Sleeve

Knee compression sleeves shouldn't be worn all day. Instead, wear one while exercising or doing a task in your daily routine that puts extra pressure on your knee joints (such as lifting and moving heavy boxes). Some activities where you might want to consider a compression knee sleeve include jumping, running, high-intensity sports, or weightlifting. A sleeve can help you perform longer — while still keeping you safe.


Even though you only need to wear a compression knee sleeve during the workout, the effects will last far beyond your time in the gym. By protecting the joint with additional stability and increasing blood flow, your recovery time will likely benefit.


male athlete wearing CW-X compression sleeve

Choosing the Right Compression Sleeve

When choosing a knee compression sleeve, the fit should be snug (and definitely not falling down during movement) yet comfortable and easy to put on and take off. In addition, the sleeve should not limit your range of motion — you should be able to move your leg as you normally would, just with a little extra support. Since every manufacturer is different, be sure to check the size guide when buying online or when you can't try it on first, and if needed, ask for help measuring your knee circumference to ensure no returns are necessary.


You should find a knee sleeve made of breathable material, which can help reduce odors so you can get more use between washes, and moisture-wicking fabric to keep the body dry while sweating.


male and female athlete wearing CW-X compression knee sleeves

For extra support, CW-X's knee compression sleeves — with options for both women and men — feature patented EXO-WEB technology, which mimics kinesiology-taping techniques that trainers apply to injured muscles. When this technology is applied to muscles and joints, it creates an exoskeletal support system that improves biomechanics.


Compression clothing — including tights, sports bras, and socks — is a key part of any athlete's workout routine, and knee sleeves are vital in helping to prevent injuries on one of the most vulnerable joints. Paired with proper technique and training, compression knee sleeves add an extra layer of stability to help you achieve your fitness goals without taking additional time off to recover.