All About Knee Sleeves
By Megan Trombley
The coach is up at the screen talking about today’s strength and it happens to be squatting. All of a sudden you notice several folks run over to their bags or into the locker rooms and emerge with a variety of accessories. Shoes are flying off and knee sleeves are going on. You may be asking yourself, would my workout be better or could I get stronger if I were wearing knee sleeves? Let’s discuss if knee sleeves are right for you and how you may benefit from wearing them.
First, I must note that we never want to wear sleeves to cover up a pre-existing condition or movement pattern issue. If you are experiencing frequent knee pain or tendinitis then it is important to assess your mobility and/or movement with a coach prior to purchasing knee sleeves. We do not want to put a “band-aid” on the problem because it won’t get any better.
Once you have determined that knee sleeves could be an option for you, then it’s time to look at the material the sleeve is made out of. There are three different types of knee sleeves that could benefit you depending on what activity you’re doing. The following is a list to help you decide on the best fit for you:
- Cloth sleeves: provide a small amount of compression* and small amount of warmth
- Neoprene sleeves: provide a medium amount of compression*, a large amount of warmth and can help with injury prevention.
- Some athletes have even found that using these sleeves with activities such as hiking has helped with joint wear and tear.
- Knee wraps: provide an extreme amount of compression* – mostly used during competitions for max lift efforts
*quick note on compression: Compression increases blood flow to the knee and surrounding areas, which can help to reduce swelling/joint pain during and/or after a workout and also provide extra stability. (source: breakingmuscle.com)
The majority of our clients will find that the neoprene sleeves work best for how we train here at EverProven. There are several major brands that have purchase available online. I encourage you to research several options as they can be pricey (avg. $70-$90 for a pair), but they are worth the investment!
If you’ve determined your movement patterns are correct, decided on the material suitable for your needs and done your research for the right pair then now is the time to take a quick look on how to care for our knee sleeves once we have started wearing them!
Neoprene sleeves in particular can develop a VERY strong odor. This odor comes from a build up of bacteria and mildew. Proper care right from the start can keep this odor at bay or at least lessen it.
DO NOT throw your sweaty knee sleeves back into your gym back right after a workout!
You want your sleeves to dry out as quickly as possible and the best way to do that is to turn them inside out, outside of your bag.
If you start doing this method right after purchasing and you are wearing them frequently, you should be fine with putting them in a regular load of laundry then letting them air dry before putting them in your bag or wearing them again. Be sure that you are not using bleach in this load as bleach can weaken the fabric of the sleeve and compromise the strength of compression.
If you’ve been wearing your sleeves for months or years and have yet to wash them then take a look at the following two options:
-Boil the sleeves in a pot of boiling water for about 5 minutes
– Remove the pot from the heat
– Add a small amount of liquid dish soap to the pot and allow knee sleeves to cool in the pot
– Rinse the sleeves off and allow them to dry
Vinegar and Hot Water Soak
Soak knee sleeves in hot water and distilled vinegar prior to throwing in the laundry with clothing. This is a great method to use if you find that throwing it in with laundry is not enough to remove the odor.
Remember that happy knees will mean a happier you while squatting. Squatting shouldn’t be painful and knee sleeves may be just the thing you’re missing!
If you are still unsure if knee sleeves are the right choice for you, please don’t hesitate to discuss with any of our coaches or schedule a movement assessment!