Strenuous workouts come with joint pain and longer recovery periods. If you are involved with, or considering workouts that include weightlifting, Cross training, or lots of jumping like basketball, protecting your knees with weight lifting knee sleeves may be for you.
These flexible tight fitting sleeves supply warmth and compression to the vulnerable knee joint. They are designed to help prevent injury. By supporting the knee, weight lifting knee sleeves allow heat to surround the knee, helping reduce pain, increase blood flow, and bring vital oxygen and other nutrients to the knee joint. They can also improve the recovery time from your workout. There is no substitute for proper technique, and proper alignment should be your priority, but knee sleeves can help you maintain that alignment.
Who Should Use Weight Lifting Knee Sleeves
If you’re just starting out with weightlifting, you don’t need knee sleeves unless you are experiencing some form of knee pain. Learning the correct techniques and body posture should be your goal. This will aid in keeping your knees from damage in the first place. The amount of weight you’re lifting also will not be enough in the beginning to require knee sleeves. Only after a year or so of lifting and increased weight amounts are knee sleeves recommended. Lifting is heavily reliant on knee movement, so as your weight levels increase, sleeves will help.
If you’re involved in an exercise routine that involves lots of bending or jumping, then knee sleeves are something you should consider. These exercises include cross training, basketball, squats, the snatch, clean and jerk, and volleyball. Since these routines involve lots of contraction of the knee joint, which brings more wear and tear on the joint, more protection is needed to keep it aligned. Weight lifting knee sleeves provide proper support of your patella and can also reduce swelling caused by these activities.
Benefits of Weight Lifting Knee Sleeves
The main benefit of knee sleeves is the protection of the knee. The support and restriction of patella movement greatly decreases the risk of injury. The decrease in swelling and pain along with faster recovery are also great advantages.
Knee sleeves also help reduce wear and tear on knees due to the repetitive movements in high-impact sports. They also help when transitioning to heavier weight lifting. For outdoor activities, they help warm joints faster in cold weather and keep them that way. They help support your knees on rest days with enhanced blood flow and can aid in warding off injuries that you may have had little warning sign of during a workout.
When to Not Use Knee Sleeves
Knee sleeves shouldn’t be used to replace proper warm-ups. By taking care of all your other muscles, your knees will last longer as well, even without a sleeve. Proper form and technique are key to any good exercise routine. You want to be in control of positioning your joints, not letting the sleeve do that. Once you have created the habit of good form, the sleeve can assist you in staying there.
Don’t use knee sleeves to replace recovery days. Recovery times vary for different people and for different activities. While knee sleeves can help keep the blood flowing better on your recovery days, your body still needs to recover. There’s more to recovery than just your knees. And any outside accessory will not repair your insides.
What Kind of Knee Sleeve Is Best?
If you’ve decided that knee sleeves will assist in helping protect your knees, the question becomes which ones to purchase. There are many different weightlifting knee sleeves on the market and lots of recommendations from top athletes. Here are the things you should consider when buying knee sleeves.
Comfort – First, they should be comfortable. You want to measure your knee carefully to get the correct size. The fit should be snug, but not too snug. They should compress and feel warm. They should support. Make sure to try the sleeve on before you buy it to make sure it fits and feels right.
Durability – No matter how often you will be using your knee sleeves, you want them to stand up to the test. The more you will be using them, the more durable you want them to be. Buying a cheap sleeve doesn’t do you much good if it falls apart in a couple of months.
Material – Most knee sleeves are made of neoprene. It hugs your leg tightly and allows the heat to stay in. But if you have allergies, you may want to consider cloth sleeves as an alternative. These provide more compression than warmth, but could be the right material for you.
Style – Some people make this a priority. Weight lifting knee sleeves come in different colors, though not usually from the same company. Most companies only offer one or two colors, black or grey. If color really matters to you, they are out there. You may just have to look a little harder.
Price – Knee sleeves run between $40 and $100 a pair. The price difference does help in determining how long they may last. Better made sleeves cost more. The lower end sleeve will serve you well, but the lifespan may not be as long. Determining how often you’ll wear them can help determine how much you want to spend on them.
One of the most popular brands of knee sleeves is Rehbands. They’re a great quality sleeve that provides endurance and protection. They can run around $95 a pair. They’re good for any type of activity – A great all around sleeve. KASP knee sleeves are top quality. They’re great for power lifting, Olympic lifting and squats. Long lasting and a consumer favorite, they run around $50. Live up sports brand offers multiple colors on the trim of the sleeve. They’re a great middle-of-the-road sleeve good for general purposes and run around $30 a pair. These are just some of the many brands available. Whatever brand you choose, you may want to get two pairs. Neoprene keeps in more than just heat. It keeps in odor as well. You will want to air and wash your sleeves regularly so having a second pair makes sure your workouts don’t get delayed.
If you’re considering weightlifting competition, you may want to buy sleeves that are a size down from what you normally wear. Some lifters claim that they can lift 15-20 pounds more because of the pop you get from this. For medal placing events, this can make a difference. But the smaller sleeves should only be used for competitions, not training. Regular wear of too small of a sleeve will make your legs fall asleep.
Myths About Weight Lifting Knee Sleeves
While wearing smaller knee sleeves for competition weightlifting can increase the amount of weight you lift, some people believe that knee sleeves increase their regular performance. Not really. Studies have shown that knee sleeves may increase the amount of weight you lift by only 1-2%. And this is providing you wear them for 24 hours a day after your workout. This means that if you’re currently lifting 300 pounds, you may increase by three to six pounds. A “Fran” time of 2:30 minutes will improve to between 2:27 and 2:29 minutes. The only way to truly improve is with regular increase of your workouts. The sleeve may help you feel more confident, allowing you to push yourself more therefore achieving better performance, but that comes from you. Not the knee sleeve.
Another myth about weight lifting knee sleeves is that because the fabric bunches up behind your knee when you’re at the bottom of a squat, the extra fabric will push your kneecap forward by millimeters with every set. This could end up causing future knee pain. There is no evidence to support this myth.
One myth that is true is that you can become dependent on knee sleeves. By thinking that they improve your performance or will allow you to escape all injury, knee sleeves can become a crutch. Keeping your knees healthy will decrease your need for knee sleeves. Once again, proper technique and posture should be your fitness goal. And only regular increases in your routines will help you improve your levels. Let knee sleeves enhance your performance, not control it.
High-impact sports are great exercise and lots of fun. And they can come with some unwanted aches and pains. Weight lifting knee sleeves can help reduce the impact these activities have on the body. When you protect your body, you enjoy your life more. If knee sleeves help you do that, use them.