THE ADVANTAGES OF KNEE SLEEVES: WHAT THEY ARE AND WHEN TO WEAR THEM
One of the most common sports injuries are knee injuries. Blown out ACLs, MCLs, and ripped cartilage are common in athletes of all sports sectors. Using prophylactic knee braces can in fact reduce the frequency and the harshness of injuries that develop from the knee joint.
KNEE SLEEVES VS KNEE BRACES & THEIR USE
First, we need to define that knee sleeves are not the same as knee braces. A knee sleeve offers support, but instead of only providing support like a knee brace, a knee sleeve is designed to protect your knees from damage and injuries. For those who spend a good deal of time running, jumping or weightlifting a knee sleeve is essential.
In addition to preventing serious injuries, knee sleeves also provide a valuable compression element that improves blood flow to the area while simultaneously reducing pain both during and after performance. Compression is vital for high intensity workouts because it increases blood flow which promotes a speedy and thorough recovery. In the simplest terms, a knee sleeve prevents pain and swelling during and after exercise.
In most cases, these high-intensity aids are constructed from neoprene material and can easily slide over the knee. The sleeve also provides increased proprioception (or rather the ability to feel the location of your joint via your nervous system), added warmth, and reduces patella movement. Not only does the sleeve aid in the mechanical support of your joints, it also increases your proprioception making it more difficult to injure yourself.
It’s important to recognize the difference between knee braces and knee sleeves as a consumer. The primary difference is the purpose of each product. Protective padding on a knee brace is designed to support the anterior knee and patella. The knee sleeve doesn’t provide ligament support in the same manner. Those who have an unstable knee and opt for a knee sleeve for support, will find it doesn’t provide the necessary stabilizing power.
A doctor or orthopedic surgeon can provide you with more information about what you need to secure your knee. In some cases, a knee sleeve may irritate an unstable knee because of the restriction to your lymphatic and venous return below your knee.
IS A KNEE SLEEVE RIGHT FOR YOU?
When you lift a heavy object and increase the weight of the object over time, you are literally grinding the kneecap onto itself. Those who experience progressive tendonitis often develop the condition because of this process. One study showed that nearly one in twenty Americans over the age of fifty have artificial knees. Athletes and weightlifters experience this issue with much greater frequency.
It’s important to note that knee sleeves aren’t needed for all weightlifting activities. If you are not using your knees, then you can skip wearing them. However, if your workout includes squats, clean and jerk, or the snatch you will need a knee sleeve to protect your knee. In any instance where the knee is vulnerable for injury you can be leaving yourself open to long-term damage.
For individuals who are new to weightlifting, knee sleeves aren’t super necessary—in fact, they can become a waste of money. At the beginning of your weightlifting journey, your knees won’t have enough pressure on them to warrant using a sleeve. However, your age, ability, and technique will exert more or less pressure on your knees forcing you to use a sleeve.
Improper technique and form can lead to serious consequences for your body, which means you might benefit from a knee sleeve and a little extra support. Failure to do so could result in problems within as little as 12 months.
Anyone who is at the intermediate or advanced lifting range should use knee sleeves for support, as they hold your entire knee in place and prevent more serious injury. With the right technique and proper equipment, you can increase your strength and reduce injuries over the long haul.