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Knee Braces for Squats

Squatting can be hard on the knees

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.

Wraps 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, says. Wraps are a staple in the majority of competitive weight lifters' workout gear. However, 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.

Protective Braces

According to, 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, says. Further research still needs to be conducted to determine the effectiveness of protective braces.

Functional 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.

1 comment

Apr 23, 2016
Erik Hanson

In regards to athletes utilizing wraps to reach a desired weight. In your opinion do you believe these should be used for “healthy” individuals only, or would you say an athlete returning from an orthopedic injury would benefit from such wraps?

Also, if wraps are “needed” to perform a certain lift (i.e. back squat), is it in an athlete’s best interest to perform that exercises, or to find a complimentary exercise focusing on similar muscle groups that does not cause pain or limitation?

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