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Knee Sleeves vs. Knee Wraps: Pros, Cons, and Differences

Knee sleeves and knee wraps are wearable devices that can relieve pain and accelerate recovery for those suffering from joint injuries and conditions. While these devices are popular for athletes or heavy exercisers, they can also be beneficial for those suffering from chronic joint pain.

If you’ve been searching for a device to help with joint pain, you’ve probably noticed that both knee sleeves and knee wraps are popular. But, what’s the difference between the two options, and which one should you pick? Read on for tips to help you find the best product.

Differences Between Knee Sleeves and Knee Wraps

Knee sleeves can be slid up over your knees. The fit of knee sleeves is singular, meaning the tightness of the material cannot be adjusted. The compression sleeve can be worn during activity to provide pain relief or post activity to aid in recovery. The compression of the device increases blood flood, warms up the connective tissue, and reduces swelling and pain.

Knee sleeves help to limit patella movement by providing lateral stability and increasing proprioception, which is also known as kinesthesia, your body’s ability to sense movement, location, and action.

A knee wrap is similar to a wrist wrap and is made with durable, elastic material. The material is designed to wrap around the knee which makes it easy to adjust. You can increase or decrease the tightness as you see fit to aid in your recovery. Knee wraps are best worn during activity to help your knees handle the stress of lifting heavy loads, such as during exercise. 

Knee wraps reduce the stress that is exerted on the quadriceps tendon. This area links to the patella and quadriceps. When you squat, your tendons pull the patella. Decreasing the tension on the tendon further aids in decreasing the chances of tearing the quads during heavy weight lifting.

Pros of Knee Sleeves

If you think knee sleeves are the best option for you, here are some pros to using knee sleeves:

  • Great for preventing injury
  • Can be worn during physical activity and allow for easy flow of movement
  • Come in a variety of knee sleeve sizes to find the right fit
  • Extremely easy to use and wear
  • Stay on your body well during workouts and activities

Cons of Knee Sleeves

As you consider knee sleeves, take note of a few downfalls of using this device:

  • Once you purchase your knee sleeve, you’re limited on the compression level as it is not adjustable
  • Not the best option if you have prior knee injuries or surgeries
  • Difficult to put on if you have already started sweating (it’s best to put them on before a workout)
  • Doesn’t provide the best support for heavy lifting exercise routines
  • Requires proper care to ensure durability and must be washed regularly

Pros of Knee Wraps

If you’re considering knee wraps instead of sleeves, these are the pros you can enjoy: 

  • Can add 15–30% to your weight lift capacity
  • Can adjust the compression as you need to
  • Provides the best support if you have suffered previous knee injuries or surgeries
  • Provide support when during heavy lifting activities

Cons of Knee Wraps

While knee wraps have great pros, here are a few cons to consider:

  • Can only use knee wraps for select workouts, such as heavy lifting
  • Wrapping the knee can come with a learning curve and requires a bit of skill to get the best fit
  • When not worn tight enough, a knee wrap can increase the risk of injury
  • Can be uncomfortable to wear and potentially cause bruising


If you need a device that will help you find relief from knee pain, knee sleeves or knee wraps can be great options for you. Consider what type of activity you’ll be participating in and what kind of care your knee requires. That is the best way to determine which option will be the best one for you.

If you do have challenges with chronic knee pain, it’s always a good idea to talk with your doctor or physical therapist. They will be able to guide you on the best recommendations for a wearable device that can limit and relieve knee pain.

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