Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Review of Popular Knee Sleeves

When it comes to weightlifting gear, knee sleeves are a popular item. It's likely you have seen athletes wear them in events and competitions.

Knee sleeves provide warmth in and around the knee joint which promotes local circulation. For an individual with minor injuries. the warmth can alleviate pain and make leg exercises tolerable. In contrast, knee wraps provide compression at the joint and positively affect performance while knee braces offer mechanical support.

So, are knee sleeves necessary? Not entirely - it's up to the lifter. For an individual with no issues, they can engage in exercise perfectly fine. Knee sleeves may offer comfort to an injured or older trainee. However, they aren't a 100% fix and some trainees might find the sleeves don't help as much as they'd like or if at all.

I opted to use knee sleeves after injuring one knee a few years back. These days I can perform squats fine without knee sleeves, but I stick with them for comfort.

That being said, knee sleeves range in a number of factors such as price, brand, and warmth. Depending on preferences, this can make choosing a pair more work than it should be. Therefore, I'll discuss popular knee sleeves I own or have had a chance to use.

The main points I'll be looking at are: material/fit, warmth, and price.

Having seen several Olympic weightlifters wear these, I purchased a pair in June. I would call these lightweight knee sleeves - adequate warmth, low price, and movement feels most natural with these. The fit is comfortable and as the knees become warm, the sleeves tighten around the leg. They can bunch up but that can be fixed easily.

Como sells single sleeves whereas hookgrip sells them as a pair with the sizing listed on the site. The second difference is the hookgrip logo is sewn on each sleeve - mine eventually came loose and I removed them. Lastly - while it's not a huge issue - be aware that as the bar slides up your thighs there will be a very small bump in movement from the logos.

These are a nice pick for someone who wants minimal support at a low cost.

FIT: Comfortable and tightens as knees warm up in training.

MATERIAL: Stretchy - hookgrip site lists it's a mix of nylon (55%), rubber (35%), and spandex (10%). Can be machine washed.

WARMTH: Adequate and absorbs sweat.

PRICE: For a pair, $12-14.

WHERE TO BUY: Hookgrip store here.

*Update: Here's a brief review I wrote of the newer sleeves from hookgrip:

Tommy Kono (TK)
This was the first pair of knee sleeves I bought. Reviews I read stated they either were better than the Rehbands, or were worse and tended to rip. I've had no issues with them. They're tight and take practice to put on [view this video here for help]. The rubber material on the inside gives a tighter feeling. For bilateral movements they perform okay, but they don't feel comfortable in single leg exercises.

If warmth is what you need, the TK's are it. When I use them my knees become very sweaty. For squats in particular, the perspiration would drip down my legs. This does cause them to shift and move around a bit. As a result, they needed to be adjusted here and there.

Overall, it's a good mid-priced knee sleeve, especially if keeping your knees warm is your main priority.

FIT: Tight and loosens slightly from sweat in training. Takes practice to wear quickly.

MATERIAL: Neoprene on the outside with rubber-like material on the inside. Has to be hand washed.

WARMTH: Very warm! Knees will become very sweaty.

PRICE: For a pair, $39.95 on Tommy Kono website and slightly less on Amazon.

WHERE TO BUY: Tommy Kono website here or Amazon here.

Rehband (Original)
Unlike the other two, I don't own Rehbands. My experience with them has been through Krank. The Krank coach for school athletes is a strongman competitor who uses them. He has used them for a long time with no problems. My more direct experience with Rehbands was when one of the Krank members bought a new pair and let me try them on. I instantly noticed it was comfortable and easy to slide on. It felt like a good mix between the Como/Hookgrip and TK knee sleeves.

Of course, the better quality comes at a higher price. Rehbands are one of the most expensive knee sleeves and are not sold in pairs. Therefore, the cost you see is for a single sleeve and most trainees are looking to purchase two.

If you want quality, long lasting, and see it as an investment, Rehband makes a great choice.

FIT: Comfortable.

MATERIAL: Neoprene inside and out. Can be machine washed.

WARMTH: Warm and absorbs sweat.

PRICE: For one sleeve, $39.95.

WHERE TO BUY: Amazon here.
Earlier I mentioned I started using knee sleeves because I injured a knee. As great and comforting as the knee sleeves were, they never fixed the issue. What did cause significant improvement for my knee was fixing my squat mechanics. Knee sleeves can be a great accessory item in your training, but know that you're moving correctly first.

Remember, knee sleeves can help you but they can't fix you.
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