Knee Wraps vs. Knee Sleeves: What’s the Difference
Knee Sleeves Vs.
Knee Wraps: What’s the Difference?
The first thing to understand is that there are two types of knee wraps: compression and non-compression. Compression knee wraps are designed to reduce blood flow to your knees during exercise, while non-compression ones don’t have any effect on them at all. The main difference between these two types of knee wrap is their thickness. Non-compression type is thicker than compression one, which makes it easier to put on and take off.
Compression knee wraps are made from different materials such as Lycra or Spandex. They come in various colors and patterns to match your personal style.
However, they’re not cheap; they cost around $20-$30 per pair depending on the brand you choose (if you buy them online).
There are many reasons why you might want to wear compression knee wraps instead of non-compression ones. Some of them include:
You’re recovering from injury or surgery and need extra protection against further damage. You may have had a bad experience with other kinds of knee wraps and would like something better.
You just want to look cool while wearing them.
Because they have a short lifespan and only work if you wrap them around your knee(s), they aren’t good for heavy squats or deadlifts. If you’re into these types of lifts, you should buy non-compression ones instead.
They are used mostly by powerlifters and strongmen who compete in the squat and deadlift events. They can help you lift more weight because they protect your knees as well as give you a bit more support during the lift.
However, this extra support is only for the downwards part of the movement. If you lift a heavy weight and hold it at the top for more than a few seconds, your knees could start to hurt.
The material they’re made of can be quite slippery. If you choose one made of spandex, you’ll have to wash it by hand because it can’t go in a washing machine.
There are some exceptions, like knee sleeves made by Rep Your Set.
They’re easy to find in specialty stores or on the internet. There are hundreds of different kinds and colors to choose from.
Most types can be put on and removed quite easily. In rare instances, you might find one that’s a little more difficult to slide over your calf muscles.
How do Knee Wraps Increase Your Strength?
The main benefit of wearing knee wraps is that they can improve your performance during a heavy squat or deadlift. They do this by giving you extra support whilst increasing the tightness in the joint. This has an added benefit of increasing the amount of force going through the muscles involved in the lift, as well as making them contract more frequently.
This means you not only move heavier weights, but also more frequently. This can be a good way of increasing your strength in the long run.
For the more experienced lifters, using knee wraps can be a useful way of increasing your one rep maximum (1RM) without having to lift a weight that’s too heavy and increases the risk of injury. However, this shouldn’t take the place of actually training smart and getting yourself in peak physical condition.
If you don’t train properly, you can still get injured whilst wearing knee wraps. For the best results, it’s best to use them for squats and heavy deadlifts only.
How Do You Put Knee Wraps On?
Wearing knee wraps correctly is important if you want to get the most out of them. It can take some time to learn how to wrap them around your legs, but once you have the hang of it, you shouldn’t need someone else to help you. This is how you do it:
1. Place the Knee Wrap Around Your Knee So That The Ends Are at the Back of Your Legs
The first step is to find the middle of the wrap. If you’re using a single long knee wrap, then it’s most likely going to be the middle of it.
If you’re using several shorter wraps that are joined together, then it’s best to join them in the center so they’re less likely to come undone.
Next, you’re going to place the middle of the wrap around your knee and then pull the two ends apart on each side.
2. Position the Knee Wrap to Your Liking Around Your Knee
The next step is to pull the two ends so that one end is on top of the other around your knee joint. Make sure they’re positioned so that they’re around the back of your leg.
The top of the wrap should be on the outside of your knee, and the bottom of the wrap should be on the inside.
3. Tuck the Extra Ends Inside Your Knee Wraps
At this point, you want to tuck the long ends of the wraps inside your knee wraps. The easiest way to do this is to pull on them as you move your knee around.
It’s a bit of a hand-crank motion that you’re doing here.
The wraps themselves should now be very tight around the front of your leg.
4. Tie Off the Knee Wraps
At this point, you should have knee wraps that fit tightly around your knee. The final step is to secure them in place by tying them off.
You can do this in a few different ways. The first way is to tie them in a bow on the front and back of your legs.
The other way is to make a knot at the front and back of your leg. Both methods work well and you can choose which one to use based on personal preference.
5. Put On Your Shoe and Repeat on Other Leg
After you’ve wrapped your first knee, you want to put on your shoe so that the wrap is in direct contact with the floor. You then repeat the process on your other leg.
Make sure that you practice standing up and sitting down so you get used to the added support of your knee wraps.
Knee Wraps vs Knee Sleeves: Which are Better for Squats?
There is a great deal of debate between powerlifters and weightlifters about the benefits of using knee sleeves over wraps. While many believe that sleeves offer enough support to get through a heavy training session or a competition, others believe that wraps still offer greater benefits.
Personally, I use knee sleeves for most of my training because I don’t want the added bulk that comes with using wraps.
However, I do still do a few sets of heavy squats and heavy deadlifts with wraps to strengthen my knees and make them more resilient to injury.
There is little scientific evidence to support the use one over the other, so you’re going to have to listen to your body and see what works best for you.
My best advice is to try both and see what you like. Most people will find that they like one or the other, but there are some hard-headed people who like both.
What is most important is that you strengthen your knees as much as possible to prevent injury and make your legs stronger!
Wrapping It Up
Knee wraps can offer a ton of benefits to powerlifters and weightlifters. If you suffer from weak knees, then using knee wraps can help improve your squat and deadlift.
Other than knee wraps, there is not much else you can do other than strengthen your legs.
If you want to wear knee wraps, I would recommend picking some up from the company Harbinger since they have great knee wraps for a reasonable price.
Also, make sure you watch the how-to video that I linked to above since it shows you the proper way to put on knee wraps.
Lastly, if knee wraps are just too much for your knees, then consider using knee sleeves instead. They offer similar benefits with less bulk and they’re much easier to put on.
My favorite brand is ProFitness because they have just the right amount of support without hindering your range of motion.
Thanks for reading!
Sources & references used in this article:
- Immediate effects of an elastic knee sleeve on frontal plane gait biomechanics in knee osteoarthritis (R Schween, D Gehring, A Gollhofer – PloS one, 2015 – journals.plos.org)
- HMB: THE LIFTER’S SUPPLEMENT? (D Wagman – usawa.com)
- Efficacy of knee braces and foot orthoses in conservative management of knee osteoarthritis: a systematic review (K Raja, N Dewan – American journal of physical medicine & …, 2011 – journals.lww.com)
- Orthotic or prosthetic sleeve formed of elasticized fabric sections having different elastic stiffness (P Einarsson, SÁ Ásgeirsson, HB Janusson – US Patent 6,592,539, 2003 – Google Patents)
- Does bracing influence brain activity during knee movement: an fMRI study (Y Thijs, G Vingerhoets, E Pattyn, L Rombaut… – Knee surgery, sports …, 2010 – Springer)
- Knee brace (LT Applegate – US Patent 4,201,203, 1980 – Google Patents)
- Brace treatment for osteoarthritis of the knee: a prospective randomized multi-centre trial (RW Brouwer, TM Van Raaij, JAN Verhaar… – Osteoarthritis and …, 2006 – Elsevier)