Squatting is a motion that involves maintaining a rigid back, flexing the knees, and sitting the gluteals down into a position that mimics sitting in a chair. The squat can be performed with weight or without. Olympic weight lifters and highly flexible individuals can often perform squats to the point of touching the gulteals to the ground. However, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends striving to get the hamstrings just close to parallel to the ground for a full repetition. The squat can place compressive forces on the knee, and a number of wraps and braces exist to support the joint during this exercise.
Bodybuilder.com recommends the use of wraps for protecting the knee while squatting. Wraps can stabilize the knee joint, and in some cases can produce up to 5 to 10 percent increases in weight lifted. Knowing that the knee is supported can increase confidence, Bodybuilder.com says. Wraps are a staple in the majority of competitive weight lifters' workout gear. However, Bodybuilder.com reports that there also may be a downside to using wraps. Some athletes feel that wraps can prevent normal overload to the knee, thus limiting the natural shock adaptation needed to achieve new gains.
According to FamilyDoctor.org, protective braces serve to provide support and stability for athletes and individuals performing high-impact squatting motions. Debate exists as to whether protective braces prevent injury or increase its likelihood due to a restriction in the normal motion of the knee. However, people who use protective braces report enhanced performance and reduced pain in the knee, FamilyDoctor.org says. Further research still needs to be conducted to determine the effectiveness of protective braces.
Functional braces are designed for people who have already incurred an injury and are attempting to resume physical activity. According to "American Family Physician," functional braces serve to mimic ligaments in the knee by limiting the range of motion in which the knee can oscillate. Functional braces are often prescribed by physical therapists and are effective for assisting people in rehabilitative therapy in performing progressive squatting exercises.