What are they?
Commonly worn by competitive powerlifters and bodybuilders, knee wraps are made of the same elastic material that is typically found in wrist wraps. They are designed to be wrapped around the knee in a spiral or diagonal method for use in squats.
The reason knee wraps are so highly valued by powerlifters is that they allow more weight to be lifted in the squat. How? During the eccentric (downwards) phase of the squat, the tightness of the wraps allows for a high amount of elastic energy to be stored, which can subsequently be released during the concentric (upwards) phase-resulting in heavier and faster squats. Furthermore, knee wraps are believed to reduce stress and pulling forces on the quadriceps tendon, which is attached to the quadriceps and the patella (the kneecap). When you squat, the tendon pulls on the patella. Reducing the stress on the tendon helps to avoid detaching your tendon from the patella, or tearing your quads altogether, which are both quite nasty injuries. Considering the monster weights that competitive powerlifters move around in the squat, it seems sensible why powerlifters choose to squat with leg wraps. Knee wraps make it possible for you to teach through some accidental injuries. I experienced an interval where any squat harm my legs, and wraps allowed me to teach pain-free. Actually, hook them up to from 145 on up. Obviously they didn’t heal the root problem, however, they did let me keep training as I had fashioned a laser concentrate on hitting 615+ covered comp squat.
- Training exclusively in wraps will hinder hip flexor development. There is no free lunch, so even if you use them to successfully train through an injury, you are probably setting yourself up for a different set of problems when it’s all said and done.
- A hypothesis is that for certain body geometries, wraps will improve your squat technique. More vertical torso, perfect ankle/knee/hip alignment, etc. Part of this is storing energy in the wraps, part of it is probably proprioceptive feedback from the wraps.
- Sleeves aren’t going to “protect” the knee in the same sense a belt protects the core; they are for keeping the joint warm. We’ll say that a warm joint provides a favorable environment for the tendons and whatnot so they might protect against a rushed warm-up or cold room or something.
- Wraps also won’t protect the knee, unless you are utterly lacking in depth control, in which case they will prevent you from going too deep and pushing something into a bad position. That being said, you will probably hurt yourself if you force extreme depth while wearing wraps.
- Found that wrapped wide box squats have carryover to off-the-floor strength in sumo deadlift. Might get similar carryover from high box squats without the wraps but then you’d be labeled a high squatter and who wants that.
If you’re not going to compete in the wrapped squat, it might not be worth the effort to learn them. But if you are injured for some other reason, wraps could allow you to continue training (if you already know how to use them).
Anything that is substantial enough to mechanically support the knee joint is fundamentally the same. The only difference is the degree of support.