After waking up this damp and rainy Saturday morning and grabbing a nice little cup of tea, I did my usual blog reading. Today, I went with one of my favorites, Breaking Muscle, and will usually scroll through or read particular authors I enjoy (Chris Holder, Mike Dewar, and Andrew Read to name a few). I stumbled upon an article about the benefits of wearing knee sleeves and distinguishing preventative from protective knee wear, written by Katie Chasey and titled “The Advantages of Knee Sleeves: What They Are and When to Wear Them”
›Competitive lifters, average gym-goers, sport athletes, or anywhere in between on the spectrum…don’t ignore safety! Too often, people will push through musculoskeletal pain, thinking of it as nothing more than some extra soreness from lifting. Uh, yeah! Pain is usually an indicator of either a current problem, or a warning to potentially prevent an injury from happening. Walking, stepping, jumping, squatting, biking on and on; your knees can compile a fair amount of use just by everyday life outside of the gym. Many of the actions we will do throughout the day place stress on particular areas of the body. The more efficiently you can move through those tasks, the safer and stronger you will be. Now before I start going off on a tangent, let’s bring it back to the knees…
ACL/ALL, MCL, PCL, meniscus, and cartilage damages, tears, or any other injury are becoming all too common lately. With the growing demand to compete and reach higher levels of competition, overworking your body is something that doesn’t seem like too big of a deal. After potentially modifying technique, reducing some workload, and maybe receiving some alternative form of medicine, you feel better, but want to help keep it that way. Well well, here is a (potentially) perfect way to add some safety and style to your lifting routine. You might have seen someone training with some snazzy, gains enhancing knee sleeves, like these (personally, the most bad-ass looking ones on the market)
and questioned why you haven’t been wearing them. Before going out and spending upwards of $100 on some gear, it is important to think of your current well-being and what types will benefit you the most.
There are four categories for general knee braces:
- Knee sleeves*
- Prophylactic knee braces
- Functional knee braces
- Postoperative or rehabilitation braces
Prophylactic braces are best for reducing knee stiffness, and to support the ACL, PCL and LCL while protecting the MCL. These braces are large, and constructed with bars and hinges to protect the knee from sports damage. Many football linemen will be seen on the field wearing these. Functional knee braces are best suited for post ACL reconstructive surgery and are designed to increase knee stability while performing activities that place stress on the ligaments of the knee, but are not specific to help athletic performance. Postoperative knee braces say it all in the name, being designed to help maintain protection and stabilization of the knee after an invasive surgery. Lastly, knee sleeves are technically not braces, but they make it to this list since they are the most relevant option for athletes (and most of the population) to look for. The main differences between the two are, from reading above, you can see knee braces are to protect a previous injury from reoccurring whereas knee sleeves protect the knee and are made to prevent future injury or damage. Specifically, they stabilize the patella and surrounding structures. On top of that, another cool fact is that sleeves provide minor compression to the joint to increase blood flow and will reduce overall pain, both for during and after training.
Sleeves are not a cure all for knee pain, just as much as a band-aid wont help heal a huge gash. Improving form and technique, training smart, and helping your body repair should be areas of focus to ultimately decrease chances of injury. For new or infrequent lifters, I would not consider them a necessity since the pressure on your knees most likely will not be substantial. However, if you are an advanced lifter, putting some money aside to pick up a pair could be a smart decision. I did not begin to wear knee sleeves until about 18 months ago and it was a great decision to start. Once I began squatting well bellow parallel (not tooting my own horn, but I have pretty damn good joint mobility) my knees were not used to the added stress and would sometimes feel structurally sore after heavy or long workouts. I use the Rehband 7751 and LOVE them! They don’t slip during workouts, they have not affected my range of motion, and they serve their exact purpose. I have also seen other lifters wearing other brands like Rocktape, Slingshot, or SBD. Most companies will offer some money back guarantee if a style does not fit the way you expected, so I encourage trying a few products to see which type will best fit your knee-ds (*ba-dum-tss*). I promise you won’t be disappointed with picking up a pair, seeing how thy only bring a new tool to the equipment box. Be Happy. Be Active. Be Healthy!