How to Measure for Knee Sleeves: The Simple 4-Step Guide

An image of a man putting on knee sleeves with a measuring tape and a brand new pair of knee sleeves next to him to signify how to measure for knee sleeves

Looking to get a new set of knee sleeves and don’t want to risk the hassle of sending the wrong-sized sleeves back? Or even worse, trying to train in the wrong-sized sleeves!

I’ve done both and suffered the consequences!

Luckily, you don’t have to be like me.

Below is your complete 5-step guide to the perfect-sized knee sleeves.

Correct-fitting knee sleeves might only be part of your solution. Be sure to investigate the impact a knee massager can have and checkout the best knee massagers and compression knee massagers on the market.

Let’s get into it!

TL;DR

How to Measure for Knee Sleeves

  1. Get the Right Tool – Measuring Tape
  2. Find the Sweet Spot – Above, Below or Across the Knee
  3. Put Your Leg in the Right Position – Straight or 30 Degree Bend
  4. Measure Your Knee – Snug and not tight
  5. Pick from the Size Chart – Check the Brand Specific Chart

The Cost if you Don’t Measure for Knee Sleeves the Right Way

I’ve made mistakes at both ends of this scale before learning how to measure properly. If you get the measurements wrong you’re gonna end up with sleeves that are either too big or too small. Either way, it makes them useless and the next stage is the pain of trying to send them back for a refund or exchange.

Too Small

You either won’t be able to get them on or they will be so tight that they cut off your circulation within seconds, my first set of Inzers ErgoPro was that tight that it took me 10 minutes (and help from a mate) to get them on, then within 30 seconds my legs started going numb from my claves down.

Too Big

At this end of the scale they will offer little to no support. They will be prone to slipping down your leg during the workout and/or bunching at the knee.

The moral of the story is make sure you get your measurements nailed on.

4-Step Measuring Techniques for Knee Sleeves

Step 1: Find the Right Spot to Measure

Photo of Flexible Tape to emphasis the importance of using the right measurement tool when measuring your knee's for knee sleeves

Grab a flexible tape measure. The flexibility means the tape can freely move around the shape of your knee, giving you an accurate measurement. Make sure the tape measure has units in either inches or centimetres, depending on the size scale of the sleeves you’re looking to buy.

There are 3 measurement spots for knee sleeves;

  • Circumference Above the Knee
  • Below the Knee
  • Across the Knee 
Image showing the exact position for the measuring tape across the knee to measure for knee sleeve sizes

Most thicker/lifting sleeves take their measurement across the kneecap. Compression knee sleeves tend to measure above the knee. 

Make sure you either take and record all 3 measurements or pick the brand of sleeve before measuring and check the size chart to know which part of the leg you are measuring

Step 2: Put Your Leg in the Right Position

The main positions are Straight leg and 30 degree bend in the knee.

Straight Knee

Image showing leg with the knee in a straight position to illustrate how to measure for knee sleeves in the straight leg position

Bent Knee

Image showing leg with the knee in 30 degree bend position to illustrate how to measure for knee sleeves in the bend knee position

Most stiffer sleeves (7mm+,) such as SBD and Inzer ErgoPro, require a straight leg measurement around the knee.

Compression Knee Sleeves, such as Mava Sport, require a bend in the knee (Approximately 30degree) and take the measurement 17cm/6.7 inches above the knee.

Step 3: Measure Your Knee

Wrap the tape around your knee so it is a snug fit then record the measurement.

If you wrap too tight you’ll order sleeves that are too small and too loose. If you wrap too loose you’ll order sleeves that are too big.

Get a mate to help you with this, where possible. 

Take the measurement a couple of times and use the average length.

Remember to measure both legs. If there’s a large difference between legs consider buying individual sleeves to match the size of each leg.

Step 4: Pick from the Size Chart

Find your the sizing chart in the image section of the sleeves (When buying online) or on the back of the pack (When buying from the store).

Find the measurement area of the knee (Upper, middle, or lower) and match your measurement to the right size.

For example if your measurement across the knee is 38cm and 36-40cm is large then you go for large size.

Image showing the important areas of a knee sleeve size chart, highlighted in red circles

What if your measurement falls in between the sizes?  For example your knee measurement is 40cm and Large = 36-40cm and XL = 40-44cm.

In the above example you go for the smaller size to ensure you get good compression, and reduced slipping and bunching.

Varying Knee Sleeve Size Charts

Be aware that size charts can vary a lot between brands. Make sure you check the specific chart provided by the manufacturer of your chosen knee sleeve. One brand’s medium could be another brand’s small.

Expert Tips for Perfect Fit

  • If your knees measure different Sizes go for the average. If there is a large difference consider Brands like Rebrands that sell the sleeves individually and buy the sleeves size for each knee.
  • In between Sizes? Go down a size. Better to have a bit extra compression that you can break in than be too loose with less support, risk of slipping and bunching
  • If your calf is more than 4cm (1.6in) larger than your knee consider going up a size.

How to Pick The Right Knee Sleeve

  1. Budget: Establish a reasonable budget for your purchase.
  2. Knee Measurements: Armed with your new measuring skills, obtain accurate knee dimensions.
  3. Workout Type: Determine whether you’ll be doing heavy lifting or more functional, lighter workouts.
  4. Material Thickness: Choose a thinner material for greater range of motion and a thicker one for more substantial support.
  5. Pick your Style: Anime? Plain? Bright? Anime wrist wraps and belt to match your sleeves? Pick the style that suits your vibe
  6. Customer Reviews: Always consult reviews to gauge the effectiveness and quality of the knee sleeves.

Once you have the best sleeves, make sure they last by cleaning them the right way.

Benefits of Choosing the Correct Size and Thickness for Knee Sleeves

When you get the size right  you open the door to the following knee sleeve benefits;

Warmth: The compressive nature of knee sleeves enhances blood circulation to the knee area, making the knee joint warm quicker.

Joint Support: Knee sleeves offer additional lateral support to the knee joint, ensuring proper alignment and movement during physical activities.

Injury Prevention: By keeping the knee warm and promoting correct joint movement, knee sleeves aid in reducing the risk of injuries.

Bounce Back: 7mm neoprene knee sleeves and thicker can provide a rebound effect at the lowest point of your squat, aiding in a more powerful return back to the standing position. This is highly valued in the weightlifting, powerlifting and bodybuilding circles. 5mm will offer you more mobility but little to no bounce back.

Wrapping Up

So, you’ve followed the sizing guide and used your trusty tape measure to measure the circumference of your knee.

If you’re hovering in the “in-between sizes” zone, opt for the smaller size. A snug fit is your ally in ensuring optimal blood flow and joint support, especially during heavy lifting or an intense CrossFit WOD.

If you’re torn between 7mm sleeves and 5mm sleeves, remember that thickness matters. The 7mm option is ideal for powerlifting, while the 5mm offers greater mobility for those burpees and box jumps.

In summary, measure twice, consult the chart and choose wisely. Whether you’re into powerlifting, CrossFit, or just wearing knee sleeves for injury recovery, make sure you get the best fit for optimal support and stability. 

If knee sleeves are part of a home gym armoury you’re building, we’ve covered you with the home gym essentials.

FAQ’s

What is the best size for knee sleeves?

The best size for knee sleeves is one that fits snugly around your knee without cutting off circulation. Consult the manufacturer’s size chart and measure the circumference of your knee for the most accurate fit.

How do I know what size knee support to get?

Measure the circumference of your knee, usually around the center of your patella, and refer to the product’s sizing chart to determine the correct size.

How should a knee sleeve fit?

A knee sleeve should fit snugly but not so tight that it restricts blood flow. It should offer support without causing discomfort.

What is the difference between 5mm and 7mm knee sleeves?

5mm knee sleeves offer more flexibility and are suitable for dynamic activities like CrossFit. 7mm knee sleeves provide more support and are ideal for heavy lifting.

Should knee sleeves be tight or loose?

Knee sleeves should be snug for optimal support but not so tight that they restrict blood flow or cause discomfort.

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