Knee Sleeves Vs. Knee Wraps Which Is Best for Squats?
One of the most vital elements when doing any exercise is that you stay safe and injury free. Given the fact that the knee is one of the most commonly injured joints in the body, combined with the pressure which squatting puts on the knee joint, it is highly advisable that you take the most adequate precautions.
Knee Sleeves and knee straps offer degrees of protection for existing or recurrent injuries when squatting and they can also provide a mechanism of support to help prevent future injuries.
There is some confusion and misconceptions that both of these accessories are the same. This is not true. In this piece we will outline the key areas of difference between the two pieces of equipment and where they can be most helpful when squatting.
Top 3 Knee Wraps
Mava Sports Knee Wrap
CAP Barbell Elastic Knee Wraps
Pro Fitness Knee Wraps
Top 3 Knee Sleeves
Knee Sleeves Versus Knee Wraps: Is One Better Than The Other?
Knee wraps are made out of an elastic material which helps store mechanical energy.
Knee wraps will increase the amount you can squat. It's not clear in this study whether the knees were straight wrapped or cross wrapped, however they found knee wraps increased output by 21%. On a 300lb squat you're adding 60lbs, that's a significant amount. However, it should be noted that this won't lead to quicker gains. Your body is still only responsible for 300 of 360lbs. The stored mechanical energy in the knee wraps is responsible for the additional 60lbs.
Knee sleeves may store some energy, but not nearly to the same degree that knee wraps do. Knee sleeves also are not knee braces, they offer very little in terms of stability and protection. They can help stabilize the patella and a knee sleeve compresses the area which leads to better blood flow. Increased blood flow helps with recovery.
Neither a knee wrap or a knee sleeve will correct your form. This important, if your squat form is poor to begin with you're not protecting your knees by wearing a sleeve or a wrap.
Both knee wraps and knee sleeves have their place - if you are looking to increase the amount you squat knee wraps will be the better option, otherwise use knee sleeves.
What Are Knee Wraps?
Knee wraps are elasticated wraps which are commonly worn during squatting and in among professional powerlifters. They differ from other types of wraps in that their purpose is not specifically related to just injury. Knee wraps also allow for more weight to be lifted during the squat.
They are usually wrapped around the knees in a spiral or diagonal pattern. The pattern is much the same as hand or wrist wraps worn by boxers.
Reasons Why You Should Wear Knee Wraps
Knee wraps are a highly valued accessory among the weightlifting community. This is due largely to the fact they can increase the amount of the squat. The tight wrapping around the knees allows for a lot of energy to be stored by the strap on the downward phase of the squat. This energy is the released on the upward phase. This allows for a more powerful squat. This is evident in a variety of studies measuring the performance benefits of wearing a knee wrap.
Research also shows that wearing a knee strap can help to reduce tension in the knee joint and surrounding areas. This is most beneficial to the quadriceps tendon which is often strained during heavy squats. This helps to greatly reduce the occurrence of common knee injuries during squatting.
CAP Barbell Elastic Knee Wraps
These heavy duty and highly durable wraps are well suited to the heavy lifters. They are quite thick and heavy. This means they are adept to provide excellent lift support as well as joint protection.
The CAP wraps come in a pair and can wrap tightly, ideal for squats and leg presses. They absorb a high degree of pressure from the lift which in turns helps to remove a lot of the strain from the knee joint of the athlete.
Mava Sports Knee Wraps
The hook and lock Velcro style of these sturdy knee wraps allow you to easily control the compression around the knee. This is excellent in the case of pain, injury or increased support.
Measuring 72” in total, the elasticated fabric ensures that the wrap stays stable at all times. This helps to increase confidence and boost your lifting power without having to worry about potential injury or joint stress.
This wrap provides comfortable and flexible support with a strong rebound to make sure that you can maximize your lifts. As well as squatting, they are suited to a number of all-weather exercises.
ProFitness Weightlifting Knee Wraps
Coming in a variety of different colors, these ProFitness wraps are most suited to weightlifting and cross training due to their enhanced flexibility which provides a strong rebound and all around more powerful lifting capability.
The Velcro fixings on these straps make them easy to attach and change in terms of pressure applied. This also makes them customizable to fit a variety of body types with ease.
The breathable fabric in these versatile wraps allows for a comfortable fit throughout the day, not alone during training periods. The fact that it is also moisture absorbent means you do not have to worry about how to deal with an overly sweaty workout.
These wraps are great for a wide cross-section of users, being so adaptable means that any squatter can realize extensive lifting benefits from these wraps.
What Are Knee Sleeves?
Knee sleeves are more compressive pockets which house and protect the knee during strenuous activities. They are abundantly common among active sports people, especially in sports which can leave the athlete vulnerable to knee injury. Knee sleeves for running and basketball are extremely common.
Due to their supportive nature and relief from joint pain, knee compression sleeves are a great option for weightlifters to feel protecting during squatting.
Reasons Why You Should Wear Knee Sleeves
There are several reasons why you may opt to wear a knee sleeve during squatting. Although they will not function to protect an already injured or unstable knee, they will help to protect the joint which may otherwise be vulnerable to injury.
Secondly, the compression provided by the knee sleeve helps to promote healthy blood circulation in the area. This can be excellent at assisting with fast joint recovery. Studies have in fact shown that muscle recovery can be improved by wearing a compression sleeve. This is great news for those who want to work out as much as possible within a strict timeframe.
Lastly, the compression provided by a knee sleeve helps to provide an increased stability to the joint. This improved sense of security can allow the athlete to lift more with the peace of mind that the joint will remain stable.
Ultraflex Knee Compression Sleeve
The Ultraflex sleeve is durable and very flexible. For those who squat or perform other forms of fast moving exercise, it is highly suitable.
It is constructed from a breathable, neoprene material and features double gripping strips to ensure that everything remains safely in its place. This material also means that the sleeve is relatively thin and therefore easily worn throughout exercise or under clothes without causing discomfort.
The maneuverability provided by the lightweight fabric is also an excellent advantage of this knee sleeve, especially for squatting.
Roludom Copper Knee Sleeve
This copper infused fabric sleeve provides many of the same benefits of a regular neoprene sleeve in that it is highly flexible and provides security to the patella and support to the quadriceps tendon. The added benefit of choosing this copper knee sleeve is that copper has long been believed to help improve blood circulation.
The Roludom sleeve does just that, in helping to improve circulation around the knee joints, it can have the knock on benefit of reducing join pain and improving lifting performance among squatters. The lightweight and durable fabric also ensure that this extended sleeve can be worn through the whole day without any discomfort.
Whilst it should not be used as a support mechanism, this sleeve assists in providing some welcome relief to those heavy lifter who may be suffering from poor circulation and the associated joint pains.
Copper United Knee Sleeve
With a copper infused nylon fabric which claims to have the highest copper content of any brace on the market at 88%, the Copper United sleeve is again excellent at promoting healthy circulation.
What makes this sleeve stand apart from other copper sleeves is the existence of a nylon ball within the sleeve itself. This helps to keep it steadily in place regardless the range of motion in the joint. This point alone makes it highly suitable for weightlifting and squats especially.
As well as helping to improve blood circulation, it also provides steady, long lasting support to the knee joint, great for those individuals making a return from injury who may be looking to both regain their confidence in lifting big while also making sure that everything stays in its correct place.
ActiveGear Sports Compression Sleeve
This is an economically designed sleeve from Active Gear. Although it is small in size, this 5mm neoprene fabric sleeve helps in greatly reducing joint swelling and improving the quality of exercise and lifts in the case of squatting.
It comes in 5 unique sizes, therefore you can achieve the perfect fit which will be most beneficial to you. The lightweight nature of the sleeves design also means that it can be worn in comfort throughout the day, not just during periods of lifting. Finally, the sleeve is latex free.
An all-round great choice for a comfortable and compact sleeve from Active Gear. This produces all the benefits of a neoprene compression sleeve with minimal fuss.
Wrapping it All Up
It is abundantly clear from our review of the various products available in both the knee sleeve and knee brace categories that they can both be of vital assistance to weightlifters and a variety of other athletes.
Their combination of support and protection is vital to many powerlifters and regular athletes alike. This leads them to be an accessory of function as well as comfort.
With the multitude of options available. It has never been easier to try out one of these great accessories and see how they can benefit your own workout routine.
Hero Image Credit: Mava Sports