Is your “dodgy knee” is scuppering your training? The knees are a vulnerable ‘weak spot’ - and even if they aren’t causing you niggles, they could be holding you back if you don’t support them properly
Time to strap up with knee sleeves, partner.
When you suffer a knee blowout, you’re no longer in charge in the gym. Whether you’ve got a torn cartilage, a blown MCL, PCL or ACL, you’re left facing up to being out of action for some time. Beast mode will have to be shelved. Sucks to be you.
Man, even hiking becomes hard.
The good news is that knee injuries can totally be prevented if you do the right things - andwear the right things.
This is where knee sleeves come in. But what are knee sleeves exactly, what do they do … and why should you use them?
In this article, we take a look at everything you need to know about this particularly beastly piece of essential training gear.
First things first, knee sleeves are different to knee braces. When we workout with a knee brace, we’re usually doing so in order to prevent a previous injury from flaring up again.
Then there are knee wraps that are typically worn by monster powerlifters.
Knee sleeves, on the other hand, protect your knees from future damage or risk of injury, and they’re highly valued by the CrossFit and lifting communities.
All kinds of athletes wear them. If you’re performing exercises that require extra support, such as deadlifts, squats, and jumps, you should consider using knee sleeves. This is because these types of exercises put your knee under a tremendous amount of pressure - especially if you’re working out on a daily basis.
To get a bit more in-depth, knee sleeves provide you with a crucial compression element. This minimises pain and boosts blood flow, both duringand after your workout.
Why is compression so crucial? Simply because it encourages more blood to flow through your knees blood vessels. The more compression there is, the greater the blood flow. In turn, this aids with your recovery.
Knee sleeves, then, equal less pain and swelling and a better performance. Winner.
High-quality knee sleeves, like the Beast Sleeves and the Beast Sleeves Pro, provide compression (as mentioned above), but they also provide support and warmth. The highest quality knee sleeves aid recovery and rejuvenation, and they provide support while offering lots of movement.
They also minimise pain, restrict patella movement, and they boost proprioception. A good knee sleeve should provide protection for all-rounder training, such as everything from running to lifting.
Oh, and the best knee sleeves should also make you look pretty damn good. Bonus win.
Knee sleeves are ace for all-rounder training, but they actually don’t need to be worn all the time.
This is especially true of weightlifting exercises. If you’re not involving your knees as your main lifting source, you don’t need to wear sleeves.
Instead, knee sleeves provide extra support for the likes of deadlifts, the clean and jerk, the snatch and squats.
Knee sleeves are also valuable for running and hiking, and any other form of exercise where your knees are vulnerable or left weak, or where there is more risk of harm.
Sometimes you’ll need to wear knee braces instead of sleeves. The knee brace protects your patella and anterior knee. The knee sleeve, conversely, doesn’t provide as much ligamentous support.
As such, if your knee is unstable, you’ll need to stabilise it with a brace. A sleeve simply won’t be enough. Moreover, knee sleeves might aggravate an unstable knee.
If you do have an unstable knee, it’s also a good idea to take yourself off to a physiotherapist for further investigation.
Also, if you’re new to weightlifting and are starting off small, there’s a chance that you don’t need to wear knee sleeves just yet. However, this comes down to a few things, including how much pressure you're bearing down on your knees, to your athletic background and age.
Intermediate and advanced lifters who are performing regular workouts that involve their knees should look into wearing sleeves. The support they provide prevents injury and pain, and helps you to build up your strength and stay both injury and pain-free over the long term.
The only wrangle with the knee sleeve is that it can be a pain to put on and keep on at times, especially at the start of use. Here are two ways to put on your sleeves:
This is the most popular way to wear knee sleeves. All you need to do is roll the top of your sleeve down to roughly a half of its length, before pulling it up until the bottom is perfectly positioned on your shin.
Once it’s in position, twist your sleeve so that it sits straight on your leg, before rolling up the top. The sleeve might still be a bit off, but it’s really simply to adjust from this point.
If you’ve decided to do a warmup before putting your sleeves on, you’ll be a tad sweaty. This makes putting your sleeves on a bit trickier.
But it’s okay - I’ve got you.
Take a ripped plastic bag and wrap it around your shin.
Then, pull your knee sleeve over the plastic bag via a roll down and pull technique. You’ll find that doing this makes both the bag and the sleeve easier to grab together.
Pull the sleeve up and put it in position, before pulling out the bag. Then, repeat with your other knee.
So. Ready to get your swag on with knee sleeves?
Accessories are awesome for helping us build up our strength while preventing injuries. Knee sleeves are growing in popularity among the CrossFitters and lifters community, where their versatility and their ability to help us recover from lifting sessions is invaluable.
If you do decide to go with sleeves, don’t forget to continue focusing on your technique, too. Knee sleeves provide extra support and protection but you don’t want to rely on them too much.