When you go to CrossFit and weightlifting gyms, one of the things that you will notice is that many of the athletes wear knee wraps or sleeves during their workouts.
But, do you know why either are considered to be one of the most common accessories in weight training? It is okay if you don’t because most people are actually clueless why athletes wear them, as well as how and when they are worn.
Knee Wraps vs Knee Sleeves
First things first, knee wraps are different from knee sleeves.
They may both be used for the same body part, but they do not necessarily have the same functions.
To better understand what these accessories are for, let us first define both and identify their own advantages and disadvantages.
What are Knee Wraps
Knee wraps are commonly worn by competitive athletes such as powerlifters and bodybuilders.
As the name implies, they are designed to be wrapped around the knees as tight as possible in a diagonal or spiral method and are usually intended to be worn when doing squats.
The wraps are often six feet in length and roughly around 3 inches in width.
The materials used in making knee wraps are similar to those that are used in making wrist wraps.
Knee wraps are usually elastic and easily adjustable so that it may seem easier to put wraps on than knee sleeves – but they take longer?
These materials are usually thick polyester canvas which is interwoven with small rubber filaments.
Advantages of Wearing Knee Wraps
Powerlifters highly value the use of knee wraps because they allow more weight to be lifted in the squat.
And any weightlifter would value anything that would help them lift more weights.
Here’s one thing knee wraps do — during the downward phase of the squat, it will tighten and allow an immense amount of elastic energy to be stored.
The stored energy will then be released during the upward phase of the squat, allowing the lifter to possibly rise with more weight than usual.
Knee wraps also help to reduce stress on the quadricep tendon, which attaches to the patella and the quadricep.
The tendon pulls on the patella during the downward squat, resulting in reduced tension on the tendon as well as a reduced risk in tearing your quad.
Experienced powerlifters also know that knee wraps are essential to avoid serious injury.
According to research, using wraps affects the horizontal movement of the lifter and changes the target muscles.
So, if you are a weightlifter and you want to increase the amount of weight you lift and stay safe, make sure to invest in a great pair of knee wraps.
What Are Knee Sleeves?
Knee sleeves, on the other hand, are quite popular among athletes who regularly squat and do a lot of heavy lifting.
Knee sleeves are compression garments which surround the entire knee joint and are easily worn by sliding up and over the knees.
For powerlifting they are often made from soft neoprene material and are available in different thicknesses: usually 5 mm or 7mm for optimum fit and comfort.
The snug design of knee sleeves also allows knees to stay warm all throughout the training session and even after.
Advantages of Wearing Knee Sleeves
One of the common misconceptions about knee sleeves is mistaking them for knee braces, which are usually worn to protect a previous knee injury from further damage and ailment.
It is important to distinguish that the primary purpose of knee sleeves is for protection from a future knee injury or any risk of damage. They are not designed or intended to fix an already damaged knee.
Like Knee Wraps, sleeves are also worn for the compression and burst of energy involved in possibly lifting more weight in squats and deadlifts.
What Do Knee Sleeves Do?
What knee sleeves can provide are warmth and compression, which are very valuable and helpful elements in increasing blood flow and reducing swelling and pain during and after working out.
As a result, knee sleeves can help you recover quicker and allow you to perform exercises better.
Additionally, knee sleeves can help the mechanics of any given movement by limiting the movement of the patella to increase levels of performance.
They can also provide lateral stability and increase the sense of the relative position of the knee joints.
As you can see, knee sleeves are for real and not just another piece of workout equipment to buy.
Now that you know the difference between knee wraps and knee sleeves, the question is, which of them should you use?
Your choice depends on your particular fitness goals as well as the overall health of your knees and joints.
Knee wraps are often preferred by powerlifters because their fitness goal is to be able to move as much weight as possible, especially during a competition. However, as mentioned earlier, they have many more restrictions compared to knee sleeves.
On the other hand, knee sleeves are better preferred by athletes who are into CrossFit because they offer more versatility compared to wraps.
Even though Knee sleeves help with faster recovery after heavy lifting sessions, many powerlifters are using them in hopes of lifting heavier.
Just keep in mind that if ever you will be using sleeves, avoid relying on them too much; instead, continue working on your technique and mobility.