Originally Published: 11/17/2019
Reformatted: 5/10/2021by malia warren
By now, you’ve probably read our article about whether or not you really need knee sleeves. (If not, take a look here)
You know some kind of knee support is a good thing, but there are a few different options we carry and thought we should drop some knowledge on each option.
Yay! But what the heck are those?
So glad you asked.
Let’s start with the most supportive, and let’s face it, uncomfortable, piece of gear for your knees on the market: Knee Wraps
1. What the eff is a Knee Wrap?
Knee Wraps are long piece of fabric about 2-3 inches wide and 72 to 96 inches long. Some are shorter, or longer but the length should be long enough to fully wrap around your knee at least once. It should fully cover the knee cap and the areas about 2 inches above and below the knee cap.
As you wrap the fabric around your knee, care should be taken to keep it tight and firmly in place as you continue to wrap around the area. Once you reach the end of the fabric, you tuck that into a fold.
You legit should not be able to walk normally in them. This is because your legs should be pretty darn near uncomfortable that you want to lift in them and get it over with.
Mostly exaggerating, but hope you get the idea.
Knee wraps are extremely beneficial for the heavy lifter that is looking for rock solid support in a max out lift. Or maybe you just like the pain?
In summary, the pros of knee wraps are: maximum knee support, “bouncy” snapback out of a squat. Possible PR’s can come out of it. The cons are: so tight they aren’t the most functional choice for CrossFit workouts, compression so tight it’s uncomfortable.
Furthermore, they’re made from a Polyester/Spandex mixture, so they are very easy to clean! They also can be used on other parts of the body during occlusion training.
If you’re not down for the tedious wrapping of your knees over and over, try out a pair of Poly (as in Polyester) Knee sleeves.
2. Polyester Knee Sleeves
Just like they sound: Knee Sleeves made of tightly woven polyester.
You might want to pull them down in between lifts, but while they’re on, they should be promoting blood flow to your knees.
Plus, we perfected the art in making them look cooler.
The Single Ply are great for functional fitness workouts and lifting, and for those who want lighter compression without sacrificing mobility. The polyester material holds up better to outside strain so you could use these for rope climbs, or even knee warmth while rollerblading (yes, I’ve done that). For more compression and a knee wrap without the knee wrap feel, we recommend the Double Ply. These are so great for lifting days when you want extra knee support on lifts like back or front squats.
3. Neoprene Knee Sleeves
Neoprene is a fun material that we’ve been working with in our knee sleeves from the beginning. We talk quite a bit about them in our other posts, so I won’t get too crazy but basically its a synthetic material that conducts heat.
You know how a wetsuit keeps you warmer in the cold ocean? Thats the neoprene material it’s made out of. Neoprene sleeves are literally a wetsuit for your knees. Except, you’re not in the ocean while lifting. Unless you’re a mermaid.
The neoprene allows you to used your own trapped body heat emitting from you and center it around your knees. Warm knees = happy joints which makes you less likely to injure yourself if positioning is proper.
The trapped heat also means trapped sweat – you’re not in the ocean when you’re lifting, it’s likely the environment you’re in when you lift is warmer which means the sweat has nowhere to go except inside the knee sleeve. Because they trap sweat, we recommend washing them every so often using our guidelines here.
Why even wear Knee Sleeves at all?
Wondering about the benefits of feeling like your legs are going to fall off?
It’s call proprioception, which is the ability to sense the orientation of your body during movement. Also known as Spidey Senses.
Ok, not really, really, but we will call them that: Leg Spidey Senses.
But for real, it’s defined as the process by which the body can vary muscle contraction in immediate response to incoming information regarding external forces. Like a sixth sense. That’s some Spiderman sh*t right there.
The same can be said for many types of lifting gear, but the point of the knee support, is to make you aware of your body movements and use proper form.
A knee wrap will for sure make you aware of the knee support happening while wearing them. They’ve been known to help lifters add on 10-20 lbs or more to max lifts.
It will probably appear like an Ace bandage or brace to you at first, but if you have cute prints like ours, you won’t feel left out.
So which do you need?
Quite honestly, you could use both. But you most likely don’t need both. How much and how often you do the requiring activity will determine need. If you’re a functional fitness athlete doing minimal lifting focus, you can do knee sleeves.
However, if the main component of your training is lifting, we recommend having both in your bag to switch out as necessary. I personally have all three types in my gym bag, so I’m ready for anything!
What kind of knee support do you use for your workout?
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Malia is the owner, and mamapreneur, of Lifting the Dream. When she’s not lifting heavy weights, she’s doing some fun shit outdoors with her family or attempting to make rollerblading cool again. She is a Cali girl born and raised, with salt water in her veins and sunshine in her heart. She and her family now reside near Denver, Colorado, soaking up the 300+ days of sunshine and breathtaking (literally, altitude) views.
Stay Lifting My Friends,
Bee Tee Dubs (BTW).
CROSSFIT, INC DOES NOT ENDORSE, SANCTION, APPROVE OF, OR SUPPORT THIS WORK OR ANY OPINION EXPRESSED HEREIN.