Are you doing heavy squats and wondering if your knee sleeves are doing any good? I can assure you that squatting and knee sleeves should go hand in hand. That is if you’re interested in protecting your knees from damage, and sometimes helping you lift more straight out of the hole.
Whether you’re asking about knee sleeves and squats in the gym, online, or in your favorite athletic store, you can find passionate opinions on both sides of the issue.
So with that in mind, I’m going to give you some pros and cons of using sleeves for squatting with weights.
Should I Wear Knee Sleeves for Squats?
Depending on your knees to force up uncommon amounts of weight puts uncommon stress and pressure on your knees. Over time you haven’t much choice but to damage your knees, so why not do all you can to protect them?
You don’t really need to wear them for all your weight lifting activities, only when your knees are a primary part of the lift. They will provide extra support for squats, the snatch, deadlifts, and clean and jerks. Your knees are vulnerable in every lift with dramatic increases in risk for injury.
Knee sleeves are primarily designed for safety and protection from injury. There are no real disadvantages of wearing them for squatting or any other activity that involves your knees, that I know of. However, they bring many benefits to the user.
They add compression and support that stabilizes your knee joint and surrounding muscles and tendons. This in itself aids in keeping your knee joint and knee cap in place during the extreme stress of squats. I like to think of my sleeves as a standard part of my gym bag and workout equipment.
After all, they’re your knees and your long term weight lifting and health goals. So you need good information to make an informed decision.
Pros and Cons of Using Knee Sleeves For Squats
There are plenty of Pros and maybe even a few cons?
Like I said earlier, they are open to every kind of idea and opposing opinion when it comes to whether or not they are actually good. Personally, I wouldn’t be without them, and here’s why:
1. Protection from Injury
Squats add more weight to knees. When you’re doing squats you are adding more weight to your knees than they were designed to carry. That’s pretty simple right there, and I think my knees deserve all the protection and forethought I can give them.
Warmth. Most knee injuries when it comes to squats are a result of either cold knees or bad form. To tell you the truth, if you have bad form already, sleeves aren’t likely to correct your form. But in my opinion, 7mm thick neoprene sleeves will go a long way towards learning good form for squats and get them warm and keep them warm during your workout, or competition.
Reduce pain. Increased blood flow from the compression and warmth provided by correctly fitted knee sleeves is going to help you reduce pain, soreness, and inflammation in your knees that comes with squatting.
Stability increases confidence. Feeling sturdier from the added protection of keeping your knees in alignment as you drive up from a squat is important, along with the added confidence to give more than you thought you had to give.
I would never want to start any exercise whatsoever, including weight lifting, without giving my muscles, joints, and tendons a chance to warm up. Actually, I have: and it causes real problems. Besides injuring my knees and lower back I was unable to do much of anything with any proficiency. So you never want to go straight into squats! Instead move around a little, maybe with cardio, for a few minutes, and give your knee sleeves a chance to warm up the fluid and cartilage in your joints.
2. Potentially Lift More Weight
In reality, knee sleeves are usually used as a preventive measure when it comes to squatting. They do provide support for your knees, keep them warm, and can give you a feeling of confidence from feeling the compression around your knees during the squatting movement.
But there’s always that nagging question about whether or not they add weight to your own lifting capability? My only guarantee on this question is that only you can ever know for sure. Actually, I think that if there were any real inherent value to lifting more weight with knee sleeves, they wouldn’t be allowed in Raw Powerlifting events?
Even though they aren’t the same as knee wraps when it comes to increasing your overall results from squats, there are lifters who swear they are getting from 5-25 pound advantage? The way they’re doing this is by buying neoprene sleeves 2-3 sizes too small, so they in effect act like tightly wrapped wraps. With the added advantage of feeling the extra support.
Read this post to learn about taking advantage of the elastic energy people use to actually lift more weight when squatting with 7mm knee sleeves, and decide for yourself “Are Knee Sleeves Cheating“?
1. No Proven Increase In Performance
So, when polling for answers on additional weight advantage, you are going to see some lifters swear they get 1-2% gain in weight lifted. But the other half swear there is nothing but the warmth. And by the way there is this other group that swears they don’t get anything positive from knee sleeves.
2. Neoprene Knee Sleeves Can Smell Really Bad
This is tricky right here? If you don’t already have a wife, be careful about letting her get close to your gym bag with your sleeves in them. Even if you do, you better learn about cleaning your knee sleeves.
3. Knee Sleeves Are Not A Replacement For Warm Ups
Ok, they definitely provide me with that warm and cozy feeling. But that’s not enough! You must get into a real stretching routine for your hamstrings, quads, and hips before you start any weight lifting.
4. Knee Sleeves Are No Substitute For Form
Good form is key to good squatting! A lot of pain experienced with squats comes directly from poor positioning, posture, and form. It’s you that needs to control your form, not depending on knee sleeves to do it for you.
In fact, many proponents of knee sleeves for squatting say you should be conservative in using them during training, and not to use them at all until you have a year of experience in heavy squats. Those people believe you should have proper form, sleeves or not.
Knee Pain and Body Weight
How about some insight into knees and obesity. This is something I like to rant about, and knees, obesity, and powerlifting really have a lot in common.
Both obesity and powerlifting are putting extra weights on important joints.
I live in the 3rd leading state for obesity and it’s not hard to see the effects of excessive weight on knees? In Mississippi, it’s hard to go anywhere without seeing plenty of people who weigh over 400 pounds. Visit any Physical Therapy business in the state, and it will be full of people who just had a knee replacement. And guess what?
Almost everyone you see who has a knee replacement is obese. And hardly anyone of them has ever lifted anything heavier than a half-gallon of their favorite ice cream!
As a weight lifter, it’s important that you think of the future of your knees and take care of them at all cost.
Knees Were Designed Just For Your Body
The knee joints that came with you are generally designed to support the weight of your body — in particular. Not excessive pounds from either absurd eating habits, or lifting weights at the gym.
Of course, we know that keeping your legs and body strong allows you to do things like squatting and standing with absurd amounts of weight on your shoulders.
What you want to do is to take every precaution possible to protect your knees when you’re doing anything that puts extra stress and fatigue on them, and that’s where wearing premium knee sleeves for squatting comes into play.