Often in the gym, I’ll see people wearing brightly colored wraps around their knees, or other parts of their legs. I wondered why they would wear these, so I did some research.
Put simply, knee wraps help you to lift more weight. They provide elasticity, so it’s easier to lift your weights. The other main benefits include:
- Increased strength (kind of)
- Stability during lifts
- Warming up muscles (compression)
For a piece of equipment that helps you be even stronger, I’d say they’re worth it.
My favorite ones are from Mava, and you can get them on Amazon. They’re high quality, and one of the most popular pairs out there.
Since knee wraps are made of elastic, they stretch while you go down in a squat. When you come back up, they pull back together, meaning they assist you in your lift. To get the best results, you have to wear wraps as tight as possible.
Because you’re wearing them so tight, it compresses your muscles. This compression warms your muscles and helps prevent injury.
This being said, injury prevention should not be the goal when you’re wearing knee wraps. For that, you should wear knee sleeves, and I’ll go over the differences later.
Advantages of Knee Wraps
As I said before, in the gym, it’s common to meet athletes wearing knee wraps. There’s no doubt that they have quickly become indispensable, whether to improve your performance or simply to avoid injuries. Here’s why it is important to use knee wraps:
Knee wraps compress after they’re stretched, which means they’re elastic. Basically, when you squat down, the fabric of the wraps themselves will want to pull you back up, making the lift slightly easier.
This being said, while it’ll be easier for you to lift heavier weight, you won’t actually be any stronger. If you take the wraps off again, you won’t be able to lift as much as when you had them on. Because of this, wraps are great if you’re trying to hit a certain weight on your lifts, but besides that, you won’t get any strength benefit out of them.
Support and Warmth:
When they first became common, knee wraps were mainly used during the warm-up phase.
Their material makes it possible to retain the heat at the knee and its articulation, and your muscles are heated faster. If you didn’t know, warmer muscles have much better performance.
But lifters quickly realized that they had other advantages, and in particular, offering very good support. As knee wraps compress the knees, while being flexible, they accompany the movement and help to make it less tiring.
This makes knee wraps great for improving performance and keeping you safe from injuries.
Another great piece of gear is a weightlifting belt. They help you stay safe an
Stability During Lifts:
Knee wraps are also very popular with weightlifting athletes or any other sport requiring powerlifting movements where loads are very heavy. When the knee is at the center of the movement, knee wraps are used to bring stability, as is the same with your lifting shoes.
The knee and its joint are held in place with neoprene or thick nylon (usually around 7 mm), and the movement is then more stable. Compression also plays a key role in this increased stability and it helps you to complete the lift with better form and with more strength.
More Support in Your Lifts
While the “main” benefit of knee wraps is a strength boost, they also take some pressure off of your muscles and tendons, as well as supporting your body during lifts.
If you know how to lift with proper form, they can actually make it easier for you to keep this good form throughout your lift. This is another benefit, and it’ll make your lifts more efficient and safer for your body.
Disadvantages of Knee Wraps
Can’t Wear Knee Sleeves:
I go over this more in-depth below, but knee sleeves are made to protect you from injury, and they can be pretty good too. This being said, as the name implies, sleeves go over your knees as well.
This means that if you’re going to wear wraps, you can’t wear sleeves, and miss out on some of the benefits of injury reduction. In the end, most people don’t use either, so it’s really up to you whether or not you wear knee wraps.
Raised Blood Pressure:
Knee wraps and any type of gear you put on your body has the potential to raise your blood pressure. This isn’t a problem if you’re healthy but if you have cardiovascular or respiratory issues, they can be harmful to your health.
If you have any type of heart condition, simply don’t wear knee wraps. If you’re concerned in any way about wearing wraps, talk to your doctor to make sure you’re healthy enough. It’s not worth risking your health just to get a few extra pounds on your squat or deadlift.
How to Choose Knee Wraps
As the point of knee wraps is mainly the compression it exerts at the knee joint, we must obviously make sure that when choosing wraps, that compression is correct.
First of all, you need to select the right size; knee wraps chosen too large will not tighten enough, while knee wraps that are too small will tend to cut off the flow of blood.
But this compression is also a question of design. For example, the best-designed knee wraps have an anatomical cut, which is ergonomic and adapts to both the thigh and the calf width.
If good compression also ensures correct muscle warmth to avoid injury, it must go with good performance. Knee wraps shouldn’t slide throughout the training session, but they should not cause discomfort by using too tight elastics in the thigh and calf.
In the end, it’s down to what fits you and your body best. Just make sure that your knee wraps aren’t too loose, but aren’t too tight either.
Who Needs Knee Wraps?
As I’ve mentioned before, there are a number of different athletes that would benefit from wearing knee wraps.
An athlete who practices powerlifting or weightlifting, particularly on the movement of squat for powerlifting, and the snatch for weightlifting, puts their knees under extreme stress.
The muscles used in these lifts are so powerful in these athletes that no stabilizing muscle, even well trained, can guarantee micro-movements of the joint during movement.
Both powerlifters and weightlifters will benefit from the increased strength as well as the stabilization that comes from wearing knee wraps.
Some team sports, especially ones with compound movements that resemble squats, can benefit from knee wraps.
The benefits are exactly the same as the ones for lifters, they’re just applied in a different setting.
Knee Wraps vs Sleeves vs Braces
Knee wraps, sleeves, and braces can all benefit you in different ways, but they do have very different purposes. It’s important for you to understand these differences, and know what gear you’re wearing.
Knee wraps are meant to supplement your lifts and help you to lift more weight. This happens by using elastics in the wraps to make the load of the weight lighter on your muscles.
While this sounds great, and they do help you lift more weight, they won’t actually make you any stronger.
Compared to knee wraps, sleeves are more about preventing injury. Their compression warms up your muscles and gets them ready for big lifts.
Along with this, they keep your legs stable during lifts like squats. With more stability comes less injury.
If you do any type of sport where you bend your knees, whether it’s football or powerlifting, you can benefit from knee wraps. Braces, on the other hand, should only be worn after an injury.
Wraps and sleeves can help with preventing injury, while braces are meant for recovering from injuries. If you wear a brace when you don’t have an injury, it will only hinder and potentially even harm your performance.
Seriously, don’t wear a brace unless you have an injury and your doctor advises that you wear one.
Are Knee Wraps Bad for Your Knees? No, knee wraps are not bad for your knees. In fact, they can actually reduce injury and make your lifts safer, on top of boosting your strength ability while you’re wearing them.
Do Knee Wraps Increase Your Squat? Yes, knee wraps can improve your squat if you use them correctly. They can actually improve your squat from 5-10% if you wear them correctly, which can be a pretty big boost.
Are Knee Wraps or Knee Sleeves Better? Neither is better, but they’re both different from each other. Knee wraps are meant to improve your strength, while knee sleeves are meant to protect you from injuries.