Using Knee Sleeves for Deadlift: Pros & Cons

Pain and injuries can cause you to stop lifting, which is actually more detrimental to your health. So, instead, it’s better to take the right precautions and use tools such as knee sleeves and protect your joints, so you can lift for years to come.

Should you deadlift in knee sleeves? Deadlift is an exercise that can cause pain to your knee and test the integrity of the joint, especially if it’s previously hurt. So, it’s best to use knee sleeves with deadlift as they provide pain relief and help secure the joint.

Weightlifter Wearing Knee Sleeves Deadlifting

What Are Lifting Sleeves?

Knee sleeves are a tool lifters use in order to provide warmth and compression to their knees. This can help increase the blood flow in that area and allow for better stability and recovery.

Another way to think about lifting sleeves is to view them as a tool that limits further damage to your knee joint, as it can reduce pain and discomfort.

Knee sleeves can aid with lifts such as the squat, deadlift, clean, and snatch, as those movements require knee bend and put pressure on the knee joint, so the knee sleeve acts as a protective tool for keeping your joints safe.

Benefits of Deadlifting with Knee Sleeves

Weightlifter Wearing Knee Sleeves Deadlifting

Provides Knee Support

Explosive and heavy movement can put extra pressure on your knee, causing it pain and discomfort. When that occurs, the structural integrity of the knee can be damaged. In order to avoid that, a knee sleeve provides great knee support to the joint, because of its tight and snug fit keeps the knee in a proper structural position during the lift.

Also, the knee sleeve can aid your lifting technique. For example, with a deadlift, it’s important to sit back into a strong and comfortable position which allows your glutes and hamstrings to work. Some find it difficult to get into this position due to the knee bend this requires. A knee sleeve can help support the knee so you can get into the proper deadlifting position.

Provides Knee Compression

Maybe the most important benefit of a knee sleeve is that it provides compression to the joint. What compression does is that it increases blood flow in the compressed area, which helps reduce pain and swelling.

The way a knee sleeve works is that the compression helps reduce lactic acid in the muscle area. This‌ increases blood flow, along with oxygen in that area, resulting in better recovery.

Typically, you want to wear your knee sleeves during your warm ups, so the blood flow is ongoing. This will reduce knee pain and get the joint prepared for the lifts to come. So, when you begin your working sets for deadlifts, you can do so with confidence.

It’s especially a good idea if you already have a previous injury or suffer from knee discomfort. So, by using deadlift knee sleeves, you can counter further damage.

Weightlifter Wearing Knee Sleeves Deadlifting

Helps With Knee Recovery

Injuries are part of lifting. If you’ve lifted long enough, even with proper technique, you’re bound to have some pain and injuries. But, instead of stopping, the best thing you can do is ‌continue to do those physical activities in a safer manner.

Which is why knee sleeves are a must for those who have dealt with past knee issues. As mentioned before, not only do the knee sleeves aid with technique, but the compression helps with recovery as well.

So, when deadlifting, knee sleeves can take your mind away from possibly hurting your knees, to focusing on the lift.

Provides Joint Warmth

A big advantage of the knee sleeve is that it helps keep the joint warm. If you allow yourself to cool down too much in between exercises or sets, you increase the chances of injury. Which is why it’s important to stay warm.

 But, with strength training and exercises like the deadlift, you might need several minutes to recover in between sets. So, having a knee sleeve on, your knee joint stays warm and lubricated, lowering the chances of injury when you go for another set.

Helps Protect Your Shins

If you’ve been deadlifting for a while, it’s not uncommon to get scraps and bruises on your shin, and even draw some blood when performing the exercise. The reason for this is that a proper deadlift requires you to keep the barbell as close to your body as you can in order to keep yourself in a strong and safe position.

This can result in the barbell scraping against your shins as you lift it off the floor. So, deadlifting with knee sleeves can act as a protective guard as the barbell travels upward.

This saves you from unnecessary cleaning and keeps your shins healthy and bruise free.

Can Give You Confidence

Exercises like the deadlift can be as mentally challenging as they are physically. The reason for this is twofold. Either the weight on the bar is daunting for some, or a lifter has previously experienced an injury from the lift. Both of these mental hurdles can be overcome with the use of a knee sleeve.

The security a knee sleeve provides allows you to better tackle heavier weights. While the warmth and compression elevates knee pain, so you’re not thinking about past injuries.

But, knee sleeves only act as a temporary solution in this case. Real confidence is built within, but the knee sleeves can aid you in that process and get you started.

Possible Drawbacks of Wearing Knee Sleeves for Deadlift

Athlete Wearing Knee Sleeves

Over Reliance On Knee Sleeves

As mentioned before, knee sleeves are great for reducing pain and helping the knee be more secure, but it’s not a substitute for things like massages, stretching, and mobility drills. Lifters can rely too heavily on the knee sleeve to protect their joints because it feels good and ignore other vital recovery and injury prevention tools.

So, the benefit from the knee sleeves can be undone because of the lack of time spent properly warming up the joint beforehand, and using other recovery tools after the workout is completed.

Can Cause Skin Irritation

The whole purpose of a knee sleeve is to be worn tightly and this can cause some individuals to feel skin irritation as the knee sleeve material rubs against their skin during the lift.

Also, the sweat generated in a singular area due to the knee sleeve can potentially cause infections such as yeast infection. Another drawback might be if you have medical conditions like diabetes, the compression element of a knee sleeve might not be good for your skin.

So, if you experience these symptoms, you might be out of luck because having a knee sleeve that isn’t too tight will take away from the benefits of the knee sleeve‌.

Doesn’t Aid the Lift

Knee sleeves have many benefits, but one thing it fails to do is actually aid in lifting heavier weight during the deadlift. The reason for this is that a knee sleeve doesn’t create a lot of tension when you bend your knee, so it doesn’t give you a boost up from the bottom position. This is even more true for a deadlift where the knee bend is already minimal.

So, if you’re looking for a tool to help you lift more weight during the exercise, a knee sleeve is probably not the best option.

So, if you’re wondering, do knee sleeves help deadlift? The quick answer is no.

Although the confidence boost of a knee sleeve might be valuable enough to use it while performing the exercise.

What to Look for in Knee Sleeves for Deadlifting

  • A typical knee sleeve comes between XS to XL where the sizes vary between 10" and 15" inches. You should be able to find a size that matches your needs.
  • While the width of a knee sleeve is typically either 2" or 3". This allows for proper knee compression.
  • For materials, knee sleeves require thicker materials like Neoprene, polyester, cotton, nylon, and spandex, in order to get the compression element of the sleeve.

Deadlift Sleeves We Recommend

We recommend the STOIC Knee Sleeves for your knee sleeve needs.

The 7mm thick neoprene material provides extra heat retention and compression, which is optimal for knee pain reduction and protection.

The neoprene material has a triple reinforced seam, which is long lasting and can handle the wear and tear of any kind of workout.

A speciality of this knee sleeve is that it comes in 30cm length, which is ideal to cover your knee completely, and provide some protection for your shins, especially when you’re doing deadlifts.

STOIC Knee Sleeves


Are Knee Sleeves Considered Cheating?

Knee sleeves are allowed in every major powerlifting or Olympic weightlifting competition because you cannot reinforce a knee sleeve. So, the sleeve doesn’t actually aid in how much weight you can lift during the exercise. Rather, its primary purpose is to provide support and aid in joint recovery.

Do Knee Sleeves Weaken Knees?

A knee sleeve doesn’t weaken the knee because it doesn’t interfere with the range of motion of the knee. Typically, knee weakness stems from improper mobility in the joint, causing the muscle to atrophy. But, the knee sleeve allows for full mobility, so the joint and the muscle surrounding it are still working properly during the lift, resulting in no harm to the knee.

Should You Use Knee Wraps for Deadlifts?

Knee wraps wouldn’t be ideal for deadlifts because a deadlift requires minimal knee bend. The purpose of a knee wrap is to store energy and tension as you bend your knee, for example, during a squat, so when you come back up, that tension releases and aids you in getting up with more weight. But the lack of knee bend during a deadlift doesn’t allow for optimal tension storage, so a knee wrap wouldn’t be of much use.


Weightlifter Wearing Knee Sleeves

If you use the knee sleeve correctly, the pros far outweigh the cons. The knee sleeves will keep your joints protected, provide pain relief, and even aid with the technical part of the lift, which are all necessary for long term lifting goals.

Also read:


  • Do Knee Sleeves Work? // Verywell Fit:
  • What All Squatters Knee'd To Know //

My name is Oleksiy Torokhtiy. I am a professional athlete with 20 years of experience in Olympic weightlifting. I have won multiple European, and World titles and have taken part in two Olympic Games (Beijing 2008, London 2012).

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