As a competitive lifter, the right equipment is extremely important and can not only give you more enjoyment from your training sessions, but also a longer training life as an athlete. If you are a competitive weightlifter then I am sure you are well aware of the difference between an Eleiko bar and a 32mm powerlifting bar costing around £60. If you are like me then you would rather miss any technical work and just do pull and strength training based on how awful they feel.
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The equipment we train with is vital so that potential can be reached and not limited by poor bars and plates. Personal equipment is also very important. The first thing would be the weightlifting shoe and the many benefits it has to the lift. However, this post is not about shoes, but knee sleeves. I have worn knee sleeves for several years based on two qualities that they deliver –
- Additional warmth
The support is essential at higher loads and the right type of knee sleeve can provide the right combination between movement ability and support for loading. There has always been the problem of thin knee sleeves doing little for max loads and working loose. This is then met with the opposite of strongman knee wraps making you walk like a storm trooper and eventually causing your legs to drop off if not removed within 2-3 minutes. You can also barely move properly in them and so they are not too good for mobility work and impact full range. The research behind the benefit of knee sleeves tend to draw the comparison between them and a knee brace highlighting that while the brace is more for dealing with current injuries, the sleeve is aimed at minimising future injury for those engaged in training and sports that would place any combination of high load, force and volume through the joints that could lead to injury over time. They act as a less invasive and more mobile version of the brace allowing for a degree of compression and support while offering the benefit of movement through full range which is largely unimpeded. The compression factor can speed up recovery due to blood flow and using them during a warm up phase can also speed up the readiness of this area for light training. From a medical perspective they have also shown to have the added benefit of demonstrating an immediate impact on function for patients suffering from knee osteoarthritis. ACL reconstruction patients also show similar recovery when the brace and sleeve are compared. While the NSCA has shown that knee wraps can alter the mechanics of squatting action while increasing power there is no evidence to support the less intrusive knee sleeve of having any negative impacts on the kinematics of the squat and a general athlete consensus from users seconds this. Based on the various sports I coach and compete in I was very interested when Rehband contacted me with their new range of knee sleeves. They had both 5mm and 7mm models. 5mm would be your standard size as used by most lifters in competition. The 7mm intrigued me as I had a good idea that they could possibly be the link between sleeves that provide warmth and wraps that provide heavy support. I used the 7mm for a full power-based session and was quite critical on how they performed as the whole purpose of a review is to be objective and educate people to make an informed choice.
Firstly, they stay put. This is not really that important, but if you are a competitive lifter you may find yourself adjusting the knee sleeves after every set. A small gripe, but one that is removed with these sleeves. Secondly, you can operate at full range with no limit to movement that could appear from knee wraps that are either too loose, too tight, or fall off during your set as you missed the scout’s lesson on how to tie them properly. Thirdly, the difference between the 5mm standard sleeves and the 7mm is instantly noticeable. There is a huge degree of both warmth and comfort. Almost like a mini and low temperature heat pack. I do not have the worst knees in the world, but after nearly 30 years it is nice to have the knowledge that you have made some extra effort to look after yourself and that chasing the grandchildren is still an option when you realise many things are more important than how much you can lift.
Fourthly, the design means that they do not scrunch up at the rear of the knee, which usually causes them to adjust during training. Rehband have adapted the standard design prototype so that they garment is able to move with you and retain the place and position it starts from which is great if you are working volume or super setting. Fifthly, they are all-rounders and can be used from max strength sessions to a 10 minutes kettlebell set right through to a metabolic circuit based session while providing support and comfort. The main question people have regarding equipment is usually will it do the job and this is an absolute yes. I can see no problems at all and only positives from my training sessions long term so the advice is that if you are looking to invest in your long term health and performance with quality knee sleeves then you have just found them. The range is quite extensive and so I recommend seeing what else you may require based on the specific demands of your sport and what you feel may benefit from the extra support. Want to see the full range? Click the image below…