7mm vs 5mm Knee Sleeves: Which is Better for You?

7mm vs 5mm Knee Sleeves: Which is Better for You?

In the world of fitness and athletics, knee sleeves have become an indispensable accessory for many individuals. These elastic garments provide support, stability, and protection to the knees during various physical activities.

If you're in the market for knee sleeves, you'll likely come across two popular options: 7mm and 5mm knee sleeves. But how do you decide which thickness is better suited for your needs?

In this blog, we'll delve into the nuances of 7mm and 5mm knee sleeves, comparing their benefits and helping you make an informed choice.

Understanding Knee Sleeves' Purpose

Before we go into the specifics, let's briefly discuss why knee sleeves matter.

Knee sleeves provide mild compression, warmth, and proprioceptive feedback to the knee joint. This helps reduce the risk of injuries, aids in injury recovery, and enhances overall performance. They are favoured by weightlifters, runners, cross-fitters, and athletes engaging in various sports.

Understanding 7mm Knee Sleeves

7mm knee sleeves are the heavy lifters of the knee sleeve world. Constructed with thicker neoprene material, they offer substantial support and stability, making them a preferred choice for powerlifting, Olympic lifting, and other activities involving heavy loads. The extra thickness provides a feeling of tightness around the knees, which can boost confidence during intense lifts.

Pros of 7mm Knee Sleeves:

  • Maximum Support: 7mm knee sleeves are ideal for those seeking maximum support during heavy lifts.
  • Stability Boost: The extra thickness contributes to enhanced joint stability, reducing the risk of lateral movement.
  • Injury Prevention: Suitable for individuals with a history of knee issues, as they offer strong preventive measures.

Cons of 7mm Knee Sleeves:

  • Limited Flexibility: The thickness might limit certain dynamic movements and flexibility.
  • Intense Heat Retention: Thicker material can lead to higher heat retention, which might be uncomfortable during extended workouts.

Exploring 5mm Knee Sleeves

5mm knee sleeves, on the other hand, strike a balance between support and flexibility. They are versatile and cater to a wider range of activities, from weightlifting to cardio workouts. The thinner material allows for better mobility while still providing adequate support to the knee joint.

Pros of 5mm Knee Sleeves:

  • Versatility: Suitable for a variety of activities, including weightlifting, running, and functional fitness.
  • Improved Mobility: The thinner material allows for a wider range of motion during exercises.
  • Breathability: 5mm knee sleeves offer better breathability, reducing the heat buildup compared to thicker options.

Cons of 5mm Knee Sleeves:

  • Limited Maximum Support: May not provide the same level of support as 7mm knee sleeves, especially during extremely heavy lifts.
  • Less Tightness: Some lifters prefer the tight sensation of thicker sleeves for added psychological benefit.

Support and Stability: 7mm vs. 5mm

The level of support and stability you require depends on the type of activity you engage in. If your focus is on powerlifting or weightlifting with heavy loads, 7mm knee sleeves might be your best bet. The thicker material and tightness can give you the confidence to tackle those challenging lifts without worrying about knee strain.

On the other hand, if you're someone who incorporates a mix of activities into your fitness routine, 5mm knee sleeves offer a practical solution. They provide sufficient support while allowing you to run, jump, and perform dynamic movements without feeling restricted.

Comfort and Flexibility

When it comes to comfort and flexibility, 5mm knee sleeves tend to shine. The thinner neoprene material conforms to the natural shape of the knee, providing a snug yet comfortable fit. This is especially beneficial during activities that require a significant range of motion, such as squats and lunges.

7mm knee sleeves, while excelling in support, can feel restrictive to some users. The added thickness can limit bending and stretching movements, which might affect exercises that demand agility and flexibility.

Injury Prevention and Recovery

Both 7mm and 5mm knee sleeves play a crucial role in injury prevention and recovery. The compression provided by knee sleeves increases blood flow to the area, promoting better circulation and reducing the risk of strains. Additionally, the warmth generated by the neoprene material aids in joint lubrication, enhancing overall knee health.

In terms of recovery, both types of knee sleeves can assist in reducing post-workout soreness and stiffness. They can be especially useful during rehabilitation exercises, providing gentle support during the recovery process.

Choosing the Right Sleeve for You

When deciding between 7mm and 5mm knee sleeves, consider your specific needs. If you're primarily engaged in heavy lifting and prioritise maximum support, 7mm knee sleeves could be your go-to choice. On the other hand, if you engage in a mix of activities and value flexibility, 5mm knee sleeves might be more suitable.

Factors to consider:

  • Type of Activity: Consider the primary physical activities you engage in.
  • Personal Comfort: Some individuals prefer the sensation of thicker sleeves, while others value mobility.
  • Injury History: If you have a history of knee issues, 7mm sleeves might provide added assurance.

Recommended 7mm Knee Sleeves

The Classic SBD Knee Sleeves

Manufactured with high grade 7mm neoprene, the SBD Knee Sleeves is designed to minimise the risk of injury and to aid performance. Relied on by strength athletes around the world, these 7mm knee sleeves are ideal for heavy training.

The SBD Powerlifting Knee Sleeves

The SBD Powerlifting Knee Sleeves are designed for competitive powerlifters looking for the maximum support from their sleeves. They allow for significantly greater compression throughout knee flexion to maximise support and confidence during maximal attempts, increasing top end performance.

Recommended 5mm Knee Sleeves

The SBD Weightlifting Knee Sleeves

SBD Weightlifting Knee Sleeves feature 5mm of neoprene and stretch fabric. Designed to provide compression and support through a greater range of motion.

Ideal when doing dynamic moves like weightlifting, or any other type sport where you need extra protection against injuries in your knee. 

Maintenance and Care

Regardless of thickness, proper maintenance ensures the longevity of knee sleeves. Regularly washing them and allowing them to air dry helps prevent odours and maintains their elasticity. Store them in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight to prevent material degradation.

For SBD knee sleeves, we highly encourage hand washing your knee sleeves with water or a mild detergent (or a specialist neoprene/wetsuit detergent), then allow the sleeves to air dry standing up.

Making Your Decision

In the battle of 7mm vs. 5mm knee sleeves, there's no definitive winner. The decision ultimately comes down to your specific needs, preferences, and activity types. If you're serious about heavy lifting, 7mm knee sleeves could be a game-changer. For a more versatile option that caters to various activities, 5mm knee sleeves are likely your best companion.


Both 7mm and 5mm knee sleeves offer unique advantages, and the better choice depends on your fitness goals and activities. Remember that knee sleeves are not a one-size-fits-all solution. Consider the pros and cons of each type, and most importantly, listen to your body's needs. Whether you're chasing personal records in the gym or conquering miles on the track, the right knee sleeves can be the supportive gear you need to perform your best.

If you're looking where to buy the best knee sleeves in the market, then look no further than SBD Ireland. Check out our complete range of knee sleeves online.

FAQs About Knee Sleeves

  1. Can I wear knee sleeves for running? Yes, 5mm knee sleeves are suitable for running as they provide support without restricting your movement.

  2. Do knee sleeves help with knee pain? Knee sleeves can provide compression and warmth that may alleviate minor knee discomfort. However, consult a healthcare professional for chronic pain.

  3. Are knee sleeves machine washable? Yes, knee sleeves can be machine washed. Use a gentle cycle and allow them to air dry.

  4. Can I wear knee sleeves all day? It's recommended to use knee sleeves during physical activities. Prolonged use may affect circulation.

  5. Do knee sleeves improve lifting performance? Yes, knee sleeves can improve lifting performance by offering joint stability and boosting confidence during heavy lifts.

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