3 Effective Ways to Put On Tight Knee Sleeves

Knee sleeves can be great additions to your supportive strength arsenal, but at times, they can be a major pain to get on, especially when they’re tight.

For most knee sleeve wearing athletes, more than likely they already have a means of getting sleeves on, so this article will likely not be for them. But if you’re newer to using knee sleeves, or want to explore potentially better ways of putting them on, then read on.

One of the biggest nuisances of tight knee sleeves is getting them in the right position without slipping and sliding at the start of their use. This use could be pre warm-up, or before the start of working sets, as everyone likes to put on their sleeves at different times. For example, if you like putting on sleeves once you’ve broken a sweat, or wear them over tights & compression pants, then positioning them can be a bit tough at times.

1. Tight Knee Sleeves

The first method is the most common, and more than likely you’ve seen this before. This method works best for tight, longer neoprene sleeves like the SBD and STrong sleeves. Basically, you’ll roll the top of the sleeve down to about a third or half of the sleeve’s length (whatever you prefer to grab), then pull it up until the bottom of the sleeve is in position on your shin wear you like it.

Once the bottom is in the correct position, twist the sleeve accordingly so it sits straight on the leg and roll up the top. This should put the sleeve in the proper position, but if it’s a bit off, it’s much easier to adjust from here.

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2. Knee Sleeves After Warming Up

This next method is incredibly useful for those who like to break a sweat before pulling up their sleeves. Powerlifter Sammi Johnson published a great Instagram video that features a sneaky trick to get tight sleeves on after you’ve been warming-up, or just for times you need a little assistance pulling them up.

For this method, you’re going to take a plastic bag that’s been ripped, so it’s a flat piece of plastic and wrap it around your shin. Next, you’ll pull the sleeve over the bag using a roll down and pull technique. This way the sleeve and bag are easy to grab as a whole and it the sleeve can utilize the bag to reduce sliding friction on the leg. Once you’ve pulled up the sleeve and it’s in position, you’ll pull the bag out from underneath and repeat for the other side.

3. Knee Sleeves Over Leggings

The final video below is for the population of strength athlete that likes to squat and lift in compression pants, 3/4 pants, or leggings. Often times, this will be weightlifters, athletes who train in colder gym settings, or those who simply prefer compression pants (such as Virus etc) when working out.

For this method, powerlifter Stefi Cohen highlights that the key to success is what you do with your leggings before pulling the sleeve up. She advises pulling the leggings over the foot, then sliding the sleeve over. This creates an anchor for the pants, so they don’t get bunched up when pulling up the sleeve using the roll down and pull technique.

Wrapping Up

At the end of the day, wasting time and energy to put on sleeves every work out is counterproductive. For most, this article isn’t going to be groundbreaking information, but hopefully it can provide some athletes with a few new options to put on sleeves they may have not seen or tried before.

Feature image from @nopantssammi Instagram page. 

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Jake holds a Master's in Sports Science and a Bachelor's in Exercise Science. Currently, Jake serves as one of the full time writers and editors at BarBend. He's a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and has spoken at state conferences on the topics of writing in the fitness industry and building a brand. As of right now, Jake has published over 1,100 articles related to strength athletes and sports. Articles about powerlifting concepts, advanced strength & conditioning methods, and topics that sit atop a strong science foundation are Jake's bread-and-butter. On top of his personal writing, Jake edits and plans content for 15 writers and strength coaches who come from every strength sport.Prior to BarBend, Jake worked for two years as a strength and conditioning coach for hockey and lacrosse players, and was a writer at the Vitamin Shoppe's corporate office. Jake regularly competes in powerlifting in the 181 lb weight class, and considers himself a weightlifting shoe sneaker head. On the side of writing full time, Jake works as a part-time strength coach and works with clients through his personal business Concrete Athletics in Hoboken and New York City.