Why wear a knee sleeve during lifting? Why wear it during a workout? What does it actually do for you? Is it worth it to wear a knee sleeve for performance during workouts? We can answer these questions with a greater explanation of how the knee sleeve helps your body during a work out.
We first need to understand what can happen to a knee when it is placed under load or during a workout, this is when knee goes into a valgus moment or a dropping in towards the midline. During this valgus movement at the knee the medial or inside ligaments, like the MCL, begin to stretch and the lateral or outside meniscus starts to get compressed. When this is performed over and over again the shear force placed on the knee begins to wear down the cartilage and the ligaments begin to stretch beyond their physiological boundary and eventually can tear. The repetitive nature of these movements causes overuse syndromes and can lead to greater injury. Once this motion is reinforced with training the body will become used to this by shutting down through inhibition the glute medius and the quadratus femoris. These muscles hold the femur in place at the hip in order to prevent the knee valgus movement and support the pelvis to be able to support weight on the body. When this happens over and over again through training the labrum of the hip can become irritated and with enough time the hip labrum will tear. The knee valgus movement can be very detrimental to the pelvis, knee and even begin to tear down the ankle joints.
This is where knee sleeves can help by simply creating a stronger support system around the knee to help prevent the knee valgus movement. A recent study showed during a single leg jump test, the knee valgus movement was reduced almost 65% when using a knee sleeve. Participants in another study showed how the knee sleeve can help to also make the body more aware of the knee in space. This is called kinesthesia and it is important for your body to recruit the right muscle tissue when it is asked during lifting. Being simply more aware of the knee and its position will increase the ability of the knee to react and recruit muscle tissue. Another study showed the ability of the knee sleeve to create a warming effect by helping to increase some blood flow to the muscles that insert on the knee like the VMO and other quadriceps muscles. This quadriceps muscle has some of the highest content of GTO or golgi tendon organs. This small cells job is to tell the brain how hard to pull the muscle when the joint is being placed under a hard force. Perhaps this is why, when wearing a knee sleeve many athletes report a feeling of confidence to lift a heavy weight. The brain is receiving reports that the power should be greater and the blood flow is exponentially growing, therefore heavy lifting can be completed much more effectively. During workouts like CrossFit workouts it is important to maintain a efficiency during movement so that the first rep can look like the last rep. This will give you the power needed to excel in all workouts but more importantly maintain your form.
If your looking for a knee sleeve it is important for the knee sleeve to be greater then 3mm and the higher the width the more effective the power until you reach 7mm in which the knee sleeve starts to prevent motion which is counterproductive. I believe a 5mm knee sleeve is the best item that can help to prevent knee valgus movements, increase blood flow to the knee, and give the brain a greater awareness of the knees position in order for it to perform at its highest.
If you're in the hunt for a new or first pair of knee sleeves please take a look at what we have to offer. We promise you won't be disappointed in the performance and protection these sleeves give.
PRO II KNEE SLEEVE HERE---> http://box-stalker.com/collections/new-arrivals/products/coming-soon-box-stalker-pro-ii-knee-sleeve
Dr. Jered M. Hull DC, ATC
Dynamic Spine and Sports Therapy
Director of Sports Medicine
Doctor of Chiropractic
Certified Athletic Trainer
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